Practical Tips for dealing With Family Photos

by Jeannine Bryant

It’s something we hear our clients struggling with all the time – What do I do with all of these photos?!  They are in a panic, because the sheer amount of photos they have seems overwhelming, and yet getting rid of photos seems heartless, almost cruel.  And so in this instance, we come back to the message we preach over and over again with the rightsizing process – keep the best, get rid of the rest!

Step 1:  Weed through what you’ve got

  • When sorting through photos, remember that you don’t need to keep (or preserve) them all! Toss out doubles, scenery shots from past vacations, and photos with people who you cannot name.  You can also toss out any unflattering photos of you or your loved ones!  Here’s your chance to touch up history!
  • Ask yourself: how many photos do I need of one particular event (i.e. your sister’s baby shower)?  For instance, when my kids build a snowman I probably take 5-10 photos.  I only keep the best 2-3.
  • When it comes to keepsake items, ask yourself: Does the item bring back a happy memory, or an unpleasant one?  Keep the happy ones only!

Step 2:  Sort and organize the photos you’ve chosen to keep

  • You can be as broad or as detailed as you like with sorting, but even a bit of sorting will be extremely helpful. Sort first by family (your immediate family/maternal side of your family/paternal side of your family)
  • Sort next by decade (in our family, I sorted photos by decade for the 1950’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s – then made a broad category for anything that looked like it was 1940’s and before).
  • Write a short note – even just a word or two – about the photo, especially the names of the people in the photo.

Step 3:  Digitize (and backup) what’s important

  • Your photos aren’t truly safe until they are digitized, to protect from loss, fire and flood. Once they’re organized, they can easily be shared with family members.
  • Legacy Box – a national company that converts it all:
  • Backup your digital files!
    • provides an easy, no hassle backup service for a monthly fee.