The Mail – Getting Your Photos from Here to There … and Back

How do I organize and pack my photos?

First, you’ll need one or more Ziploc® bags, one box large enough to hold all of your photos, and your photos of course. The box should be able to withstand normal handling of mail and packages. New boxes are always preferred. We do not recommend used boxes that are flimsy or worn. You can often get boxes at your mail carrier.

You need to put all of your photos in Ziploc® bags. Then put the bags of photos in the box.

If there is extra room in the box, we recommend either a smaller box or adding filler (i.e. Styrofoam™, packing bubbles, crumpled up paper) to fill the space so that your photos are not getting tossed about with normal mail handling.

We also strongly recommend a tracking number when mailing your photos. Your photos are irreplaceable, which is why you are having us scan them, so it makes sense to track them. We always obtain a tracking number when we mail your photos back to you.

Finally, if you ordered a package that includes scanning your photos in order, then you need to make sure the photos are in the order you want in each Ziploc® bag. If you are sending more than one Ziploc® bag, then please number each Ziploc® bag so that we know what order to scan your photos.

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Can I drop off my photos?

Absolutely! We have two drop off locations to serve our customers in the Madison, WI and metropolitan Chicago, IL areas. Our metropolitan Chicago drop off location is in Morton Grove just 16 miles north of downtown Chicago. For some of you, one of these two locations may be just a short drive away. For others, it may be more convenient to mail your photos. If mailing your photos, please send all photos to the Madison, WI location.

Wisconsin. You can mail or drop off your box of photos at our partner Madison Wisconsin UPS Store at
2858 University Avenue, #386, Madison, WI 53705.
Their phone number is (608) 819-8415.
Hours are 8:30am-7pm Monday-Friday and 9am-3pm Saturday.

Illinois. You can drop off your box of photos at our partner Morton Grove UPS Store at
6321 W. Dempster St., #134, Morton Grove, IL 60053.
Their phone number is (847) 581-2870.
Hours are 8:30am-7pm Monday-Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday.

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Can I pick up my order?

Absolutely. Regardless of how you get your photos to us, you can always choose to pick up your order at one of our partner UPS Store locations in either Madison, Wisconsin or Morton Grove, Illinois. You will be given this option before you submit your order. But if you change your mind, not a worry, just contact us, and we can change the method of delivery. Easy.

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Are my original photos returned to me?

Yes, unless you specifically tell us otherwise. We return your photos to you in the same package as your order.

At check-out, if you will not want your photos returned to you because they will continue to take up needed space in your home or for any other reasons, simply let us know in the “Order Notes” section on the Checkout page. We will still hold on to your photos for 60-days in case you are not fully satisfied with your order and we need to re-do any part or the entirety of your order. Remember, your satisfaction is our guarantee! If you have opted not to have your photos returned to you, we will securely discard of your photos after 60 days.

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I have stacks of photo albums. Do I need to remove all the photos or can I send you all my albums?

We prefer you remove all photos before sending them to us. But, if you are pressed for time, and it would be easier for you to send us your albums, we can accommodate most requests. Please note that there will be additional charges for any of: removing photos, scanning affixed photos, replacing the photos back into the album, and/or shipping the album(s) back to you. Please contact us by phone, 888-863-5940, or via our online contact form, and we will be sure to get back with you to discuss your scanning needs.

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Has an order ever been lost in the mail?

No. None of our customers’ packages have ever been lost in the mail. These are your photos, and sometimes your only hard copy of a particular memory. So, we share your concern about the security of your photos. The risk of loss or damage in transit is small. To mitigate against this small risk, we always recommend customers send packages to us using a tracking number and use a recognized well established shipping or delivery company (i.e. USPS, UPS, Fedex, DHL). When we return a shipment, we always use a tracking number and one of these trusted carriers.

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Do you backup photos in case the copies are lost in the mail?

We do keep copies of all digital images for 90 days as an added backup. Please contact us if you need backup copies.

We cannot be responsible for any losses by mail. For this reason, we strongly recommend you use a reliable service that includes a tracking number and/or confirmation of delivery.

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What happens if my order is delayed during mailing and what about guarantees?

We cannot be responsible for any losses or delays by mail. For this reason, we strongly recommend you use a reliable mail carrier service that includes a tracking number and/or confirmation of delivery.

However, please note, understand and recognize that by mailing us any items, we cannot and do not warrantee or guarantee delivery by third-party couriers. In the unlikely event that your order is misplaced, delayed, lost or damaged, you agree that our company is not liable and there will be no compensation or payment of any kind. We assume no responsibility for any loss and/or damage to client’s materials while it is transported by the mail, courier or transport companies, nor any liability, for damage, loss, delay or irregularity to person or property in connection with any service advertised herein or by services provided by third parties over which our Company, or the employees at our Company, has no control.

