Everyone has a story. And many of us have boxes, bins, and drawers full of photos, videos, and movies that can help illustrate that story. In my case, it’s a five foot high fireproof jeweler’s safe. The problem is that putting it all together in a form that will make sense to our children and their children is a daunting, often overwhelming task. What’s worse than not organizing those materials is losing them to a fire, flood, or other disaster. When you hear about people who’ve lost their homes, the one thing they are saddest about is often the loss of those irreplaceable memories. And let’s face it, life is finite. How many of us lose loved ones who leave behind boxes of photos with no stories to explain their rich history?
Stacey Cahn, who owns “Time In A Bottle Video Productions,” is an expert in putting together legacy stories. Her first suggestion is to organize your materials. Just taking that step will make the process less overwhelming. She says organizing materials chronologically is the best way to start, but organizing by media type such as photos, movies, and videos is also helpful. Then you start scanning. That in itself has been a slow, often tedious process. But Epson has just introduced a high speed photo scanning device, the Epson FastFoto, that dramatically improves both the speed and ease of scanning, naming, filing, and storing hundreds or thousands of photos in short order. It can scan about one snapshot a second at 300 dpi. The machine will do better quality, 600 dpi, but a little more slowly.
But the scanning mechanics are only a small part of what FastFoto can do. The software makes it easy to organize pictures by dates, events, and people and can even be set so that it will restore faded photos, reduce red-eye, and color correct. If you’re not sure if you like your pictures as they were or as you might like them to be, you don’t have to to decide – the system will save both versions. The scanner will also grab the notes on the back of photos in the same pass. And if you’re looking at photos that predate you, those notes may be the best information you have to work with.
The FastFoto scanner is really optimized for snapshots. You take a bunch of photos of the same size, as many as thirty at a clip, and bingo, they are scanned, corrected, annotated, and saved. It does handle larger format pictures and documents, and comes with a plastic sleeve to protect fragile or damaged pictures. But this may not be the solution for all your scanning requirements. I have photos on stiff boards dating back to the late 19th century that I wouldn’t even think about running through an automated scanner. If you have fragile photos, older photos that should not be bent (part of the FastFoto’s operations), or slides, you may need to use a flatbed scanner. We’ve had a lot of success with the Epson Perfection V600. And while the FastFoto is being touted as the world’s fastest, there are plenty of other flatbeds on the market from Canon, HP, and others. One reason we like the V-600 is its software, which allows simultaneous scanning of multiple slides, while putting each slide in a separate file. It will also scan negatives (remember those?). Sounds a bit more complicated than it really is.
Of course, these days you’re also likely to have old movies, videos in a variety of formats, CD’s, and digital files. Some of these can be digitized at home, others will need to be professionally transferred. In coming weeks, we’ll look at some of the pros and cons of professional scanning services. We’ll give you some tips on what storage media you can use to safeguard your precious memories, and we’ll talk about how to pull together all of your materials to tell the stories of your lifetime in ways that will be informative, compelling, and most of all – memorable.