Scanning Thousands Of Photos: Linda Sattgast Interviews David Delgado-Part 1

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Think you have a lot of photos to scan? Check out my interview with one of my longtime students, David Delgado, who needed to scan over 14,000 photos because he was downsizing to a smaller house.

Linda: So, David, tell me, how did you get started with the whole family history thing? Is that something you’ve done ever since you were young, or how did you get interested in that?

David: Well, I’ve always enjoyed looking at old photos, and so few years ago we had boxes of photos that we had to do something with. We put them in albums and came out with about 25 albums, and that was fine. But then we even had more boxes of photos that we didn’t have albums for. So when we decided we were going to move and downsize our house I knew I wouldn’t have enough room for all those albums. So I got really motivated to scan all my photos. I started out with a desktop scanner but it was going way too slow!”

Linda: Was this a flatbed scanner?

David: Yeah, a flatbed. First I looked online and found a place that would scan, like 300 photos for almost nothing. Around $20 or $25, but that was just an introductory offer. So I did that and got them back. But if I wanted to continue scanning the rest of my photos it was going to cost me an arm and a leg! 

Linda: How many photos are you talking about here? 

David: Well, I ended up with about 14,000 photos. 

Linda: 14,000 photos! 

David: That’s how many I have now. That would be quite a chunk of change if you had somebody else do it! So I said, “Well, I’m going to have to do it. I’ve got to do it.” Not only that, I was at an age where I thought my kids would want some of these photos. You know, we’ve got to pass some of these along.

So I started doing it. I started scanning all those photos.

I also had to organize them. So I started categorizing them—one book for just my son, one for my daughter, and then one book for both of them together. And a Christmas folder and vacation folders. I must have now, I don’t know, 40 different folders on my computer of photos that relate to particular topics.

Linda: So you went topically mostly?

David: Yes, and that has been a fantastic way to find photos now. If someone asks, “Do you have a photo of that certain event—a family reunion or vacation?” I know right where to get it. And I even have a folder for friends and subfolders for individual friends. So I can find stuff really easy now.

Linda: Did you go through and actually put the paper photos into these categories before you started scanning?

David: No, I didn’t. Well, that’s not really true either, because a lot of our photo albums were organized into categories.

Linda: You had already made photo albums of some of these events. 

David: Exactly. So when I went to my boxes, I first sized them all similarly for FastFoto, but I tried to categorize them too. It didn’t always work, but it was the best I could do.

Linda: Yes, there’s always a tradeoff. I understand—it’s easier if you have photos the same size when you scan with the Epson FastFoto even if it does let you scan some different sizes. I’ve done it that way too. But it’s easier to do it when the photos are all the same size.

David: I felt that way, and then also, I would scan them into a kind of generic folder and then go look at it, and it’s easy to just drag them from the generic folder to the correct folder, so that’s how I did it.

Linda: Give me an idea how many photo albums you had—over 20? 

David: I had about 25 or 26 big photo albums.

Linda: And had you written in those photo albums at all? Any dates or any names or anything like that or was it mostly just photos?

David: No, it was just photos.

Linda: And so in addition to those photo books, how many boxes would you say you had?

David: We had two boxes—good sized boxes—and yeah, the photos were just thrown in there. And it really took a lot of motivation. But again, we were moving, and I had to do something! So that was my motivating factor. I had to get this done because it’s a good thing, you know, just to get it done.

Linda: Was it difficult taking the photos out of the albums at all? Had you used sticky stuff? 

David: Some of them were difficult because my grandparents or my parents put them in—remember those old black albums that were sticky? They used the kind that had stick-um in the back. And some of the photos I had to cut out with scissors.

I couldn’t tear them out. I didn’t want to risk it, so I cut them out with scissors and scanned them that way. So yeah, I had a variety of ways to try to get to these photos. 

Linda: And you say your parents took a lot of pictures? 

David: Oh, they took a lot of them. And my grandparents. My mom’s side is from England and they had those old Brownie cameras back then. They took a lot of pictures back in the thirties, forties, and fifties. So I had a lot of those. My grandparents on my dad’s side were Mexican and my dad was a photo and video nut. He took videos of everything!

Linda: So you have pictures way back when you were young? 

David: Oh yeah. Yeah. 

Linda: How cool is that?!

David: It’s really cool. And to see my dad and my uncles when they were just growing up as kids is really a special thing. I want my kids to have this. My daughter actually has one photo framed. My dad was raised on a farm in Los Banos, California. They were immigrants and they worked at a farm, and they had photos of where they lived. My daughter is particularly proud of this one picture taken in a field and she’s got that framed. 

Linda: That’s wonderful!

There’s something special about sharing family photos with your kids. You never know which photo will instantly form that connection or when it’s going to happen.

Not every kid gets interested in family photos at the same age, but most of them eventually do get interested. 

<< See my review of the Epson FastFoto scanner

I’ll share another video next week where I continue my interview with David Delgado. He’s going to share what he does with the photos after getting them scanned and his backup methods to make sure his newly digitized photos are safe and secure.

To get my latest updates, tips, and tricks for finishing your family history, be sure to sign up for Family History Hero News.

View Part 2 of my interview of my interview with David Delgado >>

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