Fee or Free Photo Scanning

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017


Fee or Free Photo Scanning

If you’re like me, you have piles of old, printed photos begging to be digitized. I even took mine out of old albums & scrapbooks and threw the albums away (I don’t recommend this). But before you take on the enormous task of digitizing your photos, make sure you have the right tools. It makes no sense to hand scan small photos, one by one, on a flatbed scanner or with a phone app. There’s a better tool available that is a huge time-saver–E-Z Photo Scan.

E-Z Photo Scan sells & rents multiple scanners but my favorite by far has been the model that allows you to stack 30-60 smaller photos in a pile and it auto feeds them into the scanner, names the file (according to your instructions), and can output in multiple file formats. It will run a stack of photos through in minutes. It can take a scan of both sides of your photo as it runs it through. (There are other options for larger photos and photos/scrapbooks that can’t be bent in any way-I’m not addressing those in this blog.)

Below is a video I took at RootsTech of a patron using the E-Z Photo Scanner to scan a few photos. This doesn’t do the scanner justice because she’s just dropping photos in one-by-one with what she has on hand.

This is the vision: you will have a nicely organized box with stacks of photos and you will put a stack of photos on the scanner and let it feed them through while you sit back and watch digital versions appear on the computer, with files named so you will be able to locate and identify them in the future.

Personally, I wouldn’t attack the scanning job without this tool. If you don’t have access to this type of scanning equipment or a similar time-saving tool, prepare your printed photos now, for a time in the future when you will have access to this type of equipment. Prepping the project will take far more time than the actual digitizing. (Or work on renaming and organizing your most recent digital photo files and master the art of file naming with current photos before you attack old photos.)

E-Z Photo Scan just advertised a Monday webinar (that’s today, Monday, May 15th) at 1 pm EDT and is inviting people to pre-register. The webinar will address file naming techniques, “tools, strategies, and ways needed to turn naming file names into high-performance search bots.” I wish I’d taken a class on file naming before I scanned my photos. I should have spent time organizing the photos into the batches I wanted to scan together, labeling the piles with how I wanted the system to automatically name them, etc. I was just so excited by the time-saving technology I jumped in without much planning. (Again, I don’t recommend this.)


E-Z Photo Scan

E-Z Photo Scan sells this equipment or will rent the equipment in the United States and Canada and they offer financing for purchases. This is a display from RootsTech 2017 showing how the rental process works and what is delivered when you order.

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017

E-Z-Photo Scan at RootsTech 2017

If you choose to rent you will definitely want to do all the organizing and prep work before the machine delivery date. And by organizing and prep, I mean gather every possible photo you can digitize, put it in the stack you want it digitized with, have it in the exact order you want the files to appear in, and pre-label each stack with the file naming format you intend to use (ideas from the webinar or any other file naming source you trust). This is a massive project and most of the work will be preparation. You might want to ask family or neighbors if they’d be interested in sharing the rental fee and allowing them time with the equipment. I’ve heard of groups sharing the costs and taking turns using the equipment that was set up in one person’s garage. I also have a girlfriend who purchased one of these for her family (she’s a diehard librarian/archivist). So even though the rental or purchase price seems like a high start-up cost, people do it and love it.

Epson, Canon, Wolverine, etc

Epson, Canon, Wolverine are just a few companies offering similar products in my area. Search online for other digital, auto-feed, photo scanners available in your area. Some computer and office stores in my area sell this equipment but options will vary based on your location.


LDS Family History Centers

Many LDS Family History Centers located throughout the world have this equipment available for free. You’ll need to contact your local family history center and ask what digitizing equipment they have and how to reserve a time to use it. You’ll want to plan on at least 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the system, even if a volunteer is there to assist you. (I’ve heard a few people say they’re afraid to use these facilities because they don’t want to be proselytized and in my experience, this is not the purpose of the LDS Family History Centers and religion has never been discussed when I was working, but if religion did come up, a respectful “I don’t like to discuss religion” would end it.)


Libraries and Archives

Libraries and Archives worldwide have digitizing equipment and some make it available to patrons and offer use of the equipment free-of-charge. Others may charge a fee. I used this or similar equipment at a local college (free of charge) and actually reserved two machines for 2 hours each, and had my sons feeding photos through one machine and batch naming them while I fed photos through the other. (We brought USB cards with inadequate storage space and an external hard drive with 1TB of space that was more than adequate.)


Genealogical and Historical Societies

Genealogical and Historical Societies would also be a great place to check. I suspect if they offered use of the equipment for free, that would for members only, and they would charge a fee to other patrons.


It’s been four years since we scanned our photos and I recently saw new equipment for digitizing scrapbooks that allowed the patron to flip through page after page as it digitized. The equipment took a photo, a digital version appeared on the computer, then the patron flipped to the next page, etc. No need to take apart scrapbooks and albums. Anyway, that’s another blog for another day, but the point is, don’t start a project until you’ve researched the latest and greatest tools. Nothing is more frustrating than learning you were inefficient with your time because you chose the wrong tool for the project. E-Z Photo Scan is aptly named, it’s easy to use and is the right tool for the job.

Best in your digitizing whether it’s fee or free.

May 14, 2017 |

International Save Your Photos Month!


Family History photos

The idea behind Family History in 15 minutes a day is we need to be consistently keeping our family history organized and this can be done in short, daily sessions. And what better time to organize the photos than International Save Your Photos month!

The reason a house stays clean is because someone intentionally washes dishes, runs laundry, vacuums, etc. We don’t just do it one time and *poof* it magically stays beautiful. Ditto our family history and genealogy. We’re adding to our family history each day we wake up and start afresh: we take pictures, we talk to people, we journal (okay, you journal). Genealogy stops being “fun” when we’re disorganized and repeat the same searches, reshuffle the same papers, look for the same photos, etc. Managing our “system” clears out time and space for useful research.

Here are a few “Family History in 15 minutes a day” ideas in honor of International Save Your Photos month:

  • Take 15 minutes a day and sit in front of your computer deleting photos you don’t want/need

I’m not talking about rash decisions to cull family photos, just delete the obvious junk. I take photos at stores to comparison shop or remember when a sale ends, photos to text friends and ask if we need it for a project. I’ve got photos of things I sold in online classifieds. I use my phone camera every day, multiple times a day. It’s easier than taking notes. Just snap a pic of something you need to remember and voila!, it’s yours forever. Except you don’t need it forever so take 15 minutes to get rid of the clutter that distracts from the images that still matter.

That said, I had 29,000 photos on my computer and after deleting the junk I still have 27,000 photos that I actually want to keep. Now, on to organization.

While you’re at it, follow @CarolineGuntur, i.e. the Swedish Organizer, on Twitter. Her organization tips are very helpful, she’s extremely good at what she does, and who doesn’t need a little coaching and encouragement now and then. Even if you’re not ready to tackle your photos, she’ll give you the boost you need to tackle something. 

  • Delete photos from your phone after you’ve downloaded them to your computer. This is an easy “downtime” activity (waiting in a doctor’s office, kids’ lessons, etc.)
  • Visit and in honor of September being “International Save Your Photos Month,” sign the pledge and learn what you can do to save your photos.

A few ideas from their site: 

  • create a digital folder for each of your children with their photos
  • scan photos for digital preservation (not a 15 minute activity unless you’re just scanning a few select photos)
  • call a family member for the story behind a photo
  • record an older family member’s stories as you flip through an album with them
  • When your child brings artwork home from school, quickly snap a picture of them holding the artwork. Then feel guilt-free when you secretly toss it.
    Elementary School Art photos

    Elementary School Art photos

That beauty no longer resides in our home (the artwork) and my son is none the wiser. I used to take shots of the art alone, but frankly, what gives meaning to the art is the child behind the creation. 

I’m specifically ignoring the large, devoted projects like pulling out the boxes of old photos, scrapbooks, etc., and organizing and digitizing them. Been there, done that. That’s an important project but not a “housecleaning” job you do in 15 minutes or less. And there are some huge time-saving techniques I’ve used that I’ll share in another post. Big projects are fun but it’s our simple, daily routines that keep our lives organized and enjoyable.

Good luck and here’s hoping 15 minutes a day will improve your genealogy and family history work!

September 6, 2016 |
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