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How to Scan Polaroid Photos by Samantha Stortecky

How to Scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax Photos by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Samantha Stortecky

Hello, everyone! Welcome back! I’m so excited to be here and chatting with you all. Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the questions I get asked the most, how I scan and edit my Polaroid and Fujifilm Instax images.

How to Scan Polaroid and Instax Photos - Learn film photography with these instant photography tips
Scanning Polaroid and Instax Photos - Learn how to shoot film with these instant photography tips
How to Scan Polaroid and Instax Photos - Learn film photography with these instant photography tips
Scanning Polaroid and Instax Photos - Learn how to shoot film with these instant photography tips
Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

It’s quite easy and only takes a few minutes. All you need is a handy dandy scanner and a photo editing app (I use Photoshop). That’s it!

Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

My Scanner

The scanner I typically use is the Canon MG6320 (find on Amazon). It’s an oldy that’s been with me for several years. I also scan on my Epson V600, which is a high quality film and negative scanner (find on Amazon), but, typically, my Canon is my go-to. Any decent flatbed scanner should do the trick, though!

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Tips for Scanning Polaroids

Alright, now before we get into scanning, a couple of tips I should mention:

  1. Make sure your scanner bed is clean by wiping it down with a microfiber cloth. Dust on your images is a no-no. I once scanned in a sunset Instax image without cleaning my scanner bed beforehand, and the dust was such a pain in post process.
  2. Put a dark colored piece of paper behind your Polaroid or Instax when scanning so you don’t lose details in the image border.
  3. Get your Polaroid or Instax as straight as can be on the scanner bed, so you don’t have to rotate it in post process.

These little tips are going to help you get the absolute best results when scanning and save you a bit of work.

Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Scanning

Now, when it comes time to scan, I don’t do anything special. I just scan my images with the auto picture setting my scanner offers. I feel as if my scanner knows what it’s doing and who am I to ask the almighty scanner questions? ^_^

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film
Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Editing Polaroid and Instax Photos in Photoshop

Now that I’ve scanned in my image, I take the image file and pull it into Photoshop. I really try to keep my Polaroids and Instax images as true to the original image as possible, but, sometimes, they lose some detail and color when being scanned, especially if you’re scanning on an older piece of machinery (which I am). (If you need Photoshop, you can find it on Amazon here.)

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Isolating the Polaroid Image for Editing

When my image is in Photoshop, I take the Polygonal Lasso tool and outline the image part of the Polaroid (without the border). Then, I copy and paste just the highlighted image (CTRL + C and CTRL + V for my window users), so I have a layer that is just for the image part of the Polaroid or Instax. This way, all the editing I do will eventually only be on the image and not the border around it.

Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Editing Color, Brightness, and Contrast

Now is when I get to work on fine tuning the image. Every Polaroid and Instax is different. For example, I find that a lot of my Polaroids tend to scan in with more of a green tone whereas my Instax images tend to lose some contrast. Most often, I bump up the brightness, contrast, and a bit of the color tone to get it to look more like how the image looks in real life.

Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Once I’ve done all the editing, I highlight all the editing layers, right click on them and click Create Clipping Mask. This ensures that all the final edits and tweaks are only on the image part and not on the background/border.

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Finishing Touches

Then, I right click once again and click Flatten Image to make it one solid image.

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

And last but certainly not least, I apply a Sharpen Filter to the image to crisp up the entire image. Then, I save it to my computer.

Learn film photography with these tips for scanning Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

And there you have it! Easy peasy lemon squeasy!

I hope this tutorial was helpful and that it inspires you to shoot and share more of your instant film images!

Learn film photography and how to scan Polaroids and Fujifilm Instax photos on Shoot It With Film

Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here. You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her websitebusiness Instagram, or personal Instagram.

Leave your questions about scanning your Polaroid or Instax film photos below in the comments! And if you need some Polaroid or Instax film, you can pick it up on Amazon here: Polaroid Originals Film, Fujifilm Instax Film

Want to learn more about shooting Polaroids and instant film? Check out all of our instant photography articles here!

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