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How do I track my photo shipment?

We will always return your photos to you with a tracking number. You will receive a confirmation email that your order has shipped and will include the mail carrier and tracking number. Simply go to their website, also included in the email, and input your tracking number there. We absolutely advise that you send your photos to us by way of a reliable mail carrier and get a tracking number. Only in this way will you know exactly where your photos are at every step in the process.

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Should I insure my photos?

Your photos have sentimental value, so it is difficult if not impossible to put a price tag on your photos and likewise how much to insure them. When you ship a package, you usually have the option to insure it – and your photos are no different.

Regardless of whether you choose to insure your photos, we always recommend customers send packages to us using a tracking number and use a recognized well established shipping or delivery company (i.e. USPS, UPS, Fedex, DHL). When we return a shipment, we always use a tracking number and one of these trusted carriers.

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The Process – What’s happening over there?

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Where are my photos scanned?

You may have photos that were taken from all over the globe, but your photos will stay right here on domestic soil. All orders are scanned and fulfilled in the US. Your photos are never shipped overseas. This is one reason why we are able to provide such a fast turnaround time!

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How long will it take to complete my scanning order?

That depends. Choose an a la carte package and your order will be processed and completed within 3 business days of receipt on our end. Guaranteed!

Packages that include a video slideshow make take a little longer, but generally can be processed within a week’s time. The time it takes to complete an order also depends on the number of upgrades – the fancier you get, the more time we need!

We offer the fastest turnaround time in the industry – and we do so without sacrificing qualify.

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Will the photos be scanned in the order I sent them?

One of the choices when ordering a scanning package from us is whether you want us to scan your photos in the order you send them to us.

Some photos require special scanning needs, so we use different equipment to scan and process these photos. As a result, we separate these photos from the rest. Doing this allows us to process different photos with different scanning needs at the same time, but on different equipment. It also allows us to get your order processed more quickly than if we had to scan each photo in sequence.

Some customers have reasons for wanting their photos kept in a particular order. And for other projects, the scan order is not important. By default, if you are ordering a video slideshow, we scan photos in the order you send them. Although, you can opt for us to show them in random order if that is your preference.

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Will my photos be scanned to a CD or DVD?

Scanning to a CD will suffice for most orders. Larger orders may require more digital space and hence will be scanned to DVD. We always try to get your photos on as few discs as possible. So, for example, if your scanned photos require more than 700MB of space, we will write them to DVD.

All DVD video slideshows are written to DVD.

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Limitations and Copyright – Ugh!

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What size photos can I include in my order?

Photos must have one side that is at least 3″ wide and no larger than 8.5″x 17″.

Please inquire first if you have photos that are smaller or larger than these size constraints. Otherwise, photos that are smaller or larger will be returned to you unscanned.

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Are there any types of pictures that you cannot scan?

Yes. There are only three types of pictures that we cannot scan. Too small. Too big. And pictures protected by copyright.

Photos must have one side that is at least 3″ wide and no larger than 8.5″x 17″.

Copyright laws are extraordinarily stringent and rightfully so. Many professional photographers will now sell packages which include full printing rights or release of copyright. If you can include proof of such printing rights or release of copyright, we will gladly scan your professionally taken photos. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to obtain full printing rights or a copyright release for very old photographs. If you did not personally take the photo, it is imperative you make sure the photo does not have copyright restrictions on it. For light reading on copyright law, visit the US Copyright Office official website.

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Can you scan really old photos?

Age is relative, isn’t it? We can scan any photo. But – if a photo is significantly faded or deteriorated for any reason, you may need to have it professionally restored before having us scan it. Remember, though, not every ‘old’ photo needs to be professionally restored. We strive to preserve the nostalgia you experience while viewing the people and events captured in your photos. We do that by meticulously honoring the hue and tone of the original photograph.

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Scanning – Let’s Talk Pixels

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Can I see samples of scanned images?

Yes, but that won’t give you the information you need to choose a scanning service provider. Why? Simple. The point of reference or comparison is the original photograph itself. Showing you a scanned image doesn’t tell you anything about how it compares to the original photograph. To do that, you would need to compare the scanned image to the original print in hand. So how do you know we are the trusted leader in scanning? You give us a try…for free! Send us up to 10 photos, and let us scan them. Then you can compare what you know to be the original to the scanned image. You be the judge. No time? Then please check out our customer raves! Our best complement is a referral.

