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Posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

New Ann Arbor business launches preservation service for photos, home videos

By Katrease Stafford


Priceless Photo Preservation founders (l-r) Rob Hoffman, Hanna Stelman and Eric Hansen are offering to pick up photos from individuals and preserve them.

Joseph Tobianski |

(See related story: Rare home video shows footage of Michigan football game from 1930s)

Digitizing images and preserving historical artifacts are just a couple of the services the newly launched Ann Arbor-based company Priceless Photo Preservation plans to offer its customers, the founder says.

"We all have photos and old movies, and in some cases they’re not being taken care of that well,” CEO and founder Rob Hoffman said. “Right now, people don’t have a way to ensure that these photos survive. Priceless Photo Preservation can help in this area. We digitize photos to preserve them.”

In addition to preserving photos, the company offers appraisal services, recommendations on how to preserve historical artifacts and preservation of old videos.

After working for the Ann Arbor News for nine years as a reporter, Hoffman decided to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan. While studying, he became interested in preserving historical memorabilia.

“I became fascinated with new technologies that allowed people to have access to archival images,” Hoffman said.

The company’s official launch has been a slow process over the past three months. During that time, Hoffman and his partners Eric Hansen and Hanna Stelman have done a lot of work for friends, family members and individuals at U-M. Hoffman said they hoped to capitalize on the holiday season.

“We have to make ourselves available,” he said. “We consider this a year-round gift for anniversaries or whatever you can think of. People really respond to gifts that are personal that requires a lot of thought and effort. I think what’s wonderful about this is that particularly with your slides or negatives that haven’t been seen in years, you come across a photo that is so beautiful and so stunning.”

Hoffman said his company is unlike “mega-chain stores” such as Meijer because it offers pick-up and drop-off services to customers.

“If we come to their home or they want to meet somewhere, they feel secure that their materials aren’t being shipped out in a box somewhere,” he said. “They can feel as if we’re taking care of their possessions.”

If a customer lives in a “Zone One” area— Ann Arbor, Dexter, Saline, Chelsea and other close areas— there is no extra charge for the service. For those living in a Zone Two or Zone Three area such as Detroit or Lansing, there may be an extra fee.

“It’s a little bit extra but it also has to do with the size of the package,” Hoffman said. “If you’ve got 3,000 slides that need to be scanned, we’ll probably say that’s enough of a job to waive the fee. We just wanted to make sure people realized that the zones create a graduated system. What we want to do is be up-front to customers. We are flexible; we are not going to impose anything that’s unfair.”

Pricing for services provided can range from something relatively low to a more high-end price, but the goal is to keep costs at an affordable rate, Hoffman said.

“We purposely did not put prices up on our website,” he said. “We want to know what the customer wants. We’re going to hold the prices down as much as we can.”

One of the reasons why the company can afford to keep costs down is because it is not located in a physical building yet.

“That alone keeps our overhead costs down,” Hoffman said. “We do a lot of scanning at home or various locations around town. That’s one reason we can charge less and be competitive in this market.”

Although Hoffman expects to see a wide range of individuals utilizing his services, he said his primary customer base will be 40 to 60-year-olds.

“These are the people that are taking digital pictures of whatever’s in their life,” he said. “But in their closets, they’ve got these huge collections of photos that they would really like to preserve.”

Hoffman believes the business of photo preservation will boom because of the demand.

“This has to do with the period we’re in,” he said. “We’re in a great transitional period where people have gone completely digital but they still have this huge collection of analog stuff that hasn’t got to the point where it’s deteriorated. People say, ‘I want to do something with it.’”

“I think we’re already seeing this with the proliferation of internet companies,” Hoffman said.

“This is the kind of thing going on that technology permits us to do. We are at a digital analog crossroads. We deliver what we promise. We’re professionals committed to that. We offer quick turnaround and we absolutely offer security and knowledge that your most precious materials are being taken care of with the utmost care.”


Kai Petainen

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

what's wrong with talking about a local business? seems like a neat news story to me. and i don't care if someone there was linked to the only time i care about that link, deals with political endorsements -- thats when it is important to say... 'such and such also works at city hall/SPARK/etc'

Ron Granger

Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:49 p.m.

@Justin, regularly does features on new and existing local businesses. They disclosed the former business relationship. So I don't see the issue, AT ALL. I looked for a couple minutes and couldn't even find a website for "ScanByMe". They appear to be incorporated in Ohio. It doesn't appear to be an actual business. There is a huge difference between sending your film off and having it done locally. A lot of scanning is now done in India. For me, and many others, it just isn't worth the risk. Though there is always risk, regardless of where it goes. There is even risk when you scan your own film. Scanning film, especially good scanning, is a lot of work and it takes real skill and practice. Good scanners are very expensive and they are becoming rare. Many of the best scanners are no longer manufactured. Digital is great for some things, but film still rules. Especially large film.


Thu, Dec 8, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

It seems like Rob used his connections at to promote his new business. This type of business has been around for a long time. The best one in Ann Arbor is called ScanByMe.