If it's important to you, you will find a way.

If not, you'll find an excuse.

Photo pile with rising graph on top - Scanning Progress Report
Hey, welcome to my second progress report!

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, and I am going to detail each one of them 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 scanning service to do 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.

Quotes

In that same report, I started off with a nice inspirational quote, and I think I am going to keep with it.

I love motivational quotes. It quickly puts things into perspective. And for these reports, the quotes will continue to be about your struggles — our struggles — with managing what feels like monumental tasks associated with our collections.

How This Report is Different

What's different about this progress report from ones I will be doing in the future is that it's made up of 2 complete months worth of my scanning and editing (restoration) work. From here on out though, there will be a separate report for each month.

I admit, it was probably a mistake to do 2 months here. But, since I put out an article about my first week back scanning and its accomplishments shortly after this last progress report, I thought it would be too soon to put out another one.

But then, after seeing how much information I have built up, I now know I should have broken it up into two. Oh well — lesson learned!  smile

My Scanning Progress for February 2012

Alright, let's get to it. Here is a chart that shows you all of the scanning and editing work I did in the month of February.

I didn't get a clean start at the first of the month. When I made up my mind to start scanning a little bit each day, I was already 10 days into February. So the first month here is going to be a little light.

Note: If any of these charts are just too much for you, that's completely okay! Seriously. It's okay to just skip past some of them. As part of my desire to be transparent, I am listing all of this data for anyone who finds this interesting and helpful.

 

My Scanning Progress — February 2012
DateScannedTypeTime
Feb 1010Prints43 mins
Feb 1162Slides240 mins
Feb 12
Feb 1313Slides23 mins
Feb 1420Slides68 mins
Feb 1528Slides58 mins
Feb 1629Slides62 mins
Feb 1732Slides58 mins
Feb 1838Slides67 mins
Feb 1934Slides83 mins
Feb 2028Slides35 mins
Feb 2129Slides65 mins
Feb 2230Slides57 mins
Feb 2332Slides58 mins
Feb 2430Slides73 mins
Feb 2528 / 19Prints / Slides106 mins
Feb 2632Prints43 mins
Feb 2732Slides58 mins
Feb 2832Slides59 mins
Feb 2922Slides52 mins

My Goal

My goal was to set the alarm clock an hour earlier than I used to. This way I could get up every morning and get in at least an hours worth of scanning before going to work. Then on the weekends, I would sleep in a bit, but still scan first thing before doing anything else. It would just become my daily routine.

Sometimes I went over 60 minutes, but other times I went under. It just depended on the day, how early I woke up that morning, and possibly how challenging the photos were to get a good scan.

After several days, 30 started to become the magic number. It seemed like 30 slides or prints was a good number that I could easily hit in an hour or less. It has basically become my new challenge each day — hit 30 scans before the clock clicks one hour.

Notice, you can see that just 3 days in, I had already taken a day off. This wasn't laziness or a lack of devotion. Sincerely. I was that sick that day with a fever. I was actually that sick the next day too but I made myself scan anyway. Now that's devotion!

Thumbnail view of slides I scanned and imported into Aperture

The “thumbnail” view of some of the slides I scanned and imported into Aperture on February 15th.

Deciding Which to Scan Each Day — Prints or Slides?

For several reasons, I decided to concentrate more of my days to scanning slides over prints. Roughly, I decided to scan slides about 5 of the 7 days in a week. Here's why:

  • I have more slides than prints to begin with — so gotta' get through them!
  • From my previous experience, I know I can usually scan prints much faster than slides, so I need more days to do a similar amount with slides.
  • My Dad is anxiously waiting to see his entire slide collection “unearthed.” So, I don't want to keep him waiting any longer than I have to! Prints have been easier through the years to pull out and look at, but digging out the slide projector and screen isn't something that has been done in our family for the last 20-30 years I would say.

But, my suggestion to you, if you have more than one format, is to find a rhythm that works for you.

Maybe you would find a greater sense of accomplishment if you do all of one format first before moving on to the next. Or maybe if you have your entire collection sorted chronologically from the start, you might just want to move forward through it that way — prints or slides, whichever is chronologically next.

