My father, a photographer, put a camera in my hands at a very early age. I have taken hundreds, often thousands, of pictures a year for most of my life. And, as a result, I have boxes and boxes of print photographs taking up space in my closet.
One of my goals for 2009 is to have all of my old photographs scanned so that I can have digital copies of these pictures. We’ve talked previously about services that will scan your photographs (in addition to ScanMyPhotos, commenters also recommend ScanCafe and LifePreserver), and having my photos scanned is the first item on my to-do list for this project.
While I’m trying to decide which scanning service to use, I’m also deciding what to do with the photographs once they’re scanned. First up, I’ll be sure to backup the images; I’ll put copies of the digital image DVDs in my safety deposit box at the bank and I’ll upload the image files to my online storage system. I value these images enough to pay to have them scanned, so I should also pay to have them protected from fire and natural disaster.
I will want to organize the digital image files on my computer, but I haven’t yet decided which program to use. I currently use iPhoto, but with a hundred thousand more photographs, it will be overloaded. With the new version coming out in a couple weeks, I’m going to wait to see if it’s more capable and robust. If it won’t meet my needs, I’m considering the iPhoto Library Manager by Fat Cat Software for $20 as one option for improving my current system’s functionality. But, I expect I’m going to spend the $200 to buy Aperture 2 and revel in its powerful system. (If you’re on a PC, I hear that Google’s Picasa continues to be the most convenient photo manager.)
Finally, I plan to use Blurb to create a handful of albums that I want to store on the bookshelf for guests to peruse. I used Blurb in December to create four photo albums and was very impressed with their service. I’ve used the Apple system in the past, but the quality of the Blurb book is leaps and bounds ahead of Apple’s product.
The books I ordered from Blurb were hardcovers with glossy jackets, full color interior, and 100-pound silk-finish paper. With shipping, I paid less than $150 total for the four albums. It may sound like a lot, but their quality appropriately matches the price. Alternatively, if you decided to go with a paperback cover, no book jacket, and non-premium paper would significantly reduce the price per album.
(Off-topic tip: I’ve often thought that digital photo albums would be great for sentimental clutter photographs. Take images of sentimental items, ditch the actual item, and then create a photo album of all your sentimental things. Instead of a basement full of clutter, you can have a single book on your bookshelf taking up just inches of space.)
I will add that I do have one complaint about Blurb and that is if you use their templates you can’t move any elements around on the page or resize any objects. This isn’t an issue just with Blurb, though, a handful of other album printing companies have the same restrictions. You can import full pages from programs like InDesign (Mac and PC), but then you’re not able to use the templates. Inside sources have told me that there are some improvements coming down the pipeline, and I hope altering templates is one of them.
For those of you who have already gone through the process of scanning all of your old photographs, what have you done to manage the files? Please let us know your plan of action in the comments.