How to Digitize Family Photos


Article by Kate Baxendale

Photography by Stock Images + Provided

Chances are you have shoeboxes full of printed photographs from life events that took place before the digital age. You certainly don't want to throw them out, but they're just there taking up space and collecting dust. Digitizing your old photos is a great way to both preserve these memories and enjoy them. You probably haven't looked at them in years! Here's how you can digitize your print photos.

Organize the Photos

It can be tempting to jump right in with the first box of photos, but the process will go much more smoothly if you organize the photos first. Group the photos by events—birthdays, Christmas, vacations, weddings—then group them by people if the photos aren't associated with specific events. Separate the duplicates so you don't scan the same photos twice. Then, organize the photos by year. If the date isn't printed on the photo, make your best guess. Choose which photos you want to digitize and place a small sticky note on the back of these.

Choose the Digitizing Equipment

Auto feed scanner – If you have lots of photos to scan, an auto feed scanner is a fast and efficient way to get this done. The Epson FastFoto FF-640 is a great option.

Flatbed scanner – Your home printer is likely equipped with a flatbed scanner, but it may be limited in size and software features. The Epson Perfection V39 produces high-quality scans, includes Easy Photo Scan software and can accommodate larger images.

Smartphone or tablet – This can be an effective method if you're scanning only a small number of photos and high quality isn't required. Try a photo scanning app that has useful features like photo cropping and automatic edge detection.

Decide on Storage

Choose where you will store your digital photos. Your computer, the cloud or an external hard drive are all great options. A thumb drive works for smaller volumes of photos. Back up your photos to one or two storage devices to ensure they are saved.


Scan the photos pile by pile. Create a folder for each pile, adding metadata (additional information) in the fields provided, like the date and the event name. This will make it easier to locate photos once they're all digitized.

Now you can easily access decades of your family's memories and share them!

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