What to Do with 56,982 Photos?

By Ann Shayne
January 10, 2023

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133 Comments
  • Please someone solve this problem and still leave me time to knit, eat, and sleep.

    • For real…

  • when my mother died (8 years ago this week), i as the eldest of the family ended up with boxes of photos from our family and from her parents, aunts and grandparents. we also had some family history documentation.

    during the Covid Lockdown my dear husband, bored out of his skull, set about sorting through the photos and matching them to the names in family tree. fortunately my GreatAunt Nellie had written a lot of names on the back of photos so i didn’t have too many long departed relatives or family farms to identify.

    in the end he created a book with photos and stories using software from SnapFishUK (other similar sites exist all over the world). that book is now in its third edition as various family members have chipped in with clarifications and further details of some of the stories. spurred on by that success he has also created a photo book history of his father’s WWII experiences guarding the Forth Bridge and in the Faroes, his mother’s army service at various radar stations on the south Coast of England and, most recently, the summer week that our Elder GrandDaughter spent with us .

    putting together photos and text is not a quick process but our descendants will have something more tangible than a memory stick to look at!

    • I love that! Thank you!

      • And then there are the photos that you have no idea who these people are, where they are, if they are related or not! I have tons of those And they are all in one big box!

        • I got some of those. My daughter and I spent time poring over them and comparing them to other photos to identify the people. We were successful with some.

        • When my mom passed away my dad kept asking me “who’s this?” Well, dad, since it looks like mom is in high school I’m going to go with I have no clue. Lol! They grew up in the same town and I came along many years later. Too funny. We never did figure it out.

        • We are doing legacy box and sharing broadly with many cousins for help!

        • We had this issue too. I gave my nonidentifiable photos to a thrift store. I had gone through these with my mom before she passed and realized if she didn’t know them they would forever be just another photo with no meaning. I just can’t hang on to that kind if stuff.

      • When my sister moved after 50 years of marriage, she kept 10 photos from each decade. Period.

        • That’s what I’m thinking’.

      • We had 40+ years of family photos scanned onto a cd and gave one to each of our children for Christmas one year. Was well worth the cost to see their surprise and joy at having this.

        • Sandra, how did you do the scanning?

    • Wow, Ella, that is amazing! I have also become the repository of generations of family photos – slides, prints, digital, you name it. The task of organizing it all … even cooking up a scheme for how to begin … leaves me paralyzed. I’ve tried to engage other family members, but they seem to have little interest (although they love to spend a short time looking through the photos), so I’m afraid most of the physical media will end up in a dumpster when it can no longer be stored in my house, and the digital stuff … gosh … who is going to take time to look through that?

      • Consignment stores in our area take old photos. Some historical societies may be interested also. People who do various crafts use old photos sometimes just to copy the images etc. It is worth checking b4 tossing.

      • You exactly described my own challenge. The repository of images, shifted about from basement to living room and back to badement, overwhelms me. My first task is the heavy emotional lifting of determining what responsibility I will choose to accept, knowing that there may be delightful rewards for devoting careful attention. Still…

    • Ella, so cool you all took the trouble to make an actual book. We are starting to realize that, as old-fashioned as paper is, one needs no viewer, no batteries, and no special device (as we toss diskettes, zip disks, and other things that modern devices no longer “read”). I’m sure mini thumb drives will be next as dead things with treasures inside locked away forever. I’m the eldest and I should be doing this!

    • Hi everyone, My name is Donna and I am a professional Photo Management Consultant and I help you get your photos organized and preserved. I help families get their photos and old media out of boxes, off computers and cell phones and into printed photos books and backed-up into online galleries and albums so they are easier to view, share and enjoy now and for future generations. I provide a boutique photo scanning, photo organizing and custom photo book design service that helps families organize, preserve and share their photos, media and memories. My websites are: LegacyPhotosAndStories.com and PhotosSavedForever.com. Reach out to me if you have questions…I’m here to help.

      • Hi Donna, I was going to use Legacy but am afraid to mail my precious photos. I’d appreciate your thoughts! Best, Barb

    • Wow does your hubby make house calls ? Is he for hire ?

  • My husband had all our photos digitized several years ago. We did the same when my dear mother died 6 years ago, with her photos. “OK, says my husband, now lets throw out the photos.” Couldn’t do it. One son was horrified by the thought even though he has the digitized photos. In the words of Marie Kondo: if it gives you joy…….