The best thing is to just figure out what works for you and stick with it so that every time you sit down to scan, you know what you are going to be working on. You don't want to waste time each day trying to figure out your workflow. Your time is better spent scanning.

Alright. So now let's get to the interesting part…  the subtotals for the month!

In these charts, because this was my first month to report, I didn't have any data from the prior month to compare it to. So, you'll see I left those columns empty.

February Subtotals

Photos Scanned – February 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper Prints Scanned38N/A
Slides Scanned542N/A
Totals580N/A
Total Time Spent Scanning – February 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper Prints1 hr 11 minsN/A
Slides19 hrs 46 minsN/A
Totals20 hrs 57 minsN/A
Average Time Spent Scanning – February 2012
ItemAvg. This MonthAvg. Last MonthDifference
Time to Scan a Print1 min 52 secN/A
Time to Scan a Slide2 min 11 secN/A
Time Spent Daily1 hr 6 minsN/A
Photos Edited – February 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper PrintsN/A
Slides5N/A
Totals5N/A

My Thoughts After the First Month

My first thought was, “I absolutely can't believe I'm actually doing it!”

After all of those years that I wanted to do this project but just kept putting it off, I can hardly believe I am finally accomplishing it.

I am completely thrilled!

And the best thing is, so far, I am not waking up in the mornings and thinking, “You know, I really don't feel like scanning this morning.” No seriously.

The only times I have missed days have been either a much needed vacation with my wife or I just COULDN'T because I had to be away from the house for a large portion of the day. Sometimes, I just could't make up the time that day.

If you really are so devoted that you feel bad about missing your scanning session, you can make deals with yourself that you will make up that session at another time when you could scan or edit, say… twice as much.

Editing Photos

You can see in that last chart above that I only edited (restored) 5 photographs. By editing I mean taking the time to straighten, crop, remove dust and scratches, and color correct each photo.

You may choose to have your scanning or editing software do a lot of this automatically to save you time. I’ve chosen to take the long route and do it all manually so I can maintain more control over the outcome. I not only want to preserve a raw (unedited) version but also a corrected one that meets my high expectations.

For me, editing isn’t as much of a priority at the moment as the scanning portion is. Really, they can be edited at any time in the future. The worry is that something will happen to the originals before they are scanned! (Think “fire”)

And the next most important thing I really want to do before process of editing them all is to have my family help me sort, label and caption them. They have more knowledge of who and what is in a lot of these photographs — many of which were taken before I was even born!

I know it may sound morbid, but time is passing and we only have access to our family while they are still alive. So, you gotta prioritize what's most important to accomplish first in your collection.

The Importance of Cleaning Dust Off Slides

Table full of tools I use to clean my slides when I scan them

Don't let this table of “tools” I use to clean my flatbed and slides intimidate you. They are very affordable, fairly easy to find, and very easy to use.

As I started to do a lot of slide scanning again, it quickly came back to me how important it is — if at all possible — to clean the dust off of old slides before you scan them. And man, old slides have a ton of it on there!

The problem is if you don't brush it off, your digital images with be littered with these little black specks.

And it's not just a speck here and a dot there. It's like, if I may quote John Dunbar in one of my favorite movies “Dances with Wolves” when he tells his new friend Kicking Bird how many white men are coming:

Like the stars.”

You can see on February 11th it took me an excruciatingly long 240 minutes to scan 62 slides. Ouch!

That day I was trying to come up with the best workflow to safely get this dust off of my slides before I scanned each one. See if you scan them with the dust, and later decide you aren’t happy with the dust on your digital images, then you have to resort to digitally editing them using “dust filters” or manually “painting” them out. It’s actually not that hard, it’s just more time consuming than most would prefer.

Additionally, if you choose to use “dust removal” settings (such as Digital ICE), they will be much more effective with less dust to decipher.

Tools I was trying out that day:

4 Slides sitting in Epson V600 waiting to be scanned

Four slides brushed of dust and put into my Epson V600 waiting to be scanned.

I actually found all of these tools to be extremely useful for their own purposes. But, if we're talking about the single best tool to remove dust from slides, the one I now couldn't work without would be the Kinetronics Staticwisk brush. That thing does wonders.

