Photo Scanning - What To Look Out For When Using a Bulk Photo Scanning Service

By Stephen J Wright

So for whatever reason you may have you're looking at outsourcing your photographs to be scanned and converted to digital. This could be because your company would like all original photographs scanned and indexed so they can be disposed of to save space, you want to complete a project which requires the photos to be digital, or you would like them converted so they can be used in publications, then outsourcing has probably come to your mind for scanning a larger quantity of photographs.

Most bulk document scanning companies will offer a photo scanning service and you should search for a reputable one of those, but what should you look out for so you don't get bad results or worse still the original photos become damaged or ruined?

There are a number of things you can do to try to avoid this, some common sense and we also offer some tips and advice for you to try out too.

When you contact the company, which I would do by phone to get a better feel for who you're going to be dealing with, ask questions about the service such as 'What quality do you scan at?' 'Would you recommend my photos be scanned in colour or black and white?' 'How long will the process take?' and 'What does the photo scanning process involve?'. If they give you detailed answers to these questions and even a little more information about it a little further away from your question, this is always a good sign that the person there knows what they're talking about. In the instance of the colour or black and white question, they should also offer you greyscale as a further option, which is a higher quality version of a black and white image for example.

Also, ask the company about their accreditation. Certification such as the ISO 9001:2000 are always a good sign as this means that their work is evaluated by a third party to ensure quality, but if they have qualifications further along than this, it's a good sign, but make sure to check them out to ensure that they aren't simply trying to make themselves look more impressive. If they lie about something like this, it's more than likely they don't have a very good sense of business.

Another tip is to visit the place where the work is done if possible so you can witness for yourself the process going on. Don't think that this is rude or too forward; they should welcome you with open arms if they are a reputable company who are confident in what they do.

Possibly most important of all is getting a small sample of work completed for you. Again the company should be happy to assist with this and scan and index the files for you, which shouldn't take long at all. If this take more than a few days to complete then it's not exactly professional. You could argue that they are very busy, but if they can't complete a couple of photos for you as examples with the possibility of more work, then they aren't worth bothering to pursue.

When you receive the files back, check them for their image quality, colour and make sure they aren't grainy. Obviously if the original image is grainy or distorted in any way, there is nothing that the company can do about that, but have a really good look at the quality of the scans by viewing the high quality images at 100% in your image viewer software.

That might sound like a lot to keep your eye out for, but it's definitely worth it if you are planning on having a bulk photo scanning service done. As we always say, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Steve Wright is marketing manager for Pearl Scan Solutions, a document scanning and photo scanning company based in the UK. We have been in business for nearly a decade now and have completed work for the likes of the NHS, Sky TV and the BBC and our photo scanning service is second to none with the most up to date and high quality scanners in use.

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