Living history: how to restore and digitize your family photos | The Indian SCENE

Living history: how to restore and digitize your family photos

To preserve treasured memories, dig up your shoeboxes and dusty photo albums

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Have you started your spring cleaning yet? To help you clear space in your home while preserving your family’s treasured memories, we’ve put together a guide to restoring and digitizing family photos.


Collect & curate. This first step can admittedly be time-consuming  and difficult. But it can also be the most fun! Start by taking stock of the photos you have—dig the shoeboxes out of the attic, track down the dusty photo albums tucked away in cabinets, and reach out to family members to see if they’ve got anything they’d like to share. Once you’ve gathered up the photos, begin categorizing and organizing. Which are the ones you’d like to keep? Are there any duplicates? Are there any questions you have about them? A missing timestamp or a mystery subject? It helps to make this a team effort, something you can make a day of with family members.


Digitize & restore. There are few strategies you can take here. To save time, try services like DigMyPics or ScanCafe, which allow you to send photos in batches for professional scanning and retouching, and typically charge per image, with sliding fees depending on photo resolution. If you’re brave enough to try digitizing them yourself, though, there are a number of easy-to-use photo scanning apps, like Shoebox and Heirloom. A third, old-school option is to use a traditional flatbed scanner if you have one at home — just make sure your scanner is also equipped to scan negatives or more delicate prints. If you’re scanning your photos yourself, and want to deal with blemishes or faded color, use your favorite photo editing software (Google Photos will work just fine) to make necessary corrections.


Enjoy and share. The most exciting thing about digitizing your photos is that you can give them a life beyond the shoebox. Make sure to share what you’ve restored with interested friends and family members. Use an online photo gallery like Flickr or a shared photo album on iCloud to ensure that everyone in the family can enjoy the fruits of your work. If you’re still feeling crafty, you might consider using a service like Shutterstock or Cluster to create custom prints and bound books to give as gifts to relatives or to savor at home.

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