I don’t know about you, but the worst part about watching coverage of any hurricane or wildfire, is the look on people’s faces as they pick through the rubble of their homes, trying to find the things they love.
Even one photo of their wedding or of their children, can mean the difference between being with or without their cherished memories.
And with the way the world has been the last few years — from hurricanes to wildfires, tornadoes and oh yeah, COVID — it’s definitely time to make everything we love safe and sound.
Here are our top tips, tools & high tech toys that will get all your favorite photos scanned, stored and accessible quickly and easily.
Have you been through your family photo album lately?
How are your pictures doing?
Are they bright and colorful or faded and lifeless?
Have you taken the time to scan them or is the print you’re holding, the only one of its kind?
The one thing that makes photos harder to archive than other keepsakes, is that we’re so used to seeing them hanging around the house, that we forget to take them off the wall and scan them for safekeeping.
Before we get to saving you current pictures, how would you like to make sure all of your future photos are safe and protected before they even leave your camera?
Simple! The next time you buy a camera, make sure it’s Wi-Fi enabled, like one of my personal favorites, the Sony HX400V Compact Digital Camera. Every picture you snap goes right to your computer or to the Cloud automagically without you having to remember to do it manually. And it has a spectacular Optical Zoom to boot! And if you’re not in the market for a new camera, get a Wi-Fi memory card like the ez Share WiFi SD Card that turns most regular digital cameras into Wi-Fi.
Backing Up Your Photos
The good news is, there are so many different printers and scanners and flash drives and hard drives, you can see your favorite family photos any time and anywhere you want.
In this section, we’ll be dealing with prints – basically anything that is a physical photo, whether it’s in a frame, in an album or lurking in the back of a kitchen or desk drawer — and get them into a digital format.
If you have a lot of photos around the house, you’ll probably need some help dealing with all of your pictures. Why not declare one day “scanning day”. Invite a bunch of good friends over to help, and if you have as much fun as we think you will, next time have them bring over their own photos to scan. Don’t forget to recruit your kids. They’ll have a great time helping.
1. Oh Photos? Where Are You?
First, locate and gather all of your physical photos.
Don’t forget to look for all your albums, photos in drawers or files, framed and hanging on the walls or sitting on your bookshelf.
2. Quick Start
Although all of your pictures are important, some mean more to you than others.
Before you start sorting all your pictures, find the ten or twelve pictures you love the most and back them up first, using the “How To Scan Your Photos” directions below.
Not only will your favorite shots be safe and sound, but you’ll already know what you’re doing when you tackle the rest of them!
3. Sorting All Your Photos
Separate your photos into two different piles.
In Pile 1, place photos that you want to copy and save in a digital format, for safekeeping.
In Pile 2, place photos that you:
Already have in digital format and could easily recopy if the one you’re holding was harmed or destroyed.
Have numerous copies of in other locations. Check to make sure that this is actually true, before you decide not to scan them.
Simply don’t care enough about to keep it disaster safe.
The next time you have a second, put the photos in the second pile back where you found them.
4. Scan Away!
Using our scanning tips below, scan all of the photos in Pile 1 and save them to your computer.
If you already have digital photos on your computer, save the new scans to a new folder within your photos folder.
For example, ScannedPrintPhotos, so you’ll know at a glance that these are copies of your old print photos.
5. Make Sure You Back Up ALL Your Photos To At Least 3 Locations
Once you’ve finished scanning, copy the folder on your computer that contains all of your photos — the digital ones and print ones you just scanned — and save it with a different name, like Photo Archive Backup, with today’s date.
Place the copy of your backup folder in at least three different locations. Here are a few suggestions of safe places to store them:
On a flash drive or portable hard drive, and take them with you during evacuation on a key ring or in your plastic evacuation bin.
On a flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box or water/fireproof safe in your own city.
On a flash drive or portable hard drive, in a safe deposit box, water/fireproof safe, or with relatives in the city where you would evacuate to in an emergency.
In a password-protected online file repository like OneDrive, iCloud or Dropbox, or on the file directory of your personal web site. This way, you can retrieve them from any web enabled computer.
You can also save a copy of your photos on a web-based service like Amazon Photos. But this shouldn’t be your only solution, since you have no control over the site & could lose your photos without any warning.
How To Scan Your Photos
There are several great ways to scan and preserve your photos.
And the nice thing about it, is that once it’s scanned, you can share it with family and friends or correct faded color, repair damage or otherwise restore old photographs.
