My Inspiring Photo Scanning Progress Report for May 2012

by Curtis Bisel
updated: February 9, 2024
Curtis Bisel
February 9, 2024

There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.

~ Mark Twain

Welcome to my fourth monthly progress report — this time covering the month of May 2012!

Last month was a fun month for me. Not only was I this close (holding two fingers close together) to completing a personal goal of mine to scan every day of an entire month, but I also received a package from my Aunt Karen with a bunch of amazing old photos of her and my Dad when they were kids that I had never seen before!

This month, was… not so fun.

For me, this month was insane!  So read on, I’ll tell you all about it.

What This Progress Report Is Really About

Every month, I am posting a detailed report — just like this one — sharing with you how far I have come with my goal to scan and restore my entire 10,000+ family photo collection.

By doing so, I hope to inspire you to do the same!

In my first progress report, I set a goal for myself to do a little bit of work on my collection every single day. I shoot for about an hour a day each morning which turns out to be about 30 scans. And I am going to record and detail each day so that you can learn from my transparency.

I don’t want to be “that guy” — a guy that tells you how you should scan your own photos but then sends all of my own to a photo scanning service to do all the work for me.

I have absolutely nothing against these services. In fact, I love them! But, I want to not only prove to myself that I can do this, but more importantly, I want to prove to you how almost anyone can scan and organize their own photo collection too!

It’s not impossible. It’s just about putting in the time, energy and devotion.

My Scanning Progress for May

Alright, so here’s what I was able to accomplish with my photo collection in the 31 days of May.

My Scanning Progress — May 2012
Date Total Scanned Type Time Spent
May 01 21 Prints 28 mins
May 02 35 Prints 50 mins
May 03 12 Slides 27 mins
May 04 32 Slides 73 mins
May 05 26 Slides 47 mins
May 06 30 Slides 59 mins
May 07 32 Slides 58 mins
May 08 32 Slides 63 mins
May 09 33 Slides 29 mins
May 10 32 Slides 54 mins
May 11 28 Slides 73 mins
May 12 32 Slides 73 mins
May 13 28 Slides 53 mins
May 14 09 Slides 24 mins
May 15 32 Slides 71 mins
May 16 24 Slides 59 mins
May 17 19 Slides 48 mins
May 18 20 Slides 36 mins
May 19 32 Slides 64 mins
May 20 16 Slides 30 mins
May 21 32 Slides 51 mins
May 22 37 Slides 81 mins
May 23 30 Slides 64 mins
May 24 32 Slides 71 mins
May 25 22 Slides 60 mins
May 26 32 Slides 63 mins
May 27 24 Slides 52 mins
May 28 28 Slides 76 mins
May 29 20 Slides 55 mins
May 30 27 Slides 52 mins
May 31 30 Slides 59 mins

31 Days of Scanning Out of 31!


So last month, I was so excited because I thought I had met my personal goal of having at least one month where I didn’t miss a day of scanning. Then, when I took a closer look at my spreadsheet with all of my numbers for the month, I noticed that a day had escaped me! I actually had only scanned 29 of the 30 days of April!

That was a little frustrating for me. But, it was okay. I was determined the next month I could do it — I was going to scan a “perfect month.

Scanning When Life Gets Really Busy

One thing I hadn’t considered when I made this promise to myself, was how difficult my video editing job was going to be this month — my job that actually helps bring in money. I was finishing up on basically the last 4-5 weeks of a huge project I had been on for a few months and it was requiring me to work on it every day. Yup, that’s weekends too!

And I am not talking about 8 hour days either. I mean, 12-16 hour days.

I considered blowing off the photo scanning for a couple weeks there near the end. I was really becoming afraid that losing that extra hour of sleep every morning, just to get up early to scan, was going to push me over the edge. I was worried that being a little bit more tired every day would add to my level of stress and increase the likelihood that I would get sick. And let me tell you, being sick and editing video do not go well together.

But, there was something very relaxing to me about the decision to continue my scanning routine. It was giving me something “normal” to look forward to every morning before I started my extremely full day of work.

I know that may sound a bit weird, but it’s true. It was much easier for me to drag myself out of bed when I knew I was about to scan some family photos than it was the thought of doing more “work” again!

And I did something else to make scanning even more fun. I made a point to watch some really fun sitcom television shows while I was scanning so that I could keep my mind almost stress free for that first hour of the day.

Yes, You Can Do It! Even If You Scale Back

This month has proved to me, that when someone writes to me and says, “Curtis, you know I work 2 jobs and I have 3 kids and they have ballet lessons and this and that, so how can you suggest I have any time to scan 30 photos a day!?“, I can now say — without a doubt — that anything can be done!