A lot of Time Required to Dust Dust?

I actually found myself getting into an excellent rhythm where it only takes me a few minutes longer total each day to brush and blow the dust off of each photo.

My scanner, the Epson V600, scans 4 slides at a time. At the beginning of my scanning session I take a few minutes to dust off 4 slides and then load them into the scanner.

Since it takes a little over a minute for the scanner to scan each of the 4 slides, I have a good solid 5 minutes or so free to be dusting off the next set of 4 slides before it’s their turn to be scanned.

So, you can see how you can be very effective with your dusting technique and not require much additional time if you are just efficient with the time you do spend.

My Scanning Progress for March

And now here's my work for March. This was a full month, so I can really show you what you can accomplish if you just set your mind and attention to your photo collection.

My Scanning Progress — March 2012
DateTotal ScannedTypeTime Spent
Mar 0118Prints35 mins
Mar 02
Mar 03
Mar 04
Mar 0535Prints59 mins
Mar 0628Slides90 mins
Mar 0748Slides132 mins
Mar 0828Slides67 mins
Mar 0928Slides63 mins
Mar 1022Slides51 mins
Mar 1143Prints48 mins
Mar 12
Mar 1319Prints28 mins
Mar 1436Slides79 mins
Mar 1522Slides91 mins
Mar 1613Slides36 mins
Mar 1732Prints57 mins
Mar 1840Prints57 mins
Mar 1932Slides59 mins
Mar 2032Slides82 mins
Mar 2128Slides87 mins
Mar 22
Mar 2332Slides73 mins
Mar 2436Slides74 mins
Mar 2547Prints62 mins
Mar 2635Prints39 mins
Mar 2732Slides86 mins
Mar 2832Slides95 mins
Mar 2932Slides74 mins
Mar 3032Slides71 mins
Mar 3132Slides73 mins

More Days Off — Doh!

I'm sure you may have noticed I missed some days in March too. Again, that's okay. You just have to get used to the fact that life happens and you will just do you best to stay on the schedule you put forth for yourself.

In the case of those three days at the top, my wife and I took a much needed mini-vacation with close friends, and she wasn't about to let me take my scanner and photos to the hotel room! At least, I don't think she would have let me. Hmmm.  smile

March Subtotals

Photos Scanned – March 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper Prints Scanned26938+231
Slides Scanned545542+3
Totals814580+234
Total Time Spent Scanning – March 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper Prints6 hr 27 mins1 hr 11 mins+5 hrs 16 mins
Slides23 hrs 03 mins19 hrs 46 mins+3 hrs 17 mins
Totals29 hrs 30 mins20 hrs 57 mins8 hrs 33 mins
Average Time Spent Scanning – March 2012
ItemAvg. This MonthAvg. Last MonthDifference
Time to Scan a Print1 min 26 secs1 min 52 secs-26 secs
Time to Scan a Slide2 min 32 secs2 min 11 secs+21 secs
Time Spent Daily1 hr 8 mins1 hr 6 mins+2 mins
Photos Edited – March 2012
TypeThis MonthLast MonthDifference
Paper Prints1+1
Slides65+1
Totals75+2

My Thoughts After Month 2

Photos Scanned:

Wow — I scanned 814 photos in just one month! And that's just from doing a little bit at a time.

This means if you have an averaged-sized family photo collection, which I understand is about 3,000 photos, if you followed my “morning schedule” routine you could be finished in just a little over 3 months. That's not bad at all!

Average Scanning Times:

After almost a full month of non-stop scanning, I can see that I am in fact scanning prints quite a bit faster than slides as I had expected.

It's taking me and my V600 on average 1 minute and 26 seconds to scan a print, but a full 2 minutes and 32 seconds to scan a slide.

I'm actually pretty happy with those numbers to be honest. With a modest-sized photo collection, you will be done faster than you think with times like that.

Slide marked #01000 - My 1000th photo scanned

On March 7th, I crossed the one thousand line scanning my 1000th photo — #01000.

Milestones Accomplished

March happened to be a month of “1000” milestones for me.

Scanned Photo #1000!

On March 7th, I tattooed the number “01000” along the bottom of the slide which represented the 1000th photo that I was about to scan.

