Photomyne, a new app for the archivist in all of us

As the unofficial photo archivist of our extended family I was delighted to hear of a new photo scanning app called Photomyne. I like that they’re trying to solve the problem many of us have: boxes and albums of photos from back when every photo was printed, sometimes even twice (thanks, Costco!) Though we’d like to digitize these collections, the sheer amount of photos is usually a deterrent: this is a time-consuming and tedious task as it used to require scanning photos one-by-one on a flatbed scanner. Using a high-quality phone camera paired with an efficient app is a smart idea. Unfortunately, I can’t try it out yet as it’s iOS only for now but I have a pile of albums just waiting for the Android version.

Photomyne's smooth, intuitive user experience. Source: Photomyne

Photomyne’s smooth, intuitive user experience.
Source: Photomyne

A few comments on what I’ve been able to learn about the app and what I hope the Android release will bring:

  • Being a lover of Google Photos, its amazing search and recognition tools, I’d love to see integration between Photomyne scans and Google once Photomyne comes to Android. Tagging people could become easier as well (they don’t necessarily have to have a Google or Facebook account) and it would be interesting to see how Photos recognizes ancestors.
  • Many older photos and some photo albums have priceless information written on their backside. This needs to be scanned and paired with the front of the photo. It would be amazing to transcribe that often undecipherable handwriting and it would blow me completely away to translate it. This, again, might work better with Google’s capabilities in this area so hopefully that could be added. Also, I’m not sure how much additional tagging, beyond date, album title, and people, Photomyne currently allows but more is always welcome.
  • I love that the categorization of a photo is by year and by season. However, for some older family photos, I do think it can be somewhat challenging to even add a year to some of them and a range of years might be more appropriate.
  • Sharing is currently available via email, Facebook and WhatsApp (which reflects the very high rate of adoption of WhatsApp outside of the US.) I really like the integration into Facebook’s timeline by attaching the right date to the photo, not the date when the photo was scanned. I hope that more sharing will be enabled in the future so that entire families can have access to albums (also a great Google Photos feature, though other photo services provide it as well.)
  • Two lesser worries I have are about quality, though it may be that Photomyne has already solved this (they advise on best practices which help offset these.) The first is resolution. When taking a photo of a page of 4-5 photos in an album, is enough detail gathered for each photo? Maybe the iPhone 6s camera is good enough for this but what happens on Android and lesser iPhones? The second concern is about skewed photo taking. Not all of us are pros at taking a photo directly above a photo and this may result in skewed photos. Hopefully Photomyne’s processing can fix this along with color.

Finally, old family photos are a treasure, but also a ticking time bomb. When the people who can tell the stories behind each moment pass, the photos become less powerful. Yet gathering all the photos, scanning them and tagging them is a tremendously time-intensive and tedious project (it took me 6 months to go through one box I found after my grandmother’s death.)  If Photomyne can automate some of that process and make it faster, families have a chance at documenting their history while they still can.

And that’s priceless.

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