Scanning a whole lot things is nowhere as easy as I always think it should be. Scanning one thing isn’t too much of a strain so I always think that scanning many things shouldn’t be too difficult. Wrong. It is difficult. Many years ago I scanned all of my film snapshots into my computer. I bought a dedicated film scanner and spent about a hundred hours scanning in thousands of photos. That was probably about the year 2005 and I’m glad I got it done. I’ve been using those photos for things and posting them on social media for years now. It was a lot of work but time well spent.

Cut to just a few weeks ago and my sister was asking me about film scanners. She wanted to scan in some of her old film snapshots. I said I’d leand her mine since it’s not something I use everyday plus I’ve got a backup non-dedicated film scanner that can do the job for me if I need it. I couldn’t locate all the parts and wires I’d need to give her right at that moment so it would be a few weeks until I could bring her the scanner. It was yesterday that I finally got everything unhooked from my machine and in one place. But then I decided to plug it in to make sure it was working. After all I had’t used it in a while.

I have a couple of binders that I keep my negatives in. They’re all in three ring archival plastic sleeves on a shelf. I knew I had one binder that had some negatives in it that I had never scanned in before. Odd and ends sort of stuff. I scanned in all my negatives that had people in them back in 2005 and the ones left were the stuff I didn’t care about as much and didn’t have the energy to scan in a decade ago. I thought there were a few sleeves worth of stuff in there that I could scan in now to make sure the scanner was in working order. An hour of my time at most. Boy was I wrong.

Turns out I had a lot of stuff in that binder. Stuff I wasn’t interested in ten years ago but I wanted to scan in now. First off there were a lot of my early street photos of NYC. I hadn’t done a ton of street photography in film but that is when I started doing it. I can see why I didn’t scan them in back them but they’re more interesting to me now. I think I can make something of the since I have a lot more experience with street photography now. Plus it’s fun to see some stuff from the 90s. Most of my street photos were made after I went digital in 2000.

The next cool thing I had was some multiple picture panoramas of some of my friends NYC apartments. Since even back then I was making my large cut together photo collages I would sometimes take panoramic pictures of places. There was no photo software in those days to automatically stitch the pieces together into one large photo so I never bothered to scan those ones in. In 2005 I’d have to put them all together in Photoshop myself and I had no interest. Nowadays Photoshop can do that automatically and so can a new (and cheaper) program called Affinity Photo. I think it even does that particular thing better than Photoshop. I tried it out on some apartment pictures and it worked well.

I also had a lot of old reference shots and assignments from back in my early college days. The mid 1980s. I had already scanned in the ones that had people in them so these were the less interesting ones. Still a few of them had potential so I just scanned them all in. That was easier than trying to figure out which ones were which. Maybe I can make something out of one or two of them.

The last category of photos is my still lifes. For a while there in the mid 1990s I was collecting little nicknacks and arranging them to make still life photos out of. That is where my dice collection started. I made a couple of cool photos this way but I found it very restraining. Since I was depending on your basic commercial photo lab to process my film and prints I mostly ended up with kinda lifeless little four by six inch prints. I had a couple of them printed larger and used some of them in my collages but they really went nowhere. They look much better on a big computer screen.

There really is one more category of unscanned photos and that is the miscellaneous category. I don’t know what they are. Odds and ends, whims, flukes, and whatever else. Back in the old days of film it was common to just snap a few photos to use up a roll of film so you could have it developed. I had a bunch of those in the sleeves. May as well scan them in now.

All totaled I ended up scanning in about six hundred photos. That is a lot. The scanner does most of the work but I have to pull a negative strip from the sleeve, put the strip in the holder, put the holder in the scanner, hit the scan button, and then wait five to seven minutes and repeat. About 175 times. I was doing things during the wait. That’s when I was making the panoramas, doing some inking, and even writing this. But all told it took about twelve hours. That’s a lot of hours of scanning. I’m tired now. I’m glad I got it done but is it ever a pain.

One more thing about scanning. Get organized. The only way I know these negatives have not been scanned is that over the years I’ve written “Scanned” on the negative sleeves after I’m done scanning them. I even wrote “Scanned bottom three” on some of them. That really helped. Now they all have “Scanned” on them.