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300 or 600 dpi? The story behind dots per inch or dpi.


Well, it’s a long story. So let’s get to the question you are really trying to answer. Do I go with 300 or 600 dpi? You need to decide what you are going to do with these photos after we scan them. Here is a chart to help you decide.

Consider 300 dpi IF you Consider 600 dpi IF you…
  • Are going to make additional prints of equal or smaller size of the original photos
  • Are going to make a photobook with the scanned images
  • Are going to be sharing photos online via personal cloud storage or social media
  • Are loading the scanned photos into a digital frame
  • Are going to make enlarged prints of the scanned photo
  • Are going to make a video slideshow
  • Are going to display photos on a high definition television (HDTV) or projector
  • Are not sure for what use or purpose you may want to use these scanned photos in the future

 

Those are reasons why to choose one or the other. One big reason why not to choose 600 dpi is if you think or are concerned that your original photographs are already grainy or speckled. There are many reasons why an original photograph may appear this way and is more often related to the lighting, the settings of the camera at the time the picture was taken, and the paper it was printed on, so little to do about it now. Needless to say, if your photos look this way, then these may be better scanned at 300 dpi because the grains and speckles will only look worse at 600 dpi.

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I’m actually interested in more detail about dpi.

Okay, so dpi is dots per inch. Bigger is better, right? Well, not always, but sometimes. Okay, here is what this means. At a basic level, DPI is the resolution that an image is scanned. Resolution does not imply quality. And quality is affected by many things, scanning being only one of them. Remember, if the print is out of focus, higher resolution will not make a picture in-focus. For the reasons discussed above, scanning a grainy or speckled photo may look worse at 600 dpi than if scanned at 300 dpi.

The arithmetic. A picture scanned at 300 dpi will have at its best 300 pixels of digital information (i.e. a specific color) for every inch on the original photograph. So a 4 x 6 photograph will have 300 pixels for every inch which equals 300 x 4 (from top to bottom) and 300 x 6 (from side to side). This is 1200 pixels by 1800 pixels. If you multiply the number of pixels from top to bottom by the number of pixels from side to side, you get the resolution, which in this case would be 2.16 Megapixels (or 2.16 MP). This is the equivalent of some common consumer digital point-and-shoot cameras.

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What file format are my scanned photos saved as? JPEG, PNG, TIFF or something else?

JPEG is suitable for most consumer needs and purposes – and is what we save your scanned photos in by default. TIFF files are much larger and are more often used by professionals who have very specific needs for the scanned photos. Other formats such as PNG, PSD, and EPS, like TIFF, are often more than what most customers need for casual use and sharing of photographs. If you need your digital photos in a format other than JPEG, please tell us in the “Order Notes” section on the Checkout page.

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Can an order include photos that are different sizes?

Yes, as long as all the photos are no smaller than 3″x 3″ and no larger than 8.5″x 17″.

If the scanning order of the photos is not important, we recommend putting same size photos together with the largest photos on the bottom of the box and smaller photos on the top – like a pyramid. Then fill the box with sufficient packing material so that the photos don’t shuffle around during transit.

If you are wanting your photos scanned in a particular order, we recommend packing your box in a similar fashion as above, but with special attention to numbering which group of photos goes in which order. Label each group of photos so that when each is taken out of the box it is clear to us which group of photos is scanned first, second, third, and so on.

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What resolution are my photos scanned at?

We scan photos at either 300 dpi or 600 dpi as you specify. 300 dpi is suitable for most uses. 600 dpi is advised for more specific uses. Higher resolution scanning is not always better. Careful consideration of the quality of your original photographs and what you will use the scanned images for will help determine what resolution is best for scanning. See the answer to the frequently asked question, 300 or 600 dpi? The story behind dots per inch or dpi.

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How much memory will photos use?

The scanned file size depends on the size of the original photograph and the resolution at which you want us to scan – 300 versus 600 dpi. File sizes of photos scanned at different resolution are approximated below:

Size of Original Photo Pixels JPEG scanned at 300 dpi JPEG scanned at 600 dpi
3” x 5” 900 x 1500 1.0 MB 4.7 MB
4” x 6” 1200 x 1800 1.5 MB 5.7 MB
5” x 7” 1500 x 2100 2.5 MB 9.5 MB
8” x 10” 2400 x 3000 4.0 MB 19.6 MB

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My Order is Complete – What’s Next?

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Nothing is forever. Are CDs, DVDs, flash media better than my original prints?

