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September 4, 2019 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Digitizing photos: most similar questions are from several years ago. Does anyone have recommendations for services in the US to which my mom can send off a box of photos, have them digitized, perhaps uploaded to a shared drive on Google Photos or something, and the originals sent back?

I am overseas for the foreseeable future and we can’t go through old photos together. I want to make a private site where we can go through and add dates and people and stories that we remember. It’s only the two of us left and it’s very important to me. A lot of my childhood sucked (not her fault, I was raised by someone else) but I love the stories of the grands and greats of my family and miss them dearly now that I’m an adult. They were the ones that made it bearable and if I don’t get the stories from my mum I’ll have boxes of pictures and no idea who or what they are.

Thanks for any recommendations even if they are second hand.
posted by sio42 to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I had a good experience with ScanCafe, which is generally the cheapest and is one of the biggest services. (Note that they scan in India; their explanation of why that's safe, which I found convincing, is here.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2019

This is A Good Idea. I have no suggestions to make on scanning, however I can suggest that you get your mother a voice recorder she can use. If she uses a smartphone, that would work, if not an oldfashioned tape recorder, or dictaphone, might be better. She looks at the photo, describes what is happening and who is in it, and can add further reminiscences as she desires. This would be desirable regardless of the scanning, as you would be getting a fuller record of what lies behind the photo.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:29 PM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

They’re not cheap, but I had a good experience with Memories Renewed. They did exactly what you’re looking for: I boxed up a bunch of my mom’s photos, some loose, some in albums. They scanned them all and returned the originals, along with a USB drive. It was simple enough to upload them to Google Photos and now everyone can see them.
posted by Troupe of trained rats at 4:07 PM on September 4, 2019

I'm seconding the recommendation for ScanCafé. I've had good experiences with them, though the turn-around time can be lengthy. I sent them about 700 slides a couple of weeks ago, and the estimated completion time is in mid-October.
posted by alex1965 at 4:39 PM on September 4, 2019

Memories Renewed (mentioned above) and digmypics were the top recommendations from The Wirecutter's best photo scanning service reviews from about 3 years ago (apologies if you've already seen their list or if it's still too old). Scan Cafe was also one of the places reviewed.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:58 PM on September 4, 2019

3rding Scancafe, had a good experience with them, and their prices are hard to beat.
posted by Grither at 8:03 AM on September 5, 2019

Thanks everyone!

Mom is a writer so I know she’ll like writing down stories. But that gave me an idea to have her talk about a group of photos and record it, and I can save the audio with the pics.

I contacted both.
Memories Renewed will scan the backs and charge for it only if there’s something there. Scancafe is makes you decide up front and you are charged for back scanning even if it’s blank.

Memories also does a USB drive which is great because I haven’t owned a computer w a dvd drive in like 10 years :-D

Thanks so much for the help folks!!!
posted by sio42 at 1:15 PM on September 5, 2019

OK!! Two points: think carefully about the quality scan you want - crappy or printable at large(ish) size. Better quality, and the memory requirement goes up (but memory is cheap), and I bet the cost goes up too. If you/she retains the photos, you can always get the photo scanned again if you want a better scan, but only you will know how to value the tradeoffs there.

Second: re Scansafe/scanning backs, make up two batches, one to be scanned both sides, the other front only.

Third: make sure that you have trackable, sign on collection, insured postage to minimise the risk of loss en route. (I know, I can't count ...)
posted by GeeEmm at 2:54 PM on September 5, 2019

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