The Last Word: It Is Not a Pretty Picture, but It Should...

The Last Word: It Is Not a Pretty Picture, but It Should Be—It Must Be


We all went through a typhoon-like ordeal when film transitioned to digital. Creativity and reinvention revitalized the photography industry and spared many. Every photographer and everyone with decades of still-analog snapshots understand the effects from today’s all-digital world. It is not a pretty picture.

Mitch Goldstone

It is not just the metaphoric technological storm that threatened the business of pictures but real ones, too. Wildfires and hurricanes destroy billions of photographs. Just the storm surges in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence damaged 150,000 homes. With the average accumulation of 5,500 still-analog photographs per household, that represents nearly one billion irreplaceable photographs destroyed—lost forever. If only everyone planned ahead.

With the advent of digital partly mitigated the “three-Ps” adage (people, pets and pictures). Nobody needs to ever rush into a home threatened by a natural disaster to rescue photo albums if those nostalgic memories are backed up, uploaded and secured off-site.

The race to digitize is on. Yet, along the way there were missteps. Navigating the learning curve was a long road with many obstacles. The good news is the business of photography boasts so many new players, products and services. Just look each January at Las Vegas. CES – The Global Stage for Innovation bustles with beyond-imaginative new ways to celebrate photography. Thanks also to online photo-sharing sites and social media platforms, the luster of the golden age of pictures never sparkled brighter.

Throughout the transition, competition was not just robust but inspirational. In the case of photo digitization—where there are trillions of still-analog photographs to scan—the market is vast, healthy and thriving. While competition helps raise the tide of awareness for scanning pictures, it also has a dark side.

For nearly three decades, as a leader in and a student of the photo-imaging industry, I have seen it all. Of grave concern is a new storm cloud on the horizon. The biggest threat since film transitioned to digital just happened. Moreover, it eclipses anything I have experienced.

The problem: When a company re-brands to conceal their overwhelmingly negative reviews, it affects all of us. I won’t publicly call out the company engaged in the questionable business practices, because there are other people being more vocal. My message is to apply due diligence before trusting anyone to digitize irreplaceable photos. Consumers must research before sending pictures to be digitized.

To paraphrase some political advice: “When they go low . . .” I urge you to respond by researching each company first. For businesses, study your core competency. What is your “sizzle?” How are you innovating and creating a game-changing experience?

Everyone has a unique selling proposition. At, it was always speedy-fast professional scanning. That was what sparked David Pogue’s Your Photos, Off the Shelf at Last review on The popular technology writer and TV science presenter put photo scanning on the map. With each subsequent news profile, more people preserved their nostalgic photo memories.s

When they go low, fights back with innovations. Just this week, in a world where everything is instant, it was a natural progression to follow the trend. That is why just launched same-day photo scanning with instant uploading.

It Must Be a Pretty Picture

Epilogue: With many trusted photo digitization services available, why send your pictures to a scanning service that may take months to complete? Use a smartphone app? Spend hundreds of dollars on a DIY scanner before your first picture is digitized? Or as was reported by ABC, NBC and CBS’s investigative consumer reporters, and posted on top review sites, why risk never getting your pictures back?

No wonder that photo-scanning company may be seeking to re-brand yet again. It reminds me of a scene from the film Casino; Robert De Niro’s character could not get a casino license. So he repeatedly changed his title to distract from the fact it was the same guy applying each time.

Mitch Goldstone is the president and chief executive officer of Goldstone cofounded the e-commerce photo digitization service in 1990, which was originally named 30 Minutes Photos Etc.