Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should be scanned and archived?  What would you not want to lose if a fire or flood were to destroy your house and contents? What photos do you have that would have value to others? In my own case, I have made (and continue to make as I find them) multiple copies of family treasures. Each of my siblings has copies. In other words, I approach the answer to that question with the idea of  "safety in numbers," and I encourage you to do the same.
  • Are there any photos that cannot be "fixed?"  Sometimes. Out of focus photos are a prime example. While I can "tweak" the sharpness and some other qualities of the image to a certain degree, the image will remain an out of focus photo. Fixing such images tends to be a time consuming and expensive proposition, and in general, if an alternative photo exists that is in good condition, I encourage its use.
  • What about photos in albums?  In general, it is best to remove the photos from albums before they are scanned. That also provides you with an opportunity to use a PAT (Photo Activity Test) approved label to write (with a #2 pencil) on the back the subject matter and estimated date of the photo. That way, if the photo ever becomes separated from the remainder of the album, the information is still there. "Magnetic" photo albums are problematic. The "magnet" part boils down to glue plus static electricity. The plastic often lifts off just fine, but the photos frequently are permanently stuck. And, to compound the problem, neither the glue nor the paper on which it is bonded is acid free, so the photos end up turning yellow or brown, and there is not a lot to do about it except to try your best. If there is no way to remove the photo, send either the entire album or individual pages, being sure to mark the photos you want scanned. Pictures in frames are discouraged.
  • I see services that scan photos for much less. What makes your service more valuable?  Services that are advertising for much less are using high speed, automatic feed, mass production scanners. While these are great for documents and photos of the same size, they do not do so well with older photos that may be fragile or in a variety of sizes. I specialize in caring for such photos; each package that arrives is opened gently, and the contents are handled with cotton gloves to prevent the transfer of oils to the images. Only one order is dealt with at a time, so there is no possibility of confusion or mixing of photos. You get back exactly what you sent, plus three disks containing high quality, individually scanned images. Each photo is scanned once, saved, and minor corrections made. You get both images on your disks. (If major corrections are needed, I can do that as well.)
  • All of your examples are black and white or sepia. Do you work with color photos as well?  Absolutely! Since my emphasis is on historical photos, I made a "creative decision" to post B&W and sepia as my examples. One thought to keep in mind: negatives for color photos are usually readily available, and high quality prints can be made from them, if that is your preference. The negatives can be scanned and the resulting images cataloged as well, and usually the negatives have not been subjected to scratching, fading, etc., so the end product comes out better.
  • What is your philosophy about how "far" to restore old photos? When do you stop making adjustments and corrections?  Historic photos, in my mind, need to remain historic – but still be preserved digitally. In other words, when I am done with a photo, it needs to look like the original, just cleaned up so that it communicates the content more clearly. I prefer to stop short of "perfect" (if such a thing actually exists). Philosophically, historic photos need to remain historic regardless of the medium on which they are stored, paper or disc.
  • Can you convert 8mm films to DVD? What about VHS tapes?  The long and short answer is "no." I have decided to specialize in making high quality, high resolution scans of personally meaningful, valuable photos and slides. In medium and larger metropolitan areas there usually are a number of businesses that can perform this service for you. An internet search will also yield names of businesses that specialize in this service.
  • Can individual pictures be taken from 8mm and VHS media?   Yes – and no. The end result is often less than the quality I desire in my products, so I encourage you to explore other means of preserving those memories by having them converted to DVD or another more current format.
  • How long does a CD or DVD stay readable?  A better question is perhaps "How long will there be machines that can read DVDs and CD-ROMs?" The medium itself is reasonably stable; even "cheap" CDs and DVDs will usually last 10 or 15 years if not abused. Archival CDs and DVDs will last much longer, especially if kept in a climate controlled setting. But, think of the 8 track tape or reel-to-reel tape. At the time, they were "state of the art" technology. While they can be converted even now, it is becoming more and more expensive to do so. The best strategy is to try to keep current with the technology of the times, updating to new media before the old disappears from common use. And, keeping your precious photos safe is equally important; think of the DVD or CD-ROM as "insurance" against a catastrophe such as a fire. Digital copies are not the original and never will be, but they are far better than losing the memories – and history – paper photos represent.
  • Will I be able to play my DVD to show on my television?  The DVD you will receive is a "data" DVD, and not one formatted for television viewing. If you would like one that will play on your television, please let me know and I will be happy to make one for you at a reasonable cost. There are so many options that it is impractical to list them all here. The reason I chose to focus my business on scanning and preserving photos digitally on data media is that once the images have been changed to a television viewable format, it is next to impossible to get a high quality image back.
  • Are there alternatives to DVDs and CD-ROMs for preserving valuable photos?  Yes. Saving your data, whether it is photos, text, or video, on a hard drive is one of the most stable alternatives. Better yet, make that two or three hard drives – in separate locations – for added insurance. If you choose to have your photos scanned with me, they are stored on two external hard drives for five years, then erased. If you would like me to store them for a longer period of time, please ask, and I will work out an arrangement.
  • How soon will I have my original photos and DVDs?   Usually my turn around time is less than two weeks from the time your photos reach me, though there are times that are busier than others. You will be notified if you will be waiting longer than usual for your finished product.
  • Can I make prints of the originals once they are scanned?   Yes!
  • How do I take care of CD-ROMs and DVDs once I have them?  It is recommended that one copy be set aside, not used, and stored in a safe, climate controlled place such as a safe deposit or fireproof box. Copies, if needed, can be made from this archival copy. In addition, Honor Your Past will retain a copy in an archival setting for five years. If the need for additional copies comes up, please feel free to contact me and I will be glad to help.
  • How do you return ship the originals and disks?  I will return your order insured, priority mail, with delivery confirmation; I also insure your photos for $500.