Fee or Free Photo Scanning
If you’re like me, you have piles of old, printed photos begging to be digitized. I even took mine out of old albums & scrapbooks and threw the albums away (I don’t recommend this). But before you take on the enormous task of digitizing your photos, make sure you have the right tools. It makes no sense to hand scan small photos, one by one, on a flatbed scanner or with a phone app. There’s a better tool available that is a huge time-saver–E-Z Photo Scan.
E-Z Photo Scan sells & rents multiple scanners but my favorite by far has been the model that allows you to stack 30-60 smaller photos in a pile and it auto feeds them into the scanner, names the file (according to your instructions), and can output in multiple file formats. It will run a stack of photos through in minutes. It can take a scan of both sides of your photo as it runs it through. (There are other options for larger photos and photos/scrapbooks that can’t be bent in any way-I’m not addressing those in this blog.)
Below is a video I took at RootsTech of a patron using the E-Z Photo Scanner to scan a few photos. This doesn’t do the scanner justice because she’s just dropping photos in one-by-one with what she has on hand.
This is the vision: you will have a nicely organized box with stacks of photos and you will put a stack of photos on the scanner and let it feed them through while you sit back and watch digital versions appear on the computer, with files named so you will be able to locate and identify them in the future.
Personally, I wouldn’t attack the scanning job without this tool. If you don’t have access to this type of scanning equipment or a similar time-saving tool, prepare your printed photos now, for a time in the future when you will have access to this type of equipment. Prepping the project will take far more time than the actual digitizing. (Or work on renaming and organizing your most recent digital photo files and master the art of file naming with current photos before you attack old photos.)
E-Z Photo Scan just advertised a Monday webinar (that’s today, Monday, May 15th) at 1 pm EDT and is inviting people to pre-register. The webinar will address file naming techniques, “tools, strategies, and ways needed to turn naming file names into high-performance search bots.” I wish I’d taken a class on file naming before I scanned my photos. I should have spent time organizing the photos into the batches I wanted to scan together, labeling the piles with how I wanted the system to automatically name them, etc. I was just so excited by the time-saving technology I jumped in without much planning. (Again, I don’t recommend this.)
E-Z Photo Scan
E-Z Photo Scan sells this equipment or will rent the equipment in the United States and Canada and they offer financing for purchases. This is a display from RootsTech 2017 showing how the rental process works and what is delivered when you order.
If you choose to rent you will definitely want to do all the organizing and prep work before the machine delivery date. And by organizing and prep, I mean gather every possible photo you can digitize, put it in the stack you want it digitized with, have it in the exact order you want the files to appear in, and pre-label each stack with the file naming format you intend to use (ideas from the webinar or any other file naming source you trust). This is a massive project and most of the work will be preparation. You might want to ask family or neighbors if they’d be interested in sharing the rental fee and allowing them time with the equipment. I’ve heard of groups sharing the costs and taking turns using the equipment that was set up in one person’s garage. I also have a girlfriend who purchased one of these for her family (she’s a diehard librarian/archivist). So even though the rental or purchase price seems like a high start-up cost, people do it and love it.
Epson, Canon, Wolverine, etc
Epson, Canon, Wolverine are just a few companies offering similar products in my area. Search online for other digital, auto-feed, photo scanners available in your area. Some computer and office stores in my area sell this equipment but options will vary based on your location.
LDS Family History Centers
Many LDS Family History Centers located throughout the world have this equipment available for free. You’ll need to contact your local family history center and ask what digitizing equipment they have and how to reserve a time to use it. You’ll want to plan on at least 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the system, even if a volunteer is there to assist you. (I’ve heard a few people say they’re afraid to use these facilities because they don’t want to be proselytized and in my experience, this is not the purpose of the LDS Family History Centers and religion has never been discussed when I was working, but if religion did come up, a respectful “I don’t like to discuss religion” would end it.)
Libraries and Archives
Libraries and Archives worldwide have digitizing equipment and some make it available to patrons and offer use of the equipment free-of-charge. Others may charge a fee. I used this or similar equipment at a local college (free of charge) and actually reserved two machines for 2 hours each, and had my sons feeding photos through one machine and batch naming them while I fed photos through the other. (We brought USB cards with inadequate storage space and an external hard drive with 1TB of space that was more than adequate.)
Genealogical and Historical Societies
Genealogical and Historical Societies would also be a great place to check. I suspect if they offered use of the equipment for free, that would for members only, and they would charge a fee to other patrons.