Now, I will admit my lovely wife helped fill in a lot of the gaps for me. She cleaned the house, and she cooked meals for me and even brought them to my work desk. And when she went to run an errand, she knew I had no time to go out myself so she would ask if she could bring me something.

So, yes, it’s possible you could have it rougher than even I had it in May. But, the point is you can still move forward with your goals to scan and organize your photos no matter how busy you are.

For example, if you were doing an hour a day or maybe 4 hours on the weekend, just cut back when you get really busy. Instead, do 15-30 minutes a day or just 2 hours on the weekend.

Try not to stop for an extended period of time — you will lose the momentum you have been working so hard to achieve. 

Can You Believe…. My 3000th Photo Scanned!

On May 12th, I crossed the 3000 line with my photo collection!


I even set up my video recorder to capture writing the actual number on the slide before I scanned it so I could show you. (This isn’t a recreation!)

Writing out 3000 on the 3000th photo (slide) I scanned!
Writing the number on my 3000th scan! If you want to know why I am even writing numbers on these slides, check this post about my filenaming system.

May Subtotals

So here I am going to break down all of the numbers above a bit more to give you a better idea what your schedule could look like when you scan your own photo collection and how much you can expect to accomplish.

Photos Scanned:

Photos Scanned – May 2012
Type This Month Last Month Difference
Paper Prints Scanned 56 382 -326
Slides Scanned 783 546 +237
Totals 839 982 -89

Even though I scanned 2 extra days this month over last, I actually scanned 89 less photos. But, that’s because I made the decision not to really scan any prints this month.

Stack of small white labeled boxes of slides that I scanned this month.
Here is what I was able to accomplish this month because I put my mind to it! That’s 11 small boxes of slides. The number on the front was my original count of slides in each box.

Why I Chose Slides Over Prints This Month

I chose to scan slides almost exclusively this month because even though it takes a little bit longer on average to scan a slide than it does a print , I’ve found with my collection, it’s less work “mentally.”

Because slides are the same size, there is a consistency about them. I scan them all at the same DPI (no fiddling with dpi setting), I always load 4 at a time into my scanner (Epson Perfection V600 Photo), and they’re all stored in similar-sized containers.

I’ve found that with all of the various photo albums, bags and photo pages that my prints are stored in, during a stressful time like this month, just dealing with the consistency of slides was easier on me. I can really zone out and become more “mechanical.”

Choose Your Own Consistency

So when you are really busy, maybe you will have found a type of photo that you can scan easily on “auto-pilot”.

For example, instead of scanning a box of random sized unorganized prints, maybe you could just set aside a stack of all 4×6 inch prints — if that’s what’s easiest for you — and knock them all out a little bit at a time. That could be your consistency that will make it easier for you get through a hard time.

Total Time Spent Scanning:

Total Time Spent Scanning – May 2012
Type This Month Last Month Difference
Paper Prints 1 hr 18 mins 9 hrs 32 mins -8 hrs 14 mins
Slides 28 hrs 14 mins 20 hrs 45 mins +7 hrs 29 mins
Totals 29 hrs 32 mins 30 hrs 17 mins -0 hrs 45 mins

All these numbers seem about right. You can really see how much more time I put into my slides this month here.

Average Time Spent Scanning:

Average Time Spent Scanning – May 2012
Item Avg. This Month Avg. Last Month Difference
Time to Scan a Print 1 min 24 secs 1 min 30 secs -0 mins 6 secs
Time to Scan a Slide 2 mins 10 secs 2 mins 17 secs -0 mins 7 secs
Time Spent Daily 0 hr 57 mins 1 hr 3 mins -0 hrs 5 mins

Additional Photos Added:

Additional Photos to Collection – May 2012
Type This Month Total Collection
Paper Prints 0 3,546
Slides 30 5,842
Totals 30 9,388

I gained 30 extra slides to my total collection count this month all due to an early miscount when my wife and I originally counted all of my photos. And I can’t blame her, because well, I counted all of the slides!

Sometimes slides are hard to count when they are lined up in a box. It takes extreme concentration and I’m sure we had some fascinating television show on that drew my attention away here and there!

So all this means is that, for example, in a box of slides where I originally thought it had 72 inside, after doing the scanning, I realized it really has 82. So, over the course of this month, I scanned 11 boxes of slides and each box was off by about 3 slides (on average) from my original count.

Small box of slides with writing on outside showing the numbers 72 and 82 scanned.
The front number 72 was my original incorrect count which I corrected on side with the correct count — 82. I’m sure when I am finished scanning and my records are complete, I will remove the tape from the front and replace it with the one from the side for long-term storage.

