Choosing a Photo Scanning Service: What Businesses Need to Know

If pictures are worth a thousand words, then your organization needs a photo scanning service to preserve its history.

Businesses put great effort into digitizing tax paperwork and purchase orders, but other physical media shouldn’t be overlooked. Photographs, in particular, degrade over time, leading to the loss of classic ad campaigns, documentation of a brand’s legacy, or beyond. That’s why companies undergoing a digital transformation need a photo scanning service that can restore and preserve these artifacts for years to come. Here’s what businesses should know to find the scanning service that’s right for them.

Read our free ultimate guide to discover what to look for in a photo scanner for home or small business.

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What are photo scanning services?

Photo scanning companies support a broad range of customers, from families who need to colorize family albums to archivists with hundreds of historical documents. With so many client demands, not every operation is ideal for every use case — working with the wrong one may yield unsatisfactory results. And sadly, given the fragile nature of the physical photographic medium, a bad result might mean the permanent degradation or even destruction of images.

For businesses, photos are not just marketing content. They represent a brand’s legacy, telling stories that are difficult to communicate with the written word alone. Since some photo scanning services need everything to be delivered to remote facilities for digitization, there’s always a risk these historical items will be damaged or lost forever. By researching in advance and working with reliable partners, you can reduce this risk.

Why are photo scanning services necessary?

Photo scanning

While many consumer-grade scanners available support photograph digitization, that doesn’t mean they can handle every photo scanning need. For example, businesses with extensive physical archives might have hundreds of images in multiple sizes that require specialized feeders, or may require an especially high resolution. Older photos can also be demanding to work with, as the chemical processes used in developing physical photographs can make them an especially volatile and fragile medium.

Outside of accounting for size and volume, different photo scanning services can have specific offerings:

  • Individual photo drop-off: Most local photo businesses can provide same-day digitization services, allowing for a quick turnaround.
  • Photo scanning box: Some services prepare a photo scanning box for clients processing a high volume of photographs, such as 1,000 or more. These containers are sent directly to clients, who can fill them with photos and ship them back using pre-paid delivery options.
  • Negatives: If the original photographs are unavailable, some companies can digitize images directly from preserved negatives.

Photo restoration

Photo restoration refers to any effort to digitally modify photographs by reversing damage from aging or environmental factors, upgrading their resolution, or removing unappealing visual artifacts. As a business offering, most photo scanning companies offer some combination of the following options:

  • Repair: Photographs can easily become damaged if they are exposed to the elements, mishandled, or stored incorrectly. Repair services aim to digitize the document and restore the image to a non-damaged state.
  • Refinement: Even if a photo is kept in good physical condition, age and light exposure can cause the image to fade, blur, or otherwise deteriorate. Photo refinement can reverse these processes to make the photo look like new again.
  • Retouching: Modern photography equipment and techniques help make today’s photos sharp and colorful — something that was significantly more difficult to accomplish with older equipment. Photo services can retouch images to make them more crisp and clear.

Did You Know?:The ScanSnap iX1600 features a 50-page automatic document feeder and can scan up to 40 pages per minute.

What to look for in a photo scanning service

So, what is the best photo scanning service for your business? The answer will depend on your use case — a company that specializes in repairing damaged family photos isn’t necessarily the right fit for quickly digitizing decades of corporate photographs and vice versa. When evaluating whether a photo scanning service is right for you, keep the following questions in mind:

How long will it take?

Scanning photos may not sound like a time-consuming task, but that depends on several factors. For example, minor corrections on a single image might take a day. In contrast, specialized repair and restoration will take several, to say nothing of delivery times if photos need transport between facilities. Once you understand what services you need, get an estimated timeframe alongside the quoted price.

Do they need additional samples?

Sometimes a photograph cannot be restored with basic editing. If the damage is severe, entire faces might need to be recreated from the ground up, which usually means the restoration team will need additional references. These image sampling and advanced reconstruction techniques may require extra time so relevant details can be supplied after the fact.

What do previous customers think?

Customer review websites are a good starting point, but ratings from websites like the Better Business Bureau can provide broader insight. Just remember that you’re not looking for a photo service that never gets bad reviews — you also want to gauge how they respond when something goes wrong during the scanning and restoration process.

What is the best photo scanning service for businesses?

With those criteria in mind, here are some of the most popular and highest-rated photo scanning services that are suited for business use.

ScanMyPhotos

ScanMyPhotos says it has digitized more than a billion photos since its formation in 1990, and its impressive spread of reviews and profiles backs up that lengthy service record. Its services include transfers from photographs, slides, film negatives, and even VHS tapes.

Digmypics

Digmypics.com bills itself as “the online photo scanning and video transfer pioneers,” helping to define the modern industry since its formation in 2002. Its suite of digitizing services includes a range of premium handling options that ensure transparent pricing even in the case of unusual or particularly difficult photo scanning jobs.

ScanDigital

ScanDigital’s simple breakdown of services offered makes it easy to estimate costs for even large batch jobs ahead of time. Its standard photography package includes digitization for any photo that is 8” by 10” or smaller, though larger photographs are also welcome at special media pricing.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX1600

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a photo scanning solution. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy-to-use, one-touch ScanSnap scanners.

The ScanSnap iX1600 is the new flagship in the ScanSnap family, supporting speedy digitization of a variety of documents with up to 600 dpi scans for color images. It’s built for usability at each stage of the digitization process, from easy touch-screen options at the beginning of the scan to instant cloud service uploads, making your important photographs instantly available to the entire organization if desired. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of scanners.

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