Options to Consider When You Need to Copy Pictures

Copying pictures becomes a hassle when you no longer have the negative available. The good news is that modern technology makes it possible to get a good, quality copy of your picture, even without the negative. If you need to copy pictures for friends or family members, keep these facts in mind.


Copying Copyrighted Pictures Is Illegal

If the picture was taken by a professional photographer, such as a portrait done at a photo studio, paying someone to make a copy of it is illegal. That image is copyrighted to the original photographer. If you take the image to a photo studio to have it copied, they should deny you your request. If they do not, they are breaking copyright laws.


There are a few exceptions to this rule. If the photographer is no longer available to contact, you may be able to sign a waiver to have the picture copied. Some photo studios will only hold copyright rights for a set period of time. If you contact them and explain your need for the image, they may sign a copyright release. Some professional photographers will sell the copyright release to their images for a set fee, giving you permission to make copies. However, without this release, you cannot make copies of professional images.


Scanning Kiosks

Most retail photo labs have scanning kiosks that you can use to scan your image and have the picture printed off in seconds. This is an option to consider if you need a quick copy of a picture. However, it is not the best option. First, the scanners, while they are high quality scanners, sometimes have dirt or fingerprints on them since they are open to the public. This gets scanned on to your printed image. Second, these pictures do not go through the chemical developing process, which means they often end up fading faster than a traditional photograph.


Scanning at Home

Another option for making a copy of that picture is scanning it at home. You can use a flatbed scanner, printer, and photo paper to make a fairly decent copy of the image. However, your scanner is not going to capture the picture as clearly as you might want. Also, like scanning kiosks, your home printer cannot make a real photograph. The print you make at home will fade faster than an actual photograph.


Scanning Services

Another way to copy pictures is to send them to a scanning service. These companies have high-resolution photo scanners that can scan the image, convert it into a digital file, and then either print a copy or burn a CD. With the CD, you can visit your local photo lab, upload the picture to their system, and have a real photograph printed. You can also email copies of the picture to others because you will have a digital version of it.

Some photo labs also have this service. They have high-resolution scanners they use to scan your image and then print an actual photograph from it. This is basically the same process, but in most cases having it done at the lab rather than through a scanning service is more expensive. The best option is to use the scanning service to get a digital file made of the picture, and then printing a copy of the picture from that file at the lab of your choice.