Well, it certainly is true that nothing lasts forever. A couple of important points here. First, while the digital data comprising the photos stored on any digital media won’t fade and deteriorate, the media itself is susceptible to physical change and deterioration with improper handling and storage – just like your original photographs. So it is critical to properly store and handle your digital media.

We very much recommend uploading your photos to a personal cloud storage account. Online cloud storage is versatile and allows you to bypass the handling and safekeeping of media in your home.

Second point is this. Remember the days of film and VHS? History has demonstrated that there will always be newer and better digital media, and it is possible and arguably likely that CDs, DVDs, flash media will be replaced by other types of media in the distant or not too distant future… which brings up one final point.

Since digital media is constantly changing, we believe it is important to move your digital photos to more current physical media as they become mainstream – which is one reason you might be considering our photo scanning service today. In recent history, this has occurred every decade or two, but staying current will be less costly than trying to move your stored digital content from a much antiquated media to a more current one.

One of the advantages of online cloud storage is that your cloud storage provider will update the media as needed to protect your photos, music, and other documents. The only thing you will have to keep current with is whether the file formats of your documents are mainstream or not. JPEG, PNG, and TIFF are prevalent now, but what will be in 20? 30? 50 years from now? is anyone’s guess!

Recommended handling and storage of CDs and DVDs

  • Store the disc at room temperature. Avoid extreme heat, high humidity, and direct exposure to sunlight or other sources of UV light.
  • Keep the disc in a protective case
  • Always handle the disc by holding it on the edges. Do not touch the surface of the disc.
  • Clean the disc with a soft cloth made specifically for CDs and/or DVDs. Gently wipe the disc starting from the center of the disc outward toward the edge of the disc. Do not clean in a circular direction around the disc.

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How long does a CD or DVD last?

As always, it depends on many factors. First is the quality of the brand of CD or DVD. We use CDs and DVDs with a rated life of 50+ years. We can’t say what other companies may use, but know that there are certainly low-cost generic media that deteriorate in just a few years.

Second, make sure you properly store and handle the discs. See our recommendations below.

And finally, remember that while the physical media (or disc) may physically withstand the test of time, it is possible and even likely that it will no longer be mainstream as newer and better technologies are developed and used. We recommend periodically moving your digital content to newer forms of media as they become more mainstream. Personal cloud storage easily allows you to move your content to different types of media and is one reason why it is such an attractive option after scanning your photos.

Recommended handling and storage of CDs and DVDs

  • Store the disc at room temperature. Avoid extreme heat, high humidity, and direct exposure to sunlight or other sources of UV light.
  • Keep the disc in a protective case
  • Always handle the disc by holding it on the edges. Do not touch the surface of the disc.
  • Clean the disc with a soft cloth made specifically for CDs and/or DVDs. Gently wipe the disc starting from the center of the disc outward toward the edge of the disc. Do not clean in a circular direction around the disc.

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How large can I print scanned photos?

How large you can and how large you should are two different questions. If you opt to have us scan your photos at 300dpi, you should not enlarge your prints any more than the size of the original photograph. If you opt to have us scan your photos at 600 dpi, you can enlarge your prints up to twice as big as the original photograph without losing significant quality in the printed image.

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Will I be able to edit or modify the scanned photos?

Absolutely! The scanned photos are yours to do with as you like. You can edit, mark-up, crop, add bubble captions, apply photo-editing software graphics and effects; whatever you can think up, you can do.

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Your computer says your files are locked?

Easy fix.

On a PC, simply select all, right-click on any highlighted file and select Properties. In the Attributes, simply make sure the Read-Only box is unchecked.

With a Mac, select all the files and press Command-Option-I. In the Ownership & Permission, change from Read Only, to Read & Write.

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Can I view the CD or DVD of my scanned photographs on my television using my DVD player?

Maybe.

Yes, if you ordered a DVD slideshow. These DVDs are configured to play in your DVD player.

Otherwise, if you only ordered your prints to be scanned to CD or DVD, then these discs may or may not be recognized by your DVD player.

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I've received multiple DVDs or CDs and each disk starts at file 001. When I copy them to the same folder on my hard drive it tells me there is a file name conflict. What should I do?

The easy-not-so-fancy solution. Copy the files of each disc into separate folders on your hard drive.

The more-elegant-moderate-level-of-difficulty solution is to use file renaming software solutions – many of which are freely available on the internet. Go to download.com and search for “file rename” to find over a thousand download results!

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No more questions?

Then get started by choosing a scanning package today!

 


Still have Questions?

Feel free to drop us a note via our online Contact Form!

 

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