…or how I magically turned a 50 pound box into just 6 beautiful DVDs with the help of an awesome little company called DittoBee!
We have moved 5 times in the last 9 years. And in those 5 moves, there has been a big, heavy box, triple duct taped together that had never been opened. It had 5 different packing stickers on it and had been recorded on 5 different moving inventories. It had been stored in basements, attics, laundry rooms, outdoor storage areas, and back closets. I knew it was full of my old photo albums and bunches of random loose photos, and as much as I would have loved to look at them, it just always seemed like too much hassle.
Well, now that I am in full-on nesting mode, I kept looking at that poor box, and decided something had to be done with it. No more lugging 50 pound, unopened boxes around the world! I had heard of people sending all of their photos to various companies that would scan them and then send back a nice little DVD of all of the digital images for safe keeping. Sounded perfect for a family on the move like us.
But I wasn’t about to send all of my photos off to just any old photo scanning company. So I researched. And researched some more. And then I found DittoBee, the answer to all of my problems. DittoBee not only expertly scans your photos and puts them all onto DVD, they also convert old VHS tapes to DVD. (Because who really has a VHS player these days?) I had a few of those stuffed into my 50 pound box, so I decided to send those in as well.
The whole process did take me a little while, but was actually very easy and I feel SO much better now (not to mention about 50 pounds lighter!)
Opening that big box and looking at the tons of albums, photos and videos inside was a little overwhelming at first, but I settled in with a season of Grey’s Anatomy on DVD and got to work. I started by taking all of the images out of their albums and putting them in some kind of order so I knew how many photos there were. This part was actually fun, because I was able to spend time looking through all of the photos, reminiscing, but it also made it a very slow process. Even slower when my help arrived.
Once I had everything in order and had a final count of photos and videos, I went to the DittoBee website and placed my order. I chose to have all of my images scanned at 600 DPI, which gives me the option of enlarging the images in the future. Even though I don’t see myself printing a ton of these images (the whole reason I am scanning them is to cut down on the stuff we have to move!) I definitely want to be able to use them in photo books, so for me the increase in file size (and cost) is worth it.
I gathered up all of my supplies:
- images, clean of glue and gunk, to be scanned
- videos to be transferred to DVD
- rubber bands
- a sturdy cardboard mailing box
- the prepaid shipping label from DittoBee
This is where I ran into my first and only challenge of the whole process. Some of my photos had been glued into albums, and the instructions from DittoBee stated that all glue and residue had to be removed from the images before sending them in to be scanned. After a bit of trial and error, I found that all of the glue and residue came of rather easily with a plain washcloth, wet with very hot water, and some gentle scrubbing. Challenge easily overcome.
The online instructions also said that all images should be grouped according to size and orientation. This is to avoid having some of your images upside down or sideways when you get them back on the DVD. I decided that it was more important for me to keep them in order since I could fix the orientation later, so I did not separate the vertical from the horizontal images. (More on this later) I did however follow the directions that said to separate them by size, and then rubber band them (loosely) together in groups of 100 or so images.
Then I packed them all up in the cardboard box, added some bubble wrap to make sure they didn’t slide around at all, closed it up, then said a little prayer or two before dropping the box off at UPS. (Note: it was very easy to track the shipment on the UPS website – which I did – but it was still a little nerve-racking to ship off the only copy I had of all of those photos)
Within about a week I received an email from DittoBee that my images had been safely received at their Miami facility, and that I would be notified again when the scanning was complete and my photos were on their way back to me. The turnaround time for the actual scanning of the photos was surprisingly fast. The DittoBee website boasts a 2-3 week turnaround, which is much faster than most of the other companies I looked at that averaged about 8 weeks! This was perfect for me since once I get an idea in my head, I want it done yesterday. (They also offer an expedited turnaround for a small fee if you have a deadline looming.) Before I knew it my original sturdy little cardboard box was waiting for me on my front porch, with the addition of the DVDs!
I was amazed that everything in that huge heavy box fit onto 6 nice, shiny DVDs. My inner minimalist was in heaven. And when I opened the DVDs to look at the photos, I was even happier. The digital images looked exactly like the photographs, just in a digital format. Perfect! When I have tried scanning my own photos in the past, they tend to come out too saturated and contrasty, or sometimes the colors are a little off. But DittoBee really nailed it.
Now, if your end goal is to simply back up your photos, you could really be done at this point. Put your original photos back into the albums, make a backup of your DVDs, and rest easy knowing that your photos are safe.
But my end goal wasn’t just a back-up, (although that is very important!) it was to go completely digital. And I am pretty particular about how I keep my digital images, so I still had a bit of work to do. I copied the DVD that contained the photos onto my desktop, and started organizing. (I use Lightroom to organize all of my images, but I am pretty sure you can do the same in iPhoto, Aperture, or any other photo management program you like) I first did a little rearranging to ensure that all of the images were in chronological order, then I renamed the images by (approximate) date. At this point, I also went through and quickly rotated any images that were sideways (because remember I didn’t follow the directions about separating the vertical and horizontal images) which really only took a few minutes. Finally, I added keywords and captions to make locating specific images easier in the future. It was a bit of a time investment, but I wanted to be able to finally enjoy the images, not just have them sit on a DVD somewhere. (If you are interested in more details on how I organize my digital images, a full tutorial on that is coming soon.)
Now some of you may cringe at what I did next, but keep in mind that we move a lot, and we have a very limited number of pounds that we can include in our shipments. So after backing up my digital images in multiple places, I actually discarded all of the photographs. Yes, I got rid of them. Threw them out. Trashed them. The really old family photos I gave to family members who wanted them, but everything else was discarded. Albums too. And although I thought that it might be a little difficult, it was actually a very freeing feeling. Like I was shedding 50 pounds. Ahhhh. And now I can breathe.
And a little visual to show how great it feels to go from a 50 pound box to just 6 thin little DVDs…
All in all, I cannot say enough good things about DittoBee. Wonderful customer service, super fast turn-around, and beautiful scanning. And even better, DittoBee is also generously offering you all 20% off your entire order when you use coupon code “Save20″!
So what do you think? Are you ready to purge and go completely digital?
DittoBee provided scanning services for the purpose of this post but all opinions expressed are my own.