Before digital cameras, when someone would take a picture, you either took it to a specialist who could develop them or you had a camera that instantly spit a physical copy out. In both cases, they were physical copies, but neither were digital. Ask your grandparents to see some old pictures they have. They won’t be digital.
This presents a problem: they will age, yellow, even fade over time. A digital photo, on the other hand, can be preserved basically forever. So, naturally, people take pictures of their pictures. In doing so, their picture is forever kept safe even after the original dies.
And, as a bonus, there’s software available that can upscale your photos, maybe clean them up for clarity. With that being said, let’s look at the various ways you can take pictures of your pictures.
Take Pictures with Your Scanner
One of the issues you’ll often run into when taking pictures of pictures is glare. Grant it, there’s a few apps out there that can reduce or remove glare, like Google’s PhotoScan app. But if you’re looking for something that has more than one use a scanner. At this point, scanners are compact, cheap and can be bought all by themselves without a printer strapped to its hip.
The best part is no glare is involved, and they are easy to use. You place the picture face down on the scanner, close the lid and press a button. That’s all there is to it. And with it connected to your computer, it can be instantly uploaded to your desktop. From there you can apply any editing, send it to the cloud or upload it to social media.
However, scanners will take up some real estate in your home. There are some very small scanners, but it takes up space. On top of that, if you’re dealing with very old photos, handling them may not be the best idea. So, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require buying a whole new device and want to avoid damaging photos, then look at the other options below.
Use a Digital Camera
The next best thing is using a digital camera, and not your phone, no. Instead, if you have access to a digital camera and a tripod, you can take some excellent photos of your pictures. This is due to digital cameras – dedicated digital cameras – often being higher resolution than the digital camera built into your smartphone or tablet.
So long as you have a digital camera and a tripod, you can take some high resolution photos. Here’s how:
1. Start by placing a large, white canvas of some kind on the floor or table. It can be construction paper or a sheet of paper, if the photo is small, so long as it’s white.
Note: If you forego white paper and use black paper, you’ll make it harder to see the edges when or if you edit.
2. Attach the digital camera to the tripod.
3. Disable flash. Instead, opt for natural lighting. Open windows and turn on lamps, so long as it doesn’t add glare. Natural lighting is better and the flash of your camera could cause glare.
Note: If need be, you can always adjust the aperture to accommodate reduced lighting or too much lighting. By default your digital camera will adjust accordingly, however, it doesn’t always judge correctly.
4. On your digital camera there’s a setting called “ISO.” Keep it around 100 as this can reduce the amount of graininess.
5. Set a timer on your camera. Don’t take the picture yourself. This can make the tripod wobble and if it does, you’ll end up with a blurry image.
6. Place the photo on top of your white canvas and aim your camera facing down.
7. Take a picture.
Use an App to Scan Photos
Believe it or not, there’s applications available that can “scan” your photos. Rather than carry around a scanner to do the work, you can combine the ability of a scanner with the power of your phone’s digital camera. This is a great option if you don’t have a dedicated digital camera or a scanner.
However, you should be aware that this doesn’t provide the highest quality. For starters, it relies heavily on your phone’s digital camera. If your camera isn’t good, the photos won’t be good either.
With that being said, using something like Google PhotoScan (Android | iOS) will not only provide a great digital copy of your picture, it will also send it to Google Photos. You can then use Google Photos to do some light editing, fix saturation, add some warmth, maybe a filter.
But, arguably, the best part is Google PhotoScan removes glare. If a picture is secured behind a glass frame, PhotoScan can work past it. And if there’s too much glare, you can use Plan B, which has you snapping photos at different angles. Google PhotoScan then takes those images and stitches them together.
Pay Someone to Digital Your Photos
There’s a market for people to have their photos digitized. It wasn’t that long ago people were using disposable cameras and with how nostalgic someone can be, it’s a no-brainer that photos from the ‘90s and back are being preserved. The first stop to make is any local stores.
You’ll want to gather all of your pictures first and ensure that nothing risqué made its way into the pile. Once every photo is accounted for, take them to the nearest photo shop (or one you can afford) and drop them off. They will take the time to digitize them and place them inside a USB flash drive. And yes, you will still keep the original pictures.