Scan those old photos

Each year January rolls around and all of a sudden I feel pressure to get organized. Time for a fresh attitude. Time to clean out closets, file papers and yes, tackle the “miscellaneous” box that keeps getting filled with items transferred from my “miscellaneous” drawer.

This year, I am determined to find a fun way to tackle these projects. Project #1: free my shoe box full of old (pre-digital) photos. The first set of pictures I recently found was from a trip my mom and I took to Italy back in 2000.

Then it hit me – I can scan these and make a photo book for my mom for Mother’s Day. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone. Organized AND forward thinking? I like the sound of that.

Although the thought of a scanning project can be overwhelming, you can actually do it yourself in just five easy steps. I am lucky enough to have access to a scanner at work, but most “all in one” printers have scanners now and they have nice resolution. Alternatively, you can use a scanning service like ScanCafe.

How to use a scanner:

  1. Clean the scanner. You can use a dry cloth or an electronic/lens wipe. Don’t forget to wipe the lid too. Any dust will distort your image.
  2. Lay the photo or items (I scanned maps and paper tickets too!) face down and make sure the edges of the photos are flush with the edge of the scanner. Just like you would for a photo copier.
  3. I use my scanner’s “auto mode” but you make sure to check the settings are set for at least 300 DPI, so you can print and enlarge scanned image.
  4. After you hit “scan”, you will get a preview of the image. If you don’t automatically see a preview, check your “my pictures” folder on your desk top.
  5. Upload your images to Shutterfly and you can edit red eye, crop and add effects.

I scanned 65 images in about 30 minutes, but time can vary depending on your scanner speed. I then used Shutterfly’s storyboard feature to put together the photo book. Voila, organized and ready for Mother’s Day in under an hour – 2010 is off to a great start!


  1. says

    Yes…-great way to kick off 2010. I have a big box or two of photos of my childhood and my father in WII. I really need to get to scanning. In addition, there is a chunk of my first daughter’s life (born 2000) that is pre digital too. I just do not know which project to start first.
    Also I love the tip about really dusting off the

  2. Joey says

    Great article and this is a great way to kick off 2010. ORGANIZED!! I need to do this as I’d like to get a book done for my Uncle – a Tribute book of his life. I have a bunch of photos I need to scan and I put them away before Christmas just to give me more room. I need to pull them out of my dresser and start the job! I’m waiting for a couple photos; which I may never get. It would be nice to have this done before the one year anniversary of his passing in March.
    Gotta get going. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Jane says

    Thanks for the reminder and tips. I have so much to scan it seems overwhelming, but it needs to be done. The thought of doing just one project/book at a time makes it seem less daunting.

  4. Tiffany M says

    Excellent… and I need to follow your lead! Post that Mother’s day book! Oy… mother’s day? already… but great idea!

  5. shannonr says

    Nice article and pretty much explains my going ons right now. We recently redecorated our downstairs and hidden in a few boxes are older photos. I had to chuckle at a few of them and swear i wasn’t showing anyone some of those pictures of me! However, I convinced myself to make it my project this year to scan all these photos in and eventually make them into different photobooks. My father used to have a racing career and all his materials are stuffed into old fashion scarpbooks, I would love for christmas to scan in all the articles and take pictures of some of his older trophies and make a book for him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *