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Senior Tech Corner: How to Turn Your Photo Albums into Digital Photos

Remember when we all had to keep up with physical copies of our photographs? Some of us may still flip through photo albums, and there will always be something satisfying about feeling those old photos between your fingers. However, most of us use smartphones, tablets, or digital cameras to take photos these days, and there aren’t nearly as many photo-developing services around as there once were. Despite the nostalgia that physical photographs can bring, there’s a reason digital photo storage has largely taken their place. With physical photos you only have a limited number of prints, which are vulnerable to water and fire damage. Over time, they’ll fade and crack. Digital files, on the other hand, can be coped and shared as many times as you want. You can store them in multiple places for back-up storage and they’ll never degrade in quality. Plus, digital photos can be touched up and enhanced with photo-editing software.

Many people today are transferring or “digitizing” their old physical photos onto their computers. An online search can likely find places that will put your photo collection on a hard drive for a small fee, either at a local store or via a mail-in service. You may be able to save a few dollars by doing it yourself, though. Therefore, for this week’s Village Park Senior Living blog, we’re explaining how to digitize your photo collection with a few basic tools.

  1. Collect the tools you’ll need:
    • A flatbed scanner (either standalone or part of an all-in-one printer); make sure it scans at a resolution of at least 300 dots per square inch (DPI), but 600 DPI is ideal for capturing every detail of your photos. The higher the DPI, the better, but 600 should be plenty for everyday purposes.
    • A computer
    • Your photo collection(s)
  1. Organize your photo collection. Depending on how many photos you have and the amount of time they cover, there may be several ways you can do this. Try putting photos from the same year or era together, perhaps using folders and/or labels to make them manageable enough to tell a story.
  2. Create a digital folder on your desktop or another easily accessible location for this project. You can do this by clicking anywhere on your desktop with the right side of your mouse and selecting “New Folder.” Call it “Photo Scans” another descriptive title that helps you identify the file. If you want, you can organize this folder by creating new folders inside it for each year or category used to organize photos.
  3. Hook up the printer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect it to your computer. Now you can start scanning photos. When you scan each photo, a box will pop up on your computer, asking you where you want to save the photo. Save them to that new folder you’ve created or the folders inside it for different categories. Unfortunately, photos must be scanned one at a time with a standard flatbed scanner, so this part might be a bit tedious and time-consuming. If you have arthritis or any other issues that might make this process painful or damaging, take breaks often or ask someone to help you.
  4. To make a backup copy of your entire photo library, all you need to do is connect an external hard drive and copy your “Photo Scans” folder over to it.

If you don’t have the time or feel confident enough in your tech skills to do this yourself, you can hire a service (or enlist your child or grandchild) to do the above process for you. Once the process is completed, you can rest assured that your treasured photos will stand the test of time.

At Village Park Senior Living, we’re dedicated to helping our readers and residents get the most out of their golden years—whether it’s by preserving old memories or creating new ones. If you’re interested in learning about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs & activities we offer, please contact Village Park Senior Living for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.