You can scan your photos with your all-in-one printer, a regular scanner (all it does is scan), a portable wand scanner that you swipe over your photos one or several at a time, or a photo scanner, with a built-in feeder that protects and guides photos or slides through the scanner, for an extra layer of protection.
Here are some of our favorites.
Most printers available now are all-in-one printers, that scan as well as print. This one is especially easy to use as a regular or photo printer and is compact enough to put on your desk. Not only can you scan and print high resolution photos directly on to acid free photo paper, but it’s also a wireless printer with HP ePrint, which means that you can send photos directly to your printer from your smartphone or tablet.
Portable Wand Scanners
Portable wand scanners, like the VuPoint Magic Wand Scanner, have come a long way. They run on batteries or are rechargeable and save anything you scan onto an SD card. From there, you can download the scans/photos directly to your computer via a USB cord, or you can pop the SD card out of the scanner and pop it into your computer to archive your scans.
The best part about having a portable wand scanner is that you can scan photos, documents, and even things like marriage certificates or historical documents by swiping the scanner over it, instead of having to feed them through your scanner one at a time.
It’s especially good, for scanning photos at relative’s homes. If Aunt Sadie doesn’t want her favorite photos the leaving her house, just take the scanner over and scan the ones you want. If you’re dealing with a fragile photo, you can even scan it right in the frame.
Or if you have delicate photos in a photo album – have you ever tried to peel photos out of an album without damaging them – you can simply open the book and sweep the scanner over the page.
From there, all you have to do is open the scanned page and crop the photos apart, saving each one as a separate photo. Photos archived, originals safeguarded!
This portable scanner not only expertly scans photos, but it has a special attachment that scans slides and negatives, turning them into full size, high-quality photos.
We found some slides that someone had given us, and since we never used slides ourselves, we didn’t have the equipment to look at them.
With the Kodak Scanner, all we did was feed the slide into the scanner and suddenly we had full color, beautiful photos that looked like they were processed last week. Absolutely amazing!
If you don’t have access to a scanner, then have a relative or friend scan them for you, or go to a copy shop like Fed Ex-Kinko’s to have them scanned. While you’re there, print color copies of your favorite photos on non-acid paper. This will ensure that they will last longer and will fade less as they age.
Now that you know what you’re doing, scan all the loose prints that you want to preserve, then save the scans to your computer to back them up.
Once you have all of your photos or documents scanned and saved, look through and find any that are damaged, faded or yellowed.
There are so many great photo software programs out there, like Adobe Photoshop Elements. But one scanner stands out among all the others in the marketplace, for color correction, right in the scanner.
It’s the Epson Perfection line of scanners, with Epson’s Easy Photo Fix software. Do you have any of those photos from the seventies and eighties that ended up a muddled brown-orange mess? This is the only easy solution we have found to restoring then back to their natural color. All you have to do is use the Auto Fix setting on the scanner and then scan your seventies photos. The scanner corrects the color while it scans.
Even if you have to touch them up a bit with Photoshop Elements afterwards, using the Epson scanner will save you hours if not days of manual color correction, that probably wouldn’t come out have as great as they do on the scanner.
High Tech Toys
Here are some of our favorite high-tech tools and toys to help you get all of your favorite photos, music, home videos, movies – and anything else that can be stored digitally – backed up, stored and accessible. Wherever you are. Whatever is going on around you. 24/7.
The COVID pandemic has created a new list of toys that people can’t do without — including some very cool high-tech solutions to unexpected challenges. Like staying healthy and working from home! Here are some of our favorites.
For a book’s worth of tips and tools on getting your stuff backed up and together, pick up a copy of our book “Back It Up” in paperback or via instant download.
Have Fun Getting Your Stuff Together!
Back It Up
I don’t know about you, but the most important keepsakes in our house are our old family photos, followed closely by our home movies and music. But grabbing piles of photo albums and all your picture frames off the walls is pretty hard to do when you’re running out the door! With Back It Up, you’ll learn quick, easy steps to back up your print/digital photos, home movies, music (including vinyl & cassettes) and save them in multiple, disaster proof locations. Paperback Or Instant Download
Keep Everything You Love Safe | The Book Inspired By The Blog
Keep Everything You Love Safe, is filled with quick, easy, 5 minute steps you can take right now, to get everything that’s important to you organized, safe, sound and accessible. Each section covers a different area, from backing up and fixing family photos, home movies and music, to vital documents, medical and financial information and even getting your digital life in order. Paperback Or Instant Download
Keep The Stuff You Love Safe