  • My daughter uses a digital frame that can be set up to play specific photos from her online digital account. The frame can play “albums” such as her wedding, or randomly go through selected pics. Of course, I’ve been meaning to get one…!

    • My daughter and then son each gave me one that they use to upload pictures of my grandchildren. My daughter is frequently overseas for years at a time. I love this photo frame. I myself have boxes of photos of my family and my ancestors. I need to go through and decide which ones I will use for genealogy.

    • This is a great way to see the photos on a regular basis. My husband rigged up an old computer monitor to do this – much cheaper than buying a digital frame – and we have our most loved vacation photos randomly appear on it, all day, from morning to night, on a timer. One of the best ideas he ever had (not as good as marrying me, of course)!

  • Your mom was adorable.

  • Dealing with the photos is on my list of goals for this year. (It was also on the list last year!) It’s overwhelming! Every now and again when I’m bored, I’ll go through the images on my phone and delete them. Never seems to make a dent! Then there are the photograph albums!

  • This is the knitterly witchcraft at work again….I looked at my photo library over the Christmas holidays (dogs, cats, knitting, sewing and so many dance videos of my son!). I’m starting by sorting them into Albums (child 1, dance lesson videos, etc) and then I’m planning a cull. I’ll often take 73 photos to get 1 good one. It’s time to sort, edit, delete. Although I suspect this will need to be a regular occurrence, having added 2 sewing and 3 dog photos to the mix before 10.30am this morning!

    • Culling those 70+ down to 1 or 2 is a great way to start. I do that regularly. You lose nothing, keep everything.

  • I cannot provide assistance, I too have all the pictures of knitting and cats, plus dogs and while lot of peppers and onions for some reason. I am here to tell you I have decided loafers and Bobbie socks need to come back. I am off to Amazon to make it so.

  • My family never really had photos — we had slides. So one would need a projector and something to project upon to view them. There were boxes and boxes and boxes (and boxes) of them. In. November my brother and I trashed them. We knew we would never be able to go through them all and I’m not sure they were in a condition to be viewed, after having been stored in the basement of my parents house (which was another horror story). I do have some photos that my grandmother took, and I have a framed photo collage of my immediate family going back to great grandparents.

    • Oh! I am so sorry you threw them out! I recently purchased a $25 light box in order to convert old slides to digital. Just line up the slides on the light box, then take a photo of each slide you want to retain with your camera phone. It works great! I won’t be saving/converting all the slides (I don’t need all the landscape photos from camping trips), but can pick out the ones with family members in them.

      • Lynn, do you have more info you can share on this light box that you use with your phone? The last time I looked into it (my father has a mountain of slides) you had to also have an expensive scanner to use with an expensive light box. My brother has looked into the services you ship them to for scanning, but reviews seem very mixed.

        • I bought a Kodak Scanza on Amazon a few years back. I had boxes of slides that I wanted to go through & save as pictures. It did a pretty decent job of converting to pictures. I found some gems from old family vacations from the 60’s & 70’s. It also does negatives as well.

        • We culled all the landscape slides and took the rest to Costco and had them put on CD’s. I then went through them and made a list identifying each person. Sent a copy to all the relatives. Costco did a great job.

        • I gradually lost patience with the flatbed scanner that scanned slides, so got a Kodak Slide n Scan Film and Slide Scanner. It’s easy and does an OK job at least for the slides I had to copy. Colors and resolution are true to the slide. And, though it took awhile to figure how to do it, it scans directly to a memory card or laptop

        • When my mom died, we found a box of slides tucked in with her ‘dress gloves’ and scarfs. As we’d decided to do photo boards for the funeral home, I tools them to be printed. What a treasure to us! Turned out to be never seen before photos from my parent’s honeymoon…

      • thanks for this tip! It’s a great one and I have a professional photographer friend who tells me this is about the best way to get images off of slides now anyway.

  • Ann, you look like your beautiful mom.

    • The first thing I noticed. In fact, I first I thought it *was* you, Ann, until the period clothing and the black-and-white photography said otherwise.

