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5 Reasons Why You Should Consider Scanning Your Old Film Photos

Earlier in the week we talked about organizing all of those old print photos from before the digital era.  Now that they are organized, I’m going to tell you 5 reasons why you should consider scanning your old film photos.

Windsor Castle, Spring 1983

Windsor Castle, Spring 1983

What do I mean by scanning your old photos? You might be surprised to know I mean literally putting your prints in a scanner and scanning them into a digital file. Here’s why I think you should consider it  – and why it’s been on my personal photo organization project wish list for a long time:

Reason #1: Negatives are useless

Remember how earlier in this series we talked about organizing negatives? The reality is that negatives are obsolete. It is nearly impossible these days to find a photo place that will make reprints from negatives. Unless you are lucky enough to have one of the rare photos lab nearby that will print from them, they are mostly useless.

So why keep them at all? I keep my negatives in the hope that technology, via scanning and other means, will make them really useful again at a future point. They are also a backstop against losing my last copy of a precious photo. It would be some work, but I could get a print if it was really important. But for everyday usage of photos for things like scrapbooking or family history, negatives are really no longer useful.

Reason #2: To Print Copies

Given the first point (that negatives are virtually impossible to print these days) it naturally follows that scanning photos to digital files makes it much easier to print copies of your favorite old pictures. Whether it’s sharing with your family, or for decorating your home…once that photo is available to you in digital form, you can print as many as you would like very easily.

Reason #3: Sharing in a digital age

Most of use love to share memories of our lives with our friends on places like Facebook and Instagram. Anniversaries mean old dating and wedding pictures. Our kids having events like graduations and weddings gives us the urge to show the world that to us it was just yesterday they were an adorable baby. And many of us have lost loved ones we want to share memories of as well. All of this is much easier to do when your photo archive is available in digital form. 

Reason #4: To enhance them

Those decades-old prints from your childhood or your kids’ childhoods? You probably won’t have to look too hard to see that they are showing their age. Color shift and fading especially are big symptoms of deterioration in old photos.

Scanning old photos means that you can create a copy of the photo that will no longer deteriorate. It also means that you can use software (like the Adobe Lightroom that I talked about in my previous article) to enhance and restore the image back to its original look.

Windsor Castle, Spring 1983

Windsor Castle, Spring 1983

Reason #5: Disaster protection

One of the big benefits of digital photography is that it allows you to back up your photos in multiple locations. I have my photos on my computer as well as backed up to a cloud back-up service called Backblaze that backs up everything on my computer. (To be really safe, I should also have a third local back-up.) If something happens to my home, my digital photos wouldn’t be lost, because they would still be safe in Backblaze in a server farm somewhere.

But paper photos are another story. Except for the rare photos that someone else might have a copy of, all our photos are in one place. If my home was destroyed by fire or another disaster, all of my photo prints – and their negatives – would be gone. There’s no back-up for that.

But if the photo prints are scanned, then I can store those digital files with a back-up in the cloud just like all my digital photos. And they will be much safer from becoming a devastating loss to my family.

(If you click here to subscribe to Backblaze, we both get a month of service free!)

If all of the above has you thinking that maybe you would like to scan your photos, but you have no idea how….stay tuned for my next article!

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