Old photos, negatives and slides … we’ve all got them hiding somewhere in dark, damp, dusty places around the house. They slip out of albums, get lost at the bottom of drawers and overflow shoeboxes. It’s hard to find the ones you want, harder still to share them with others. And worst of all, you’ve probably long given up trying.
We know they hold cherished memories and we really should sort them out one day, but who has the time? Or the technical expertise? Well, the answer to both those questions is Michael Gilbert and Linda-Roxy Simpson.
Six months ago the Nelson couple launched Scan4U, a business that will take all your piles of photographic paraphernalia, create digital copies using the latest state-of-the-art scanners, and return everything on a tiny, highly portable USB stick or, if you prefer, a DVD.
In addition, they back up every image in the ‘cloud’ meaning they can all be reproduced if original material and copies are lost in a fire, flood or other disaster. That extra protection for precious, irreplaceable family treasures is something Top- of- the-South residents will especially appreciate after the devastation of last summer’s wildfires.
And that’s not all. During the scanning process, Michael and Roxy clean and restore faded, scratched, dirty or damaged images, and otherwise enhance the overall picture quality. With the client’s help they will also sort photos into easily managed categories, for instance by topic, date or place.
The care taken with clients’ photos is obvious from the day they arrive. Michael and Roxy video the boxes as they are opened, count the contents and send or email a receipt. From then on, the photos are handled only with lint-free gloves in a modern, clean and tidy environment, free from dust and liquids.
Once scanning is complete – usually within five business days – the photos are returned by tracked courier. In some cases people don’t actually want their originals back. “They may be downsizing,” says Michael. “Some much prefer a USB stick to boxes of old photos.”
Browsing through digitised old photos becomes a simple pleasure, while sharing copies with the kids or friends is as easy as uploading images to Dropbox, Facebook or other social media, or attaching them to an email and hitting ‘send’.
“For me, scanning is a wonderful way to contribute to people’s lives by preserving their family history,” says Roxy, a trained teacher. “We have a lot of delighted customers who are blown away by the results. This makes it very rewarding to see their joy when we have been able to rescue a precious photo of a loved one.”
Michael, who worked as a lawyer for 30 years, most of that time in Nelson, says the response since the business started has been fantastic. “Every client has been very pleased with the results and some have scanned 5000-plus images! Our scans have been sent as far afield as England.”
He’s not at all surprised that people, especially as they grow older, want a record of what they’ve done and achieved in their lifetime, thinking about what they’re going to hand on and how they’re going to share it. “And that’s what a photograph is: it’s a record of that period of time in your life. Every picture tells a story.”