Have you recently come across some old family photos that have made you feel connected to your past? Your great grandfather was a snazzy dresser, and grandma had beautiful curls and a smile good enough for the silver screen. Or perhaps you're an archivist who wants to conserve photos for future generations.
Digitizing and making copies of old photos can be challenging, but you can be prepared with these tips in your back pocket!
Extra Advice: if you're after tips on how to frame and enlarge vintage or antique photos, head on over here.
1.) The Basics: Take a Photo of a Photo
We know this is the most low-fi option of all, but sometimes having a mediocre quality copy of a family photo can be better than nothing, especially when that is then securely backed up to the cloud. Grab your digital camera or phone and get ready to send Aunt Minnie, a treasured picture of her mother without having to rely on the US Postal Service.
Some tips for making the photo of the photo as high quality as possible:
- Place your old photo on a smooth, horizontal surface. Tables and even the floor can be a good choice.
- Be sure to remove any visible dust or dirt from the photo and camera lens.
- Light the image as best as possible, but avoid overhead lighting as this will cause glare and unpleasant shadows.
- Grab a tripod and place your camera parallel to the photo. Yes, that means facing down directly. Careful; depending on how heavy your camera lens is, it may try to plummet forwards.
- Adjust the tripod to ensure the image is taking up all of the viewfinder. Some extra space on the side can be suitable for future cropping in photoshop and co.
- Ensure your camera is set to its highest possible resolution. This is all about the details. If you're working with a teeny tiny photo, you may want to bust the macro lens out.
- Leave the flash off to avoid the before-mentioned glare of doom.
- And snap! Take several pictures to avoid having to go through the whole set-up again.
2.) Step Up in Quality: Scanning in a Photo
Scanners and printers are probably the most hated pieces of tech, but sometimes we can't avoid them if we need to take something from the physical world into the digital world. The chance of getting a better quality image out of this is better than taking a photo of a photo. You knew that already, didn't you?
Here are our tips to get the best possible scanned version of a photo:
- For best results, set your scanner to color or greyscale. Even if your image is black and white, you want to avoid the black and white option as that one is reserved for documents.
- Pick a resolution above 600 DPI.
- Avoid asking the software to straighten the image for you, as you can lose valuable pixels. Depending on the age of your photo, those are steps down in quality that you cannot afford. Instead, place the image on the scanner straight; those edges are there for a reason.
- Save in TIFF or PNG to avoid destroying the quality of your new scanned photo.
3.) Call in the Photo Pros
Sometimes an old photo is too far gone to be able to make copies on your own. How do you know you need a professional to make copies instead of relying on your DIY skills?
- Damage: if the image has significant damage, you need a professional photo restorer to take a closer look. This specialist skill takes years to perfect, and we think grandma Doreen deserves the best.
- Lack of Scanner: you may have a document scanner kicking about in your attic, but it may not produce a high-quality outcome.
- Heritage Purposes: If you're looking to make copies of an old photo due to great historical significance, it can be a good idea to consult the experts. Otherwise, you may lose valuable time tinkering with items that can be damaged the more you handle them.
Thankfully, The Frame Room has years of experience in digitizing, restoring, and framing your memories. Pictures are often a time capsule of the past. We are the experts in the field, and our professional restorers and framers can't wait to ensure the best copies of your family photos or museum items exist for future generations.
4.) What Do You Do with Your Original Photo?
Great, you've managed to make a copy of the photo and have distributed it to everyone who wants some. Perhaps even some people who didn't want a copy, but you wouldn't let it go until they took one away. We understand the desire to share copies after you've spent a lot of time and some money on this photo project.
Does it feel like a shame to simply put the original back in a box for another generation, or that dreaded damp to find? We agree. Why not get the original framed and give it pride of place on your wall? The Frame Room provides custom framing online and in our Baltimore studio, and we even offer free shipping for your precious items.
With a plethora of mounts, frames, and glazing to choose from, you're sure to find what you need.
About: The Frame Room
We've been the experts in all your framing and printing needs since 2002 and pride ourselves on using those 20 plus years of knowledge to provide the best possible service for our customers. Photography and framing is our passion, but customer happiness is our guarantee.
Please contact us today to find out how we can restore, conserve and frame your photos and allow them to shine in your home. Our designers and framers are more than happy to answer your questions, no matter how silly they may seem to you!