How Do You Digitize Your Slides and Photos?

July 23, 2021

While it’s easy to lament how much things have changed over time, it’s definitely much simpler to share photos and videos with smartphones and digital cameras. Snap a photo of a great meal with friends, your adorable grandkids, or your vacation adventures. Then post it to your social media or send it via text or email, all in seconds. However, most of us lived for many years without these wonder devices. We have albums of photos, carousels full of slides, and envelopes with film. You may even have unprocessed film. What’s the best way to digitize it all, so it’s easy to share our earlier life phases, too? 

The DIY Route to Digitize Your Slides and Photos

There are two different approaches you can take to digitize your slides and photos. Either do it yourself (or with help from friends and family) or find a company to do it for you. The DIY route is usually less expensive, although that will depend on how much equipment you have already have. For photos, the simplest thing to do is to scan them. This will allow you to touch them up using photo editing software. Simple programs are included with most computers. 

Slides and film are more complicated. If you still have a working slide projector, you can project your slides onto a blank wall or screen and take digital photos of them. The quality may not be great, but you can touch them up as you would scanned photos. For better quality slides and film, you can purchase a special scanner designed for slides and film. An inexpensive one will cost around $150. At this level, you’ll get decent quality images that can be touched up with a computer. Higher quality devices can run several hundred dollars all the way to $1,000. 

A major downside with digitizing photos and slides yourself is that it will take quite a bit of time. If you aren’t comfortable using technology, there will also be a steep learning curve. A tech-savvy friend or grandkid could help you. They may be able to research equipment and software to make the job easier. And then don’t forget to store the photos in the cloud. 

Companies Can Digitize Your Images Quickly and Easily

The other route is to find a company that specializes in digitizing old photos and slides. The cost and service provided will vary quite a bit. You should definitely look into several options before choosing one. The way these services typically work is that you pack up your slides, photos, and film and send it off to them to be digitized. Once the job is done, they will send you back your materials, along with a DVD, CD, or flash drive with your images. 

What should you look for in a company? They should definitely send you crush-proof packaging for your photos, rather than having you pack it with whatever supplies you have on hand. You should also look for a company that has been around for a while and that has good reviews. Some will store your images in the cloud for a period of time, which allows you to share them with friends and relatives. They can download the images they want to keep. It can be handy to have your images annotated, to help you organize them. This service tends to cost more but will also make telling your life story and family history much easier. Old family movies are another treasure trove of memories and history. If you have a lot, you can look for companies that work with several different formats. 

Sending all your old photos and slides through the mail may feel a bit too scary. That’s okay. There are brick and mortar photo shops that offer digitizing services. Do an internet search or ask for recommendations to find a shop with good reviews if you’d rather go that route. 

Look at some of our previous articles to find more ideas about how to tell your life story and share your history with the rest of your family and friends. As always, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter if you found this on social media and get back to living your best life!

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