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How to Build a Photo Scanning and Digitizing Side Gig

A woman scans old photos and saves them on her computer for a customer. The photo she is currently scanning is an old black and white photo of a boy.


Sabrina Hughes is a images historian who operates her enterprise, PhotoXO, from her dwelling in South Pasadena, Fla. She archives analogue photographs utilizing a technique of scan, set up and share. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

As easy because it sounds — and truly is — most individuals are overwhelmed by the considered taking a whole lot and even 1000’s of photographs and organizing them into searchable, digital information.

Then there are the movies filmed on numerous variations of clunky cameras over the many years.

Perhaps probably the most daunting model of unorganized photographic reminiscences are slides. Once the butt of so many jokes about boring dinner events, now they’re coated in mud with no hope of ever seeing the sunshine of a projector once more.

Well, anybody armed with a $229 scanner and a pc could make searchable digital information of photographs and slides. To flip movies into digital information, it takes the unique digicam they had been filmed with or a VCR, an $87 adapter and a pc.

Here’s how to make picture scanning and digitizing your new facet hustle.

Five years in the past, skilled picture curator Sabrina Hughes determined she might make a enterprise out of serving to folks set up their photographs, movies and slides. Her firm, PhotoXO, has a compelling slogan: “Show your photos the love they deserve.”

Her years as a photographer, plus a graduate diploma in artwork historical past and expertise as a curatorial assistant on the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., mix to make her an astute picture archivist. But all of this experience and expertise is just not required.

“There’s a certain point when I’m not doing anything you can’t figure out on your own,” she mentioned. “A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.”

Hughes presents a self-paced on-line class referred to as Disaster to Done for $297, which incorporates lifetime entry to course supplies. But she’s additionally sharing her ideas with The Penny Hoarder.

Get the Right Equipment

Scanner. There are a whole lot of scanners on the market, however she prefers the Epson v600, which sells for $229.
Video adapter. Hughes makes use of the Elgato Video Capture for digitizing VHS tapes. It might be purchased on-line for $87.
Storage. “When I first started out, I was giving everything back on hard drives,” Hughes mentioned. “I was trying to get away from DVDs, since most computers don’t even play those anymore.” She then supplied flash drives full of the photographs. Though they’re additionally turning into much less widespread, that is nonetheless in all probability the most effective software for novices. Hughes now uploads every thing to her web site, which presents everlasting storage.
Software. Hughes makes use of Adobe Lightroom ($119), which permits her to label photographs to allow them to be searched and has picture enhancing features. Software isn’t required to set up unlabeled photographs into folders, nevertheless.


A stack of shopper photographs sits on Hughes’ desk . Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Develop and Perfect Your Process

The first step to beginning your picture scanning enterprise is setting apart a house in your house. It might be as small as a nook of your bed room or a desktop if an precise workplace or spare room isn’t doable.

Next, create a storage system for purchasers’ photographs and video tapes whereas your work is in progress. Of course clear bins that stack are nice, however they arrive with a price. Cardboard transport bins work simply as properly. Place white adhesive labels on the ends with the identify of the shopper and the date the work began. You can place new labels over these when one undertaking is finished and the subsequent shopper’s photographs go into the bins.

To digitize photographs and slides, scan every one with the scanner to add it to your pc. Make information for sure years or subjects equivalent to “1970s beach trips” or “kids’ birthday parties.” Drag and drop the photographs into the suitable file.

A school pupil or actually anybody might do that to make more money.

For movies, they’ve to be performed the entire means by means of on the digicam that initially filmed them and the adapter will transport the films to a pc. If you don’t have the digicam, you possibly can play them on a VCR related to the pc with the adapter.

Warn your purchasers that digitized movies gained’t look so nice on a TV, particularly if it’s excessive definition, as a result of the movies had been filmed with decrease decision. They look finest considered on a telephone or a pc display screen.

You could have to restrict the variety of photographs to digitize if the shopper desires to save on time and your price. If the photographs are organized in albums, ask the shopper to mark which of them to exclude with sticky-notes. If they’re unfastened in bins, counsel you choose which of them to use.

“Sometimes it’s easier for a third party to make the decisions in narrowing things down,” Hughes mentioned. You can choose what you suppose is the most effective of the three or 4 repetitive photographs.

To set up and choose from unfastened photographs overflowing shoe bins or laundry baskets, Hughes hand kinds them into piles primarily based on the garments individuals are sporting, the backgrounds and the time of 12 months.

You can provide picture enhancing if it’s one thing you possibly can deal with. Hughes makes use of a quite simple course of in Adobe Photoshop. “You can also do it as you are scanning them,” she mentioned. Adding, that many scanners have coloration correction choices.

Deciding What to Charge

It’s sensible to cost by the hour if you begin out, and give an estimate of how lengthy the undertaking will take.

Determine forward of time what number of photographs you possibly can scan in an hour. If you might be sorting and scanning, which may be tougher to estimate, but it surely in all probability provides one other 30 minutes onto every hour of scanning. Say you possibly can scan 40 photographs an hour, then it could take you 5 hours to digitize 200 photographs that don’t require sorting.

A excessive schooler or school pupil may cost $30 to $50 an hour, or roughly $150 to $250 for 200 photographs. Allow an additional hour for pc glitches, labeling information and calling the shopper with questions.

A woman looks off into the distance toward a window with an old photograph on a television screen behind her.
In addition to her PhotoXO providers, Hughes additionally presents a self-paced on-line class referred to as Disaster to Done for $297, which incorporates lifetime entry to course supplies. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Hughes began out charging by the hour, however discovered purchasers had been spending a lot time “pre-organizing” their photographs themselves to lower your expenses, it could take them six months or extra earlier than they had been lastly prepared for her to begin archiving. So she switched to a flat price of $2,222 for limitless archiving of slides, photographs or movies. To do all three codecs, she prices $7,777. She additionally presents small tasks a-la-carte primarily based on the quantity of labor.

How to Attract Clients

You might need to provide to digitize photographs for one or two mates for gratis first to get an concept of how lengthy the method takes and what you’ll cost.

Then unfold the phrase on social media. Give an estimated worth of what number of photographs you are able to do for a sure worth. Ask your early purchasers to share one thing about how fantastic it feels to lastly have photographs organized and saved without end.

Digitized photographs make a nice Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas reward. Promote what you are promoting on-line and in emails throughout these occasions and all year long.

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