how to “scan” memorabilia

Through our various moves, I found myself continuously forced to down size in order to fit into smaller spaces. One thing that I struggled with was childhood memorabilia- it was taking up valuable storage space, but if I was being honest, it wasn’t valuable enough to me to display or frequently look through the storage box.

What I decided to do with many of these items, was PHOTOGRAPH them and then throw them away. The digital copy of the item or memory was sufficient for me and allowed me to say goodbye without guilt. The SPACE those items were taking up was more valuable than the ITEM itself. (Just call me Marie Kondo).

how to scan memorabilia

For memorabilia that won’t fit on a flatbed scanner, I ‘scan’ them by taking a photograph with my camera. I have the most success using natural light (see below for my setup) and a plain piece of white posterboard as the background.  I set the posterboard on the floor, next to a large window or door and take the photo from above.

My favorite part about photographing memorabilia is that usually I feel comfortable throwing the items away after I’ve captured a digital copy. 

If you inherit items that you’re not sure what to do with… you feel too guilty to throw them away, but if you’re being honest you don’t want to keep them… consider photographing it and then donate/toss.  (It’s not for everyone, but it works for me!)

Another tip:  if you’re unhappy with your results when photographing in natural light, you can purchase a light box from Amazon.  It’s a little ‘photo studio’ with built-in lighting that will make photographing your memorabilia super easy (but it’s a bit of an investment).

1 comment
  • Alexis

    I recently created a “school” album for my daughter with almost 9 years of school papers/art/crafts etc. and photographed all the 3D pieces. I used these same techniques and loved the results (though I wish I had seen your editing tips for Color Story sooner. It would have saved me so much time to save the edits and apply to all the pieces.). The other reason to go through this process that is worth mentioning is that many kid art pieces are made on the cheapest construction and ditto paper that does not last over time. I was sad to pull out my daughters art from nursery school that I had lovingly saved and lugged across the country only to find it was totally faded or discolored and ripped, crumpled, or disintegrated because of the materials her school/daycare had used. I wish I had photographed and scanned things sooner, even if I hadn’t made the album until years later. I was able to edit the photos to get the vibrancy back in some cases but can’t make them look less damaged in the photos. It made me so glad I was taking care to document her current pieces now so that nothing is lost. I am loving your series this year Casey! Thank you for all the great content!!!ReplyCancel

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Miss Freddy is a Professional Photo Organizer, serving clients worldwide. Learn more about my services.