Editing Count:

The editing count is the number of scanned photographs I have taken the time to “correct.” This could be anything from straightening, cropping, removing additional dust and scratches, and color correcting the photo. Some photos may need a lot of editing, while others may need next to nothing at all.

If you choose to do any or all of these corrections on your photos, you can either do some or all of them right away in your scanning software, or do like I am doing and do them later in a piece of editing software — such as a “non-destructive” image manager.

Photos Edited – May 2012
Type This Month Last Month Difference
Paper Prints 0 0 0
Slides 0 0 0
Totals 0 0 0

You can easily see I didn’t do any editing this month. Like I said in February and March’s progress report, the editing isn’t as much of a priority for me right now as the scanning, organizing and labeling. And, it’s really helpful to do this while my family members are still with me and can help, so I’ve decided to put most of this off until the end.

Final End of Month Counts

So now, since we’re almost finished here, I want to present you with where my photo collection stands after finishing up four months of scanning.

These totals are what I now focus on. They really let me know how far I’ve come, and how far I have left to go.

Total Scanning & Editing Counts as of May 31, 2012
Type Current Scanned Count Current Edited Count Scanned Count Last Month Edited Count Last Month Total Collection
Paper Prints 1,080 1 1,024 1 3,546
Slides 2,416 11 1,633 11 5,842
Totals 3,496 12 2,657 12 9,388
This Month Last Month
Scanning Scanning
37.24 % 28.39 %
Editing Editing
0.13 % 0.13 %
Entire Project
18.68 % 14.26 %

It feels really good to see a number like 37.24% up there for the overall amount of scanning I have accomplished. It almost makes up for that completely pathetic 0.13% I still have for my editing count!  (laughing)

But that’s okay. Do you know what I tell myself that makes me feel better?

I can look at an “unedited” digital version of a scanned photo on my computer, but I can’t look at one that hasn’t been scanned yet!

Whenever I see a burning house on the news, and I see the families crying as they watch everything they own burn to the ground, I always wonder to myself if they lost their life’s photo collection in there.

I saw a video not too long ago with a teenage girl holding what was left of their family photo album after a fire. She didn’t lose all of her photos, but she lost all of the photos of her Mom. She no longer has a single photo of her Mom when she was young. I feel so bad for her.

I just want to get them scanned and safely (redundantly) back them up.

Your Newly Scanned Photos —The Fruits of Your Labor

Even though personal photos can rarely mean anything to someone outside of one’s family, at the end of my Progress Report posts, I like to share with you the best part about scanning your photographs — the reward — the “fruits of your labor”.

I can’t possibly share with you all 839 photos I scanned in May, nor would you ever want me to!

But I would like to leave you with a few photographs that have a lot of meaning to me and just might — I hope — resonate in one way or another with you too.

If you haven’t digitized your own collection yet, then just wait! I bet you’ll find photos with similar importance just like these!

It’s so extremely rewarding. 🙂

Thanks for reading this report! And after you check out my photos — if you haven’t already — go make your photo collection a priority in your life!


Post it note that reads "I know you want to see a few of my favorite may photos right?"

View from the stands of the Indy 500 race from the mid 1960's.My parents took me to the Indy 500 a few times while I was growing up. So, it was really cool to find this slide from the mid 1960’s. Not only is it kind of fun to see how clean and dressed up the infield crowd was back then, (now you are lucky if they have bathed in the past week and are even wearing clothes!) but it’s also fun to see how far the Indy car itself has changed through the years!

Photo #02921

Four ladies completely dressed up to go out on the town back in the 1960's.This isn’t just a photo of some important ladies in my life, this is a photo of some women in the mid 1960’s ready to hit the town! I mean come on! This really does fit the saying “from head to toe.” They even have the hats and gloves thing going on! You have to respect this period of time when going out meant wearing the best outfit you owned and spending the first half the day getting into it!

Photo #02967

Mobile home being moved into place by old semi truck.I was thrilled to find a series of photos my Dad took in 1966 when my young, childless parents were in the period of their life when they were moving to various places around the country. I think it’s really neat my Dad took the time to document this so his sons could see it later!

Photo #02990

My brother and I drinking from a lion's head water fountainI’m not particularly fond of drinking from public water fountains now, but I’m sure this was just the “cat’s pajamas” getting to drink out of this water fountain when my brother and I were young! And this photo does a remarkable job of reminding me how cruel life has been on my hair — going from curly blond to straight gray in just 30+ years!

Photo #03248

There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.

~ Mark Twain

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