The inspiring story of how a little boy’s question sparked a photo scanning app with millions of downloads
Dad, where are your old photos?
On a warm summer afternoon, a 6 year-old boy in Tel Aviv, Israel asked his father, “Dad, I’d like to see what you looked like as a kid. Can you show me some pictures?” At once Yair was filled with nostalgia, but also dread. Although he knew old photos of him existed somewhere, he had no idea where they were or what state they were in. And that exchange between a father and his son became the inspiring story of how a little boy’s question sparked a photo scanning app with millions of downloads. Read on to hear how the story goes.
“I called my parents and asked them if they had old family albums stored somewhere. My dad told me they were kept in a cardboard box in their attic, and that I should stop by their house to climb up there and take a look.”
Sound familiar? Many families end up cramming their old photos into boxes and bins. Sifting through thousands of old, analog photos seems overwhelming, so families find themselves pushing family history projects to the back burner. And that’s where they sit…for years and years.
Sure enough, the next weekend Yair climbed up into his parents’ attic and opened the dusty cardboard box. Immediately, memories came flooding back. Yair recalls his experience seeing the piles of photos for the first time:
The box contained hundreds of old photos in random piles, and a number of rickety photo albums that were all in terrible condition. Some old photos were damaged beyond repair. These were my and the family’s most important memories and stories, and they were just shy of being lost forever.
According to Yair, this is the moment when he realized he wasn’t alone. Something in his gut told him that millions of families faced a similar problem: their priceless photos were deteriorating and disorganized. He was convinced that he had to do something to solve this nearly-universal problem.
“I knew I couldn’t possibly be the only person in the world worried about losing precious and, sadly, perishable family photo memories. This was followed by yet a more pressing thought – what’s the best way to preserve these old, deteriorating photos forever?”
That’s when Yair called his best friend and former Google Product Manager, Nir Tzemah, to brainstorm an idea. Together, they could start a company that would help people all over the world preserve their old photos and the memories they encapsulate. It was a vision for an app that could take the stress and anxiety out of digitizing analog photos. After all, who doesn’t feel a mixture of nostalgia and anxiety when they open up a box containing hundreds of old family photos?
“I experienced the exact same thing with my own kids,” Nir told Yair. At that moment, the two friends agreed that physical family photographs are the only hard-copy of one’s family history’s priceless assets. And they needed some serious help. In just a matter of hours, Yair’s idea turned into a mission.
In an age of smartphones and unprecedented access to information, most people feel inundated with trivial food or selfie photos. That’s exactly why it’s easy to overlook the huge gap between what photos signified 30 years ago, and how little photos are valued today. Plus, there’s the actual rate of photo-taking. Just a few short years ago, consumers captured more than one trillion digital photos.
“Anyone born before 1990 knows that in the past, photographs signified a special moment caught in time; an important family event or celebration, a rare family trip that would never be repeated, the sporadic visual documentations of kids becoming grownups, and family history’s evolution over time,” Yair explains.
Motivated by their new photo preservation mission, Yair and Nir teamed up with two additional founders and friends. Together with Omer Shoor and Natalie Verter, the team set out to turn their vision into a viable, tangible product. “Our main goal was to offer the most efficient photograph preservation (or photo digitization) solution that was simple, easy and affordable. We believe saving old family photos and the stories behind them is a basic need all people worldwide share.”
That’s how the concept of a photo scanning app was born. The team founded Photomyne in February, 2015 and in July of that same year, the first version of Photomyne’s scanning app was live on the App Store. Two years, 2.5 million downloads, and 37 million scans later, Photomyne is one of the top rated apps on the App Store. Today the app is packed with memory preservation features, and allows you to scan an entire photo album within minutes.
“Once we started getting positive feedback from our users on how the app helped them save their family memories, we moved forward with beefing up the app’s scanning algorithm and features. The Photomyne app is now available in eleven languages, and includes a smart scanning component that automatically detects multiple photos in a single shot. It then auto-crops, enhances and saves them into individual photos within a digital album in the app. In addition, the Photomyne app’s latest update (June 2017) includes the option to invite friends and family to view a live Photomyne album in the app, right on their phone, too.
Fast-forward to today. Currently, Photomyne is a startup with a team of talented professionals all dedicated to helping people worldwide preserve their photo memories. And Yair’s passion speaks volumes: “our hearts are filled with joy to know we’re solving a problem millions of people are facing. I’m also happy to have all the most important photos of my childhood right here on my phone. My kid Ohad has seen them all now, and knows all the stories they tell.”
About the Author: Yair Segalovitz is one of the four founders of Photomyne, an app that is committed to offering a comprehensive solution for scanning one’s entire printed photo collection that is simple, quick and cost-effective. Based in Tel Aviv, the Photomyne team is always eager to hear from users from around the globe who are using the app to preserve their family memories. You can discover more about the team and their vision for preservation here and here. And of course, you can grab the Photomyne scanner app on the App Store and Google Play for free.