When I build my time machine, I am going to travel back to meet my teenage self and, after presenting him with a 1985-2005 Sports Almanac, I will order him to take more photographs. He might think I'm a bit loony; after all, he thinks he takes plenty of pictures as it is, and film and developing ain't cheap.
(Objectively, I can't say I've been a photography slacker: between getting my first 35mm camera for Christmas 1987 and getting my first digital camera for Christmas 2004, I had built up quite a considerable photo collection; I've estimated it to be about 8,000 pictures in those 17 years. But considering that I've taken about 8,000 digital photographs in the subsequent 3 years, I'm fine with subjectively calling my younger self a slacker.)
So I'll insist: four photos at my friend's prom just isn't enough, not twenty years later. What of the after-party? Nothing. Breakfast on the beach? Zip. Friends' graduation parties? Nada. And that's just one week of one year back in 1988. The photo opportunities I've missed overall can fill many bookshelves' worth of albums.
Back to the present.... Ever since joining (and being completely sucked into) Flickr, I had been wishing for a way to easily digitize those thousands of photos hidden away in my house, thus having my entire collection sorted and organized and backed up in one safe place. I thought about scanning all my photos one-by-one, but that would have been time-consuming. I thought about buying a negative scanner - scans from negatives give much better quality than scans from prints - but that would have been even more time-consuming. I thought about finding a service online that would do the work for me, but everywhere I looked was charging about $1.50 to $2.00 a picture - fine for a few important shots, not so fine for archiving a couple thousand.
So I was stuck - until a friend of mine told me about ScanCafe. Send them your negatives or color slides, wait about 8 to 10 weeks, and they'll send you back a disk full of high-resolution digital scans (along with your original negatives and slides). Opening the box was like Christmas all over again. And the best part is that they charge only 19 cents a scan. It's ten shades of awesome. Anyone with old photos moldering away in boxes and albums owes it to themselves to give ScanCafe a try. (I probably sound like a commercial, but really, I'm not a paid actor.)
Thanks to them, I now have all my photos (well, all the ones I could find the negatives to) from 1988 through 1991 digitized: 1,521 photos, which I hope to have uploaded to Flickr soon enough (check this link often to see my progress). And of course I'll soon be sending away a few more years' worth of negatives...