  • I’ve art journaled for over 30 years, my mom did too. They’re piling up everywhere! At least photos take up less space

  • Get a new phone with more storage! I just upgraded my 6 y/o phone for that reason 😉

    • Be sure and back them up to your cloud – I’ve got 57,000 pictures on my iPhone, and if I lost (some of) them, I would be heartbroken. So they are mostly in Albums and backed up.

  • This is a topic that is weighing on me. I have generations of photos in so many different formats. I am grateful to one uncle who digitized and added comments to many photos from one branch of the family. He gave a disc to my mom. She was too embarrassed to admit she didn’t know how to use it. This treasure trove was only discovered because my sister was diligent about checking every possible data source before trashing discs, thumb drives, etc. I am deleting my own junk photos as aggressively as I can so others aren’t on a needle in a haystack search for the true gems. I hope someone has a feasible solution.

    • After my parents passed my brother took all the photos and slides and scanned them and put it on a flash drive, one for each of the siblings….they were not the best quality and when he died recently we were unable to open them. Sad loss of history.

  • Mpix. Digital photos can be uploaded and shared with whomever you choose. Events/categories can be put in separate ‘albums’. You can also order prints in a variety of sizes and formats. The prints for framing and thank you cards we’ve ordered have been good quality and good customer service. It has been a nice way to share special event photos without passing around your phone! Now, what to do with the other zillion random phone pics and the boxes and boxes of physical photos that keep arriving from aging relatives…no idea.

    • I found a fairly inexpensive scanner on Amazon and scanned all my mother’s albums a couple of years ago. But they’re not labeled or uploaded where they can be shared. I was hoping someone might share a good way to share them online with family.

    • A friend of mine with endless money hired someone to organize all her pictures. I’m now thinking it makes sense to ask for $ to fund the picture sorting project. Thanks.

  • If there is someone in your family who is interested in genealogy and/or ancestry.com-type stuff, give them the photos and have them upload them and you will be able to look up what your great-aunt-thrice-removed looked like.

  • The struggle is real! My mom passed over 6 years ago and I got the big box full of her family photos as well as her set of photos from her time with my family. I don’t know who most of the people are in the big box if they are not my grandparents, so they don’t hold much significance to me, yet I find it hard just to throw them out. I once had time to do some scrapbooking, now, I don’t. I did go through my mom’s set from my family and sorted them out for my brothers and gave them what made sense. Even the digital photos I have from the time I first got a camera to now are in various formats and my digital files are on my phone as well as two laptops and different photo storage sites. I know to organize them all will take a gargantuan amount of time that I just cannot afford to devote right now. By the time I do retire and have more time that is not put into a career, I do hope I have the drive and mental ability to sort and organize them all and can make good decisions on what’s important to keep and digitize. It is overwhelming to me to think about—much like decluttering every area of my house. It will be a marathon, for sure.

    • You hit a vein!! I think we all struggle. And I see no photos to share in future generations as they will die on our phones. Sad. I was good organizing prints.

      • Please tell me how you organized prints. Am in the hospital with time to plan. Thank you!

      • I had always put my print photos into albums with annotations. Sadly I used those “magnetic” albums (sticky pages with plastic that hold the photos in place. Remember them?) Now I face the challenge of scanning these photos, 40 years worth, as they are deteriorating, some more quickly than others (especially the ones in the, freebee albums, given away when you had your photos printed). Together with the thousands of digital pics, which aren’t organised, it is very daunting!
        I have decided that the outcome I would like is a library of physical photo books, much like the chronological albums I had created before the digital age with the occasional “special event” album (I will also end up with digital photo books) Next step…remove photos from all albums or do an album at a time, starting with the most deteriorated ones?

        • What I did with the magnetic albums: Remove the plastic, take a photo of the entire page, crop out what you want or drop the whole page in a digital book. Don’t try to remove the photo from the page! And just think it is already organized, and you’ve gotten rid of stuff and are on your way to a new book of photos to enjoy!

  • Please find a solution! Share it with us. My kids grew up during the print/bad digital/better digital photo technology, and their pictures are in so many formats, it makes my head spin. I have no answers, only questions.

  • My daughters occasionally rob the old photo albums so some of them have already gone; my husband has had many of them digitalized at a place that does that sort of thing, and put on discs and sent them to the girls. I have boxes of older photos that I have sorted and labeled by family; those boxes include other papers and historical trivia. What I have not done is annotate things, and added the stories that go with those people and that needs to be done while my mind still remembers.

