5 Step Process to Scan Old Photos for Genealogy Research

5 Step Process To Scan Old Photos For Genealogy Research

Let’s suppose you have a box that is full of cherished family photos. In that case, you are lucky enough and you are not alone. You can indeed use this resource and this valuable 5 step process to scan old photos for your genealogy research.

5 Step Process to Scan Old Photos for Genealogy Research

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There are many people all over the world who have photos stored away in their closets that are gathering dust. Please don’t let this forgotten treasure go to waste.

You need to learn how you can use these photos to further learn the history of your ancestors.

When you research your family history you can turn your stack of old photos into a remarkable photo book.

To do this you will need to scan and digitize your photos. There is an easy way to save them for the future generation.

Scanning can be done from a smartphone, such as an Android or iPhone.To do this you can download a scanning app on your smartphone.

The scanning process from your phone will save you time by cropping, de-skewing, adjusting, and adding lighting.

A Bluetooth camera or wi-fi camera can help you to transfer your photos to your smartphone.

Let’s now look at how you can use the 5 step process to scan your old photos and further your genealogy research.

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1. Gather and Divide the Equipment

The very first step to start your genealogy research is to gather all your photographs and old records that you have in one place.

If some tangible items cannot be scanned then you may want to take the photographs and write your ancestors’ history online.

Also, if you cannot gather your photos all at once then you can make a list and then digitize them later. Your older relatives may help you to collect old photos and memories of your ancestors.

Interviewing your relatives, or even friends and neighbors of your ancestors is definitely a worthwhile task that you can complete.

The next part in this first process is then to divide your pictures into events, such as vacations, weddings, and birthdays.

If some of the pictures are not from events then another way is to separate them by a person.

Set aside any duplicates that you have. Each pile that you have compiled can be sorted chronologically.

And then finally you may want to separate the photos from each pile into ones that you only want to scan for your research, (you may though want to scan the whole lot).

2. Set up for Scanning

A scanner will be your best choice for this next step in the process. But if you don’t have one then there are other ways for you to scan your photos.

The following are ways that will help you:

  • Flatbed Scanner – This scanner has the best scanning features, such as image enhancement and photo edge detection. Current printers mostly have this type of scanner. It can though be more limited in size and features, and placing the photos on a flatbed scanner can be difficult.
  • Auto-scan feed – If you have thousands of photos to scan then this type of scanner can be beneficial as it is a fast way to scan them.
  • Smartphone – Smartphones are improving all the time. It can be the easiest way for you to scan your photos by just installing a scanning app.
  • Camera – Using a camera is not as convenient as the other devices discussed above. This is because it requires perfect lighting, software, and other adjustments to get the best results.

For the flatbed scanner, my recommendation is the Epson Perfection V600 for your photos. And if you have negatives then my top pick is the Jumbl All-In-One scanner.

3. Storage Decision

Before you do start the scanning process you will need to decide where you will store your scans. This may be on your computer or on an external device.

It is recommended for you back up your photos files. So, you will need to store a second copy of your scans. Heaven forbid if you were to lose the scans that you have spent time and energy on.

Also to keep in mind is that these high-resolution photos will fill a lot of storage on your computer or any device that you have chosen to use.

Next, you may want to make a copy of these photos onto your Google Drive, or anywhere else in the Cloud. This can be your backup strategy.

4. Make Adjustments

Scanners these days also come with software that can make the job easier for you. The most recent ones can even help you to scan the photos directly to your cloud storage account.


Scanning a photo with the JPEG file setting in RGB at 300dpi with 24-bit will give you the best color for your photos.

If you want to edit your photos later it will be better to use the format of TIFL. The file size for these photos can be quite large though.

For any negatives that you may have it is best, you use a setting of 2400 to 3200dpi.

Make sure before you start the scanning process that the right location is set. You do not want to spend all that time and energy scanning your photos only to not know where exactly you have saved them.

It is first better to check the settings and take a look at where the scan photos will be saved.

5. Start Scanning

While you are scanning your many photos, by one pile at a time, make a different folder for each pile of photos that you have.

For each file, you can add some information. You can details such as the date that the event took place and what the event photographed was.

The information that you have added can help you to sort your files.

One final tip to add is that when you scan each photo please put them. This will help you determine which photos you have scanned and which haven’t been.

You do not want to try to remember which ones you have and haven’t scanned. It will only cost you a lot of wasted time and frustrate you.

Wrapping Up and Further Help!

Genealogy is an interesting and fascinating hobby. It can help you to connect to previous generations of your family, by knowing who they were.

Family history research helps you to save the memories of your ancestors for future generations.

By reading this post you will now know why you should scan or digitize your old family photos.

Today, technology has helped us in so many ways.

Scanning your old photos can be accomplished through different devices, even with your cell phone.

Genealogist Lisa Louise Cooke provides many useful tips, such as how to Remove Damage From Photos. If you are going to scan your old photos and keep them forever then it is best that you save them in their best condition.

So, please check out Lisa’s website.

Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post discussing the 5 step process to scan old photos for your genealogy research. If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.

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Article Name
5 Steps to Scan Your Old Photos
How can you preserve your family photographs? This 5 step process shows how to scan your old photos. Keep your ancestors' memories alive with this post.
Publisher Name
The Genealogy Guide
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