Photo Scanning 101

Everything you could ever want to know about the Vintage Photo Lab photo scanning service

Hopefully you can find everything you need to know about digitising your old printed photos, 35mm slides and photo albums on the pages of our website. But, for convenience, and for people who like to read long lists, here’s 60 things we have learnt providing our service over the years, some frequently asked questions, hints and tips and more general information to help you along the way.

The what

1. We offer a professional scanning service to help you digitise all your old printed photographic material.

2. It’s a task that is on many people’s to-do lists, albeit often quite near the bottom…

3. Don’t panic. It can be a little daunting and that box might seem like a lot of scanning to you.

4. Luckily, we’ve done this a few times before and can make light work of it.

5. All you need to do is choose a service to get started.

6. Or just pick up the phone if you have questions.

The why>

7. Customers use us for general preservation, but also to make gifts such as photo books, calendars and canvases.

8. To create a celebratory slideshow for a special occasion like a landmark birthday.

9. To preserve family photographs for future generations.

10. To guard against damage, loss, fire or theft.

11. To share a life story.

12. To pass on the family history to the next generation.

13. To copy albums and archives for multiple siblings/relatives.

14. For separated couples each wanting a copy of their old memories.

15. So people can access their old photos when emigrating and their belongings are going into deep storage.

The how

16. Orders can be placed online at our website.

17. If you know exactly what you want, we have some packages at fixed prices. If you need something else, please just ask or book a Custom Order.

18. Prices always include courier collection and return from anywhere in the UK, digital download (via Dropbox) and a 120-year archive-quality DVD with your files.

19. When you place your order, we post you a pre-paid courier shipping envelope. This comes via Royal Mail and should be with you the following morning, depending on the reliability of your postman. (Cut-off time for posting this is 4.30pm Monday to Friday and 10.30am Saturday).

20. There’s some instructions explaining how to pack your photos in the shipping bag, and how to book the courier collection; this can be done easily and quickly online.

21. The overnight UPS service arrives to us around 11am and you’ll receive a message from us as soon as they arrive confirming they are safe.

22. In all the years we’ve been doing this we haven’t had so much as a single photo go missing.

23. If you live within 15 miles of Marlow, Bucks, we'll collect in person. For London in-person drop-off requests, please get in touch. Please note this is by appointment only.

Loose photos

24. The shipping bag is large enough to hold a regular shoebox.

25. A well packed shoebox contains eerily close to 1000 photos.

26. The average UK household has 3000 old print photos.

27. Eighty per cent of loose photo orders are sent to us in an old shoebox. If you don’t have a shoebox, the Post Office sells boxes of a similar size.

28. We used to send a cardboard box with the UPS shipping bag but they always ended up at the Post Office sorting depot and were generally a bit of a pain.

29. For very big orders we can send a large plastic storage box and arrange a custom collection.

30. Your photos don’t need to be collected from the same address we sent your shipping envelope. Often, customers take their photos to work and we collect from there, you can leave with a neighbour or friend, or you can ask us to send the shipping bag directly to the person in your family who has those particular photos.

31. Your photos will usually be scanned within 2-3 days depending on how busy we are. If you are working to a pressing deadline (a funeral, printing a photo book or preparing for a birthday or house move for example) please just let us know and we can usually expedite an urgent order.

32. As soon as we finish scanning your photos we will email you a download link so you can view or download your scans and check you are happy with the results. This is a full version of the scans, they are not downrated or of an inferior resolution.

33. In the very unlikely event you are not happy with a particular scan, and want us to check them against the originals, just send us the scan number(s) and we’ll check to see whether the imperfection in the scan also appears in the original or not. Ninety nine times out of 100 this is the case. Occasionally, however, dust can leave a streak or a line on a scan but our scanning operative usually catches this and corrects it as they go.

34. All orders include a 120-year archive-quality DVD with a copy of your scans on. Sometimes we are reminded that DVDs are somewhat dated technology, and that optical drives are becoming less common in modern computers. The reason we still send them is because they function well as your belt and braces backup copy and should be stored somewhere safe. We also recommend backing up your new scans to the Cloud.