Wahooooooo!

When you have almost 10,000 photos ahead of you at the beginning, getting to the 1000th really felt like I was finally making some progress.

A dorky picture of me holding the 1000th slide I scanned from my collection

That's me (barely awake) holding photo #01657, the 1,000th slide I scanned from our slide portion of our photo collection.

Scanned 1000th Slide!

Then, March 30th represented another huge day for me — well my Dad and I both.

I scanned photo #01675 that morning which happened to be the 1000th slide from our collection!

I was so happy, I memorialized the milestone with this extremely DORKY webcam snapshot!

(I really was still trying to wake up when I took that. That was way early! I'm more likely to do things like this then!)

Hey, at the time it seemed like good idea. I'm only posting it hoping it might continue to inspire you to work towards your own milestones — and then of course, do silly things like this!

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 2 months of scanning.

The big numbers at the bottom rows of these 2 charts are what I now focus on. It's like fuel for my inspiration seeing these numbers rise every day!

 

Total Scanning & Editing Counts as of March 31, 2012
TypeCurrent Scanned CountCurrent Edited CountScanned Count Last MonthEdited Count Last MonthTotal Collection
Paper Prints642137303508
Slides10871154255810
Totals17291291559318
OVERALL COMPLETED
This MonthLast Month
ScanningScanning
18.56 %9.82 %
EditingEditing
0.13 %0.05 %
Entire Project
9.34 %4.94 %

I LOVE IT!  After only two months of scanning, plus some previous work I had done beforehand, I have scanned a total of 1729 photos!

And I see two other numbers that are really exciting to me as well. First is that at 18.56%. I am almost 20% finished scanning with all of the photos I have here at my house. Incredible!

And the second number is that 9.34% for the whole entire project. That means next month I will easily cross the 10% line.

If you look back at my first progress report at the end of January, just 2 months ago, I was only 1.80% complete with the entire project. So in just 60 days or so, I have come a long ways!

As you are scanning your own collection, crossing these “milestones” will be really important to you.

When you first decide that you really want to scan your collection, it's so easy to keep telling yourself, “But I have so many photos — I will will never get it all done!”

But then you start, and before you know it, after doing a certain amount every day, or every weekend, or however you choose, you hit your first milestone and then everything changes.

The Fruits of Your Labor

Even though personal photos can rarely mean anything to someone outside of the family, I want to share with you the best part of scanning your photos — the reward — the “fruits of your labor!”

I can't possibly share with you all of my photos I've recently worked on, nor would you want me to, but I would like to leave you with a few (unedited) photographs that I scanned in these past two months that have a lot of meaning to me, and just might — I hope — resonate in one way or another with you too.

Just wait, I bet you'll find photos with similar importance to you, just like these! It's so extremely rewarding. smile

Thanks for reading this — now, if you haven't already, go make your photo collection a priority!

Cheers!

Road in 1963 with Vintage Dairy Queen

(Photo: #00694)  Does that say 12¢ hamburgers at Dairy Queen! It's easy to just see an old street with old cars here. But, what I see when I look at this photo is the life ahead of my Dad who was just 21 years old when he took this. In a way I never could before “seeing” it through his slides, I'm beginning to get to know this younger man I never met. He wasn't my Dad then, but someone with a goal in life, a ride down this street, and probably a new camera!

 

My Dad getting a military hair cut on a military base

(Photo: #00710)  I have seen so few photographs of my Dad when he was in his 20's or younger, so to discover a photo like this is an absolute treasure! He's getting a military-style haircut while he was stationed on an Air Force Base in 1963. Since my Dad really can't remember the events of this day, I am left to imagine who it was that grabbed my Dad's camera to take this photo and why.

 

My brother and I as kids working in the kitchen on high chairs!

(Photo: #02014)  I am such a sucker for vintage photos like this one from the 1970's. Boy, this one's going to need a LOT of color correction! But that's me on the left in the more precarious position. My brother's a bit safer on the right standing on the larger sturdier chair. In the next photo of this series, I have probably fallen off onto my head and am balling my little eyes out! (LOL)

If it's important to you, you will find a way.

If not, you'll find an excuse.

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