Last Updated on April 20, 2020

While doing research for this article, I found GoPhoto, a service that scans your old photos, negatives and slides and helps you put them online, for only $0.28 per scan. GoPhoto is based in San Francisco area, but they provide services across the entire US.

Digital photography is so widespread today, that it’s hard to believe there was a time when we had all our memories on paper. It was fun to show all those photo albums to friends and family, there’s no doubt about that. But those were other times. There was no internet, there was no e-mail, no Facebook, no Photobucket, no Twitter, not even computers (at least in my early childhood). Now we stopped showing photo albums to people, we just upload pics on Facebook or send them in email messages. It’s all so cool, but what about old photos?

If you want your old photos converted to digital, there are three possibilities:

Take pics of your pics

You need a flat surface, a digital camera and good light. Put your old photos one by one on the flat surface and take photos of them with your digital camera. Download the photos into your computer and you’re done. If you know how to use Photoshop or other similar programs to adjust your pictures, do it. If not, the result will still be satisfactory if the light is good and you pay attention to the camera focus. By satisfactory, I don’t mean the images will be good, but they will be better than nothing. Here’s one of mine, which I didn’t alter in any photo editor:
My old photo before retouching

Not too bad, is it? The original photo was a bit yellowish and that shows, but I think I did a good job overall, I can upload that photo on my Facebook profile and it will look fine. I tried something, though: increased a bit the contrast and fine-tuned a few more things in Adobe Fireworks. Here’s the result:

My old photo after retouching

I am pleased with my work. However, it takes quite a long time to get it right. I took about 7 shots of the original photo to get this one and I still think I could have done a better job.

Scan your photographs

The first solution is addressed to people who can’t or don’t want to learn how to use anything more than their photo camera. This one is a bit more complicated, but the result is better. The downside of scanning is that it takes a lot of time. Scanning one or two photos only takes 4-5 minutes, but multiply that with 100 or 1000 photos and you’ll see how many days or weeks of your life you’d have to spend in front of your computer.
I wanted to give you a sample by scanning the above photo, but had to give up because the scanner doesn’t work, which is one more reason to move to the third option:


Take your pile of photos and go to a scanning center. They will do the job for you. Such centers have professional scanners, much better than what we have at home. Prices may vary, but I think most of you will find such services that are affordable. I’m going to give you only one example, GoPhoto. I haven’t used them, but they seem professional. Moreover, they don’t take upfront payments. You send them your photos, they scan everything, then they send you an internet address where you can see and choose only those images you want to keep. Only after that they will calculate how much you need to pay, based only on the photos you’ve selected. Click here and enter the number of photos you’d like converted to see a price estimate.