This is a description of the process I used to scan a large collection of photos and slides. This is the process I used. I am not saying it is the best process. I am not saying that it will make sense to anyone but me. The goal was to make a good digital copy of all of our photos. I was not trying to make museum-quality nor National Geographic-quality images. Just images that would evoke memories. It worked well and gave us what we needed.
I had approximately 8,000 photos and slides to be scanned. Most were in drug-store/photo developer envelopes. Some were in albums or loose in boxes. The slides were in Bell and Howell slide cubes or in plastic slide holders. A few slides were loose in boxes.
Most of the photos that belonged to my wife and I were in some sort of order. Those that belonged to my mother-in-law were poorly organized. In any given envelope there could be a combination of photos that had nothing in common with each other (different time periods, different events, etc).
My first decision: Sort then scan, or scan then sort? This decision was fairly easy. There were approximately 230 envelopes. After opening and sorting two envelopes, I already had about 15 groupings of photos on my dining room table. And making the decision regarding which group each photo belonged in, or whether to discard a photo, was not cut and dry. At this point I decided to scan all of them and sort them later, using Apple Photos.
The second decision that I made was to keep the original photos and destroy/discard all of the negatives. This was a personal preference. For further discussion of this, please refer to the internet.
For the 7000 or so 4” X 6” and smaller photos I used an Epson FastFoto FF-640. The scanner is a fast, sheet-fed scanner with a top resolution of 600 dpi. Epson has a new wireless version capable of 1200 dpi. The main problem with this scanner is occasional problems with white lines on the scanned photos resulting from dust/dirt on the inside of the scanner. Epson suggests cleaning the scanner after every 300 scans or when you see the lines appear.
My scanning process: Remove the contents of the photo envelope. Place photos in scanner. Scan photos @ 600 dpi. The software will ask you to name the batch of photos before it starts scanning. The naming convention I used for each scanned image, was a letter followed by a 3-digit number. The scanner software adds a sequential number to each image. So the images from the first envelope were named A001_0001, A001_0002, etc. Second envelope, A002_0001, etc. The scanned images were placed in folders named with the prefix (A001, A002, etc).
After the photos were scanned, I checked for quality. If the quality was good I went to the second envelope. If the images showed the white lines or other problems, I discarded the scanned images, cleaned the scanner, and repeated the process. After each envelope was scanned, I wrote the number in a blank book with some short notes about the photos in the envelope (year, event, people, places, etc). I then placed the original photos in new acid-free/lignin-free archival envelopes labeled with the prefix (first envelope A001). I destroyed/discarded any negatives and placed the original envelopes in the recycle bin.
My process for the 1000 slides and other photos (larger photos and less flexible photos, like Polaroids) was to use the Epson Perfection V550, a flatbed scanner that has accessories for scanning slides/negatives. The process was similar to that outlined above. In general, the slides were scanned at 4800 dpi and the photos 600 dpi. The naming convention for the slides was S00x_xxxx and L00x_xxxx for the lager photos. The original slides were placed in the archival envelopes and labelled accordingly. The larger photos were placed in regular large envelopes and labelled as well.
We ended up with approximately 8000 scanned images. The 315 envelopes with the original photos were placed in boxes and stored in a closet. Each box is labelled with the name of the contents. They take up about 9 cubic feet of closet space. We have a notebook with the descriptions of the contents of each envelope. So, every photo is cross-referenced between the original photo, the scanned image, as well as the notebook. This should make it easier if I were to want to find the original photo for rescanning or sending to a relative.
All of the scanned images were imported into a new Apple Photos library. All images were given the same keyword NoAlbum. This is where the sorting and discarding take place. This is the most time-consuming part. This took about 2-3 months. I did a little every day. I went through each photo and either discarded it or placed it into an album. My goal was to place each photo in only one album. Once I put a photo in an album I would remove the keyword, NoAlbum. That way when I started sorting each day, I could start with the images that weren’t in any album. Once I had every photo in an album, I added a keyword ALB followed by a 3 digit number. First album keyword is ALB001, etc. I will eventually add additional keywords and allow photos to be in multiple albums. Re:keywords… OogieM has a great post here: Editing image metadata of digitized analogue photos?
Currently I have the scanned images backed up to Time Machine, as well as an external SSD and MS OneDrive. Because this Apple Photos library is not my system library, I am planning of putting a copy in iCloud.