How to Digitize Old Family Photos at Home

You can easily digitize old family photos at home without any special equipment with pretty amazing results. Perhaps you have been tasked with collecting photos that will be included in a memorial tribute or slideshow. If that is the case, you are likely going to have a deadline to work with and need to get started soon!

Here are some easy to follow steps that will give you great results.

Using Your Smartphone Camera to Digitize Old Photos

One of the simplest ways to digitize old photos is to use the camera on your phone. If you have a late model iPhone or Android, the camera will be sufficient to give you good results if you follow these steps:

  1. Find a good clean background in a well-lit area. The background should be a flat vertical surface such as a wall or cabinet door.
  2. If your photo is in an album or frame, carefully remove it and take care to remove any plastic or glass covering the photo.
  3. Temporarily adhere your photo to the background surface. Using a small amount of painter’s tape and forming a tape “donut” can work well.
  4. Open the camera app on your phone.
  5. Locate the photo in your viewfinder and move close enough to fill the frame.
  6. Hold your camera parallel to the background and snap a photo of the photo. Take care to make sure there are no shadows and that your phone is not being held on a slant which will distort the photo.
  7. Use the edit feature on your camera app if necessary to adjust color and crop if desired.

App you can use to Digitize Old Photos

One of the apps that we’ve tested is Google’s PhotoScan app. It works quite well and is free to use.  The free app takes multiple photos of each print to improve quality, remove glare, and correct any distortion.

Download: PhotoScan for iOS | Android (Free)

Organizing Your Photos

It will be important to think about how you want to organize the photos before you get started with your digitization project. Here are some steps to get organized:

  1. Collect the photos you want to digitize.
  2. Consider placing them in chronological order or in the order you will be wanting them to appear in a video or slideshow.
  3. If you have a computer, once you have captured the digital images, create a folder on your computer and upload them to the folder.
  4. Change the file names to a numbering sequence in the order you want them to appear in a slideshow. To rename a file on a Mac, open the finder, select the folder, select the file and right click on the file name and select rename. On a PC, open File Explorer by going to My Computer, or by pressing Windows Key + E on your keyboard. Find the file you want to rename, select it and select Rename on the ribbon (or press F2 on your keyboard). Type the new name you want the file to have and press Enter.

Just a final note. Set aside a generous amount of time to focus on this task. We all know from experience that when we start looking through old photos, a lot of memories will come back and it could take a little extra time to enjoy the experience!