  • Digital detritus is real as is the cupboard full of print pictures and the cache of 3×4 negatives with shots of my great, great grandparents on them. I have plans…so many plans. The one that wins is the one where I ignore the whole mess

    • Totally :)))))

  • My general thought is, you took these photos because they are capturing moments and telling stories. Now, put on your writer’s cap and edit the information and tell the stories.

    First, recognize it will be process and a project. Most critically, you will need to organize and edit. The last of these is probably the most difficult.

    Next, create a plan. For example, you have 60K photos. If you want to do this in a year, that is 150 photos a day to sort and organize. Pick a number of photos that you can agree to keep, 5 to 10 perhaps, out of that 150. At 10 seconds per photo, that is 25 minutes to make keep or toss decisions. Meaning, setting aside even 30 minutes a day will enable progress. If you still have issues with tossing, put them in long term storage. The point is to get them out of the way of telling the story. By the end of the process, you might find that you do not need them, that you have better (or comparable) photos of each subject in the keep pile.

    You will still have a lot of photos at the end of the year. But, then you can sort into subjects and identify the best photos to tell the story for each subject.

    This is just my general thought. We each have our own project management styles. For me, this is always about getting to the point where I realize I am gaining much more than I am losing.

    There are rewards. My husband was going through his dad’s photos and found one of the Pan Am building. His dad bought it on the street. The photographer became recognized. So we not only have a great shot of his dad’s office building, we have a somewhat valuable picture.

    • Thanks for your break it down strategy. I keep trying to remain grateful for a life with photos and stories.

    • This is GREAT!!! Thank you so much for this break down :)) I love it!

  • I’ve been trying to create order out of chaos with boxes of family photos and papers, the boxes of photo albums and the thousands on my phone and in my computer. Then my grandson scanned several more albums worth of photos, put them in Dropbox and sent them to me for labeling and sorting. I’ve spent many hours and have just touched the surface!

  • Hi Ann! I have the same issue in my phone and I have downloaded the Gemini app. It helps identify and cleanup duplicate photos as as well as blurry ones. It will choose the best one and suggest the ones to delete, with a tap. It’s how I cull out a few of mine. It helps to makes a dent. There are a lot of other features too, but you just have to make yourself use them. That’s the trick.

  • I have mine in a big box, somewhere in my room of stash. Isn’t that what boxes are for?

    • Oh, this sounds familiar . . .

  • As our elderly parents move on, we are the keepers of their memories. Quite often it is the photos of people we don’t even recognize. I had boxes of slides and bought a cheaper single slide viewer. I went through the slides and tossed rather quickly the slides that I had no interest. Why would I need this mountain, prairie and desert landscape? Toss. I then put the keepers in a large envelope with the idea I need to come back and cull out only a few family photos. (When? E-gads) That initial toss reduced 100 slide BOXES down to 10 years of big envelopes. Our grown sons are not that interested in seeing these. They want to remember their grandparents as they were not as newly married in the 1950s. So we should all ask am I saving them for them or am I saving them for me.

    Just as I had to deal with the sorting of all my parents’s stuff do I want to put that burden on my children when I am gone? Do what you can and good luck to you all.

    • Adult kids’ attitudes can change as years go by. Often in middle age an interest in ancestors and origins can arise. Keep at least a minimum of photos that document previous generations and the kids can decide later whether they want them.

      • yesss – how TRUE…

    • When my father retired in 1980, his retirement project was to organize the slides he had taken over much of his life. It became a family joke, which was less funny when I was clearing their home and felt compelled to keep the box and take on the project, to do in my retirement. I’ve now been retired for 10 years and have spent a total of one evening going through the slides. But I keep the box, not because of interest in the slides but because of guilt and misplaced nostalgia. I know the last thing Dad would have wanted is for me to feel burdened by this task that he wasn’t interested enough to work on during his 30 years of retirement. We have several of albums recording our family history on my shelf, and several framed photos of our grandparents. Those I will keep. My new goal is to throw out the box of slides before the punishment gets passed on to my daughter when she’s clearing out my things.

  • When I was sitting alone with my husband’s grandmother years ago, in the hospital, in her final days, she waved me to her saying she had