35. Once you confirm you are happy with your scans – or after 5 days, whichever comes first – we’ll courier your originals back to you with your DVD, plus any additional media (DVDs/USBs) you have ordered.


36. Photo albums are slightly more complicated than loose photos and so vary slightly in how we scan them and in the pricing.

37. There’s many different types of photo album but broadly they fit into one of two categories:

– Regular book-style album with photos fixed in position, usually in a specific order, often chronological or depicting a period of time like a holiday.

– Albums with sleeves into which photos have been inserted (slid in).

38. For the first type, we typically recommend scanning these with each page in-situ. Once upon a time, someone lovingly put that album together and it seems a shame to lose that warmth and composition. Often an album is a snapshot of a time period or special event like a holiday, once enjoyed by a family.

39. We start with the cover and scan each page as its own scan. This gives particularly good results when viewed on a phone or tablet as you can flick through it like you did the original, using ‘pinch-to-zoom’ for when you want a closer look at some detail.

40. Album covers are usually very distinctive and very recognisable by members of the family so it’s nice for the digital copy to share that image as well.

41. Smaller, basic albums are between 20-40 pages.

42. Some have that cellophane cover that lies over the page.

43. Others can be a foot thick, leather bound and be more like scrap books containing a multitude of history. We commonly see things like original telegrams, birthday cards, wedding invites, drivers’ licenses, ski passes, invitations and even hospital baby wristbands. We capture everything so if there’s a greetings card, we scan it both closed and opened, so you don’t lose any of the information.

44. Albums need to be scanned by hand, page by page using a flatbed scanner. Because it’s so manual, our pricing falls into three levels of discount based on volume. After a certain point, it simply becomes a matter of time it takes our scanning technicians to work through them.

35mm slides

45. Slides scan wonderfully. The colours are instantly recognisable.

46. 35mm slides were popular right through the 60s, 70s and 80s. Some of us will have distant memories of ‘projector nights’ looking at the latest holiday photos from when an intrepid family member came back from some far-flung exotic destination, like Wales.

47. Projectors are fairly few and far between now so bringing these 35mm slides back to life has the added magic of seeing certain images that haven’t been viewed properly for several decades.

The how much

48. You can see our pricing here as well as in the individual product pages of the Order page here.

49. The great thing about digitising an old set of family photos is that there’s usually lots of people who would like a copy, therefore many of our customers share the cost between brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts etc.

50. You’re only going to go through this process once, so it’s reassuring to know that it’s being done properly.

51. Most family photo collections are somewhat dispersed but typically the Baby Boomer generation has the lion’s share, followed by Gen X, with Xennials bringing up the rear.

52. Nearly all family archives include loose photos, often still in the envelopes from when they were developed. Only around 30% have any 35mm slides and around 75% have compiled photo albums.

53. Our pricing includes courier collection and return to anywhere in the UK.

54. We have a 100%, money-back, satisfaction guarantee. We take your photos very seriously and we won’t stop until you are happy.

The what then

55. Once digitised, your new scans mean your memories are preserved forever.

56. Safe from fire, theft, loss, flood and fading.

57. But best of all they are now shareable.

58. Many customers save their photos to Cloud sites such as Flickr, Apple Photos, or Google Photos.

59. You can then share entire collections with family members and friend all around the globe. Not to mention sharing via social media. We can help you do this.

60. Who doesn’t love digging out those old embarrassing photos from childhood? Especially when you aren’t the one in them.

The summary

1. If you have lots of photos, we can digitise them quickly and efficiently.

2. It’s a task you’re unlikely to do yourself so don’t beat yourself up and allow us to help.

3. We’re a friendly bunch. If you have questions, please just get in touch.

4. You can email us here:

‍5. Call for a chat: 0207 019 9009

6. We hope to hear from you soon.

The bye.