Before joining Travel, Stephanie was a New York Times staff reporter for many sections including Business Day, Real Estate, and Styles. She was part of the team that helped create Thursday Styles; the lead reporter for the Metro desk’s Neediest Cases series; and a member of the Continuous News Desk, which provides breaking news content to NYTimes.com
Once you’ve turned the best of your travel photos into art, it’s time to store the rest. If boxes of prints are taking up closet (and psychic) space, there are plenty of sites online that will scan your old photos (as well as negatives, slides and videos) so you can store them digitally. But there are several things to keep in mind.
In general, these sites are a pain to navigate. They’re cluttered with too much text and fine print, and they offer so many options — Do you want your photos scanned in order? Do you want both sides of the photo scanned? — that if you don’t have a goal in mind before you go in, you can quickly be overwhelmed. Decide ahead of time what exactly you want to scan, how many photos you have and how you might use whatever you scan. Also, note that some of these companies by default send DVDs or CDs of your digital files. Not everyone has a CD or DVD player. If you want a thumb drive instead, be sure to select that option (if it’s offered) or call the company and see if it will provide one. Be aware, too, that it’s not unusual for these companies to have long lead times. A number of them digitize your photos in other countries, so it can take weeks to get your images back.
For affordable bulk scans, ScanMyPhotos.com is an old standby (you can read David Pogue’s review on nytimes.com). The company will scan about 1,800 photos at 300 dpi for $145 at its headquarters in Irvine, Calif.; the cost of sending the photo box to you, as well as the shipping of the box to ScanMyPhotos and back to you again is included in the price. That’s one of the least costly and most uncomplicated deals around. Other companies charge for shipping photo boxes. I asked a photo editor at The Times if 300 dpi is sufficient for scanning and she said that to print photos at larger sizes, a higher dpi is preferable. ScanMyPhotos has such an option: a prepaid box for $259 for the same number of scans at 600 dpi instead of 300 dpi. A thumb drive is an additional $15.95 a box.