Old printed photos have significant sentimental value, which is why preserving and digitizing them has become a common practice. Digitizing photos allows us to safeguard our most precious memories, easily share them with loved ones, and even restore damaged images to some extent. However, converting your cherished photographs into digital format isn’t always a smooth process. Mistakes can be made that affect the quality and longevity of the digitized images, putting them at risk when your intention was the opposite. In this article, we’ll explore the top five mistakes that people make when digitizing photos so you can avoid them.
1. Not Choosing the Right Resolution
One of the most critical decisions when digitizing photos is choosing the right resolution, which determines the level of detail and clarity in your digitized images. It’s a common mistake to either choose a resolution that is too high or too low, and each has the potential to create problems.
Opting for an unnecessarily high resolution may seem like a good idea to ensure the best quality, however, this can significantly slow down the digitization process. High-resolution scans also occupy a large amount of storage space, which can be both inconvenient and expensive. Additionally, when you view your high-resolution digital images on a standard screen or share them online, you may not even notice a significant difference over a normal resolution. Consider your intended use for the digitized photos. High resolution digitizing is great for printing large posters or if you need extreme zooming, but for viewing on screens or standard-sized prints, a resolution of 300-600 dpi (dots per inch) is sufficient.
On the other end of the spectrum, opting for a resolution that is too low can result in grainy, pixelated images. Low-resolution scans won’t capture the finer details, and when you try to zoom in or print larger sizes, the image quality will suffer even more. Always consider the original photo’s quality. If it is small in size or low quality, choose a higher resolution to ensure the best possible outcome.
2. Not Storing Originals the Right Way
Preserving your original physical photographs is essential, as they hold sentimental and historical value. Many people make the mistake of not storing their originals properly following digitization. The choice between using albums or archival boxes can mean the difference between your originals withstanding the test of time, or degrading over time.
Albums are a common choice for organizing and displaying photographs. However, traditional adhesive-based photo albums can harm photos over time as the adhesive degrades, causing photos to become stuck to the pages. Also, exposure to light, heat, and humidity can deteriorate the quality of the photos within the album.
Consider archival-quality materials for storing your original photos. Archival boxes are designed to protect photographs from light, dust, and environmental factors. Acid-free and lignin-free photo storage materials are also crucial to prevent the degradation of your photos. If you prefer albums, opt for those with acid-free pages and photo corners to protect your images. Proper storage ensures they will remain in good condition for future generations.
3. Not Backing Up Your Digitals
Digitizing your photos is a great way to preserve them, but there’s always room for human and technical errors in the process. Digital files can be lost due to hardware failure, accidental deletion, or other unforeseen events. Many people make the mistake of not creating backups of their digitized photos, leaving their cherished memories vulnerable. Storing your digitized photos solely on your home computer is risky. If your computer experiences a hardware failure or is lost in a catastrophic event such as a fire or flood, you may lose all your digitized images.
An external hard drive is a popular choice for backup storage. They offer ample storage capacity and can be disconnected from your computer when not in use, reducing the risk of data loss in case of computer issues. However, remember that external hard drives can also fail over time, so it’s a good practice to have multiple backup copies on different drives. Cloud storage is becoming an increasingly secure and convenient option for backing up your digitized photos. Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud offer both free and paid storage options that are not susceptible to hardware failures or physical damage.
Consider a combination of these methods. Store a copy on your home computer, another on an external hard drive, and a third in a cloud-based storage service. This multi-tiered approach ensures that your photos are well-protected.
4. Not Scanning Photos in TIFF Format
When scanning photos, the file format you choose can significantly impact the quality and versatility of your digitized images. A common mistake is to save scanned photos in JPEG format which is convenient and widely supported, but can result in loss of image quality due to compression. To preserve the highest quality possible, save scanned photos in TIFF format which does not compress or degrade the image quality. This is particularly important if you plan to edit or restore the photos in the future, as it provides the most detailed and accurate representation of the original image. After scanning your photos in TIFF format, you can always convert them to other formats like JPEG for sharing or display, but it’s essential to have the high-quality TIFF versions in your archive.
5. Not Adding Metadata to Scanned Photos
Adding metadata to your scanned photos is often overlooked but is a critical step in ensuring that the images remain valuable and organized over time. Metadata is information about the photo, such as the date it was taken, location, names of people in the image, and any other relevant details. The mistake of not adding metadata can lead to future frustration when trying to identify photos. As time goes on, memories can fade, and the context of a particular image may become unknown. To add metadata, you can use photo management software or editing tools. Be sure to include details for future generations who may inherit your collection. Additionally, well-organized metadata makes it easier to search and retrieve specific photos.
Digitizing photos is a great way to preserve memories and share them with others, but it’s important that it’s done right to ensure quality and use. Avoiding common mistakes, such as choosing the right resolution, storing originals properly, backing up digitals, saving scanned photos in TIFF format, and adding metadata, will help you create a digitized photo collection that withstands the test of time and preserves your cherished memories for generations to come.
For guaranteed assurance that your cherished photos are digitized the right way, seek the services of a professional company like iMemories, which specializes in converting analog memories into high quality digital format. With iMemories, you can digitize far more than just photo prints, with their expert team also digitizing film reels, VHS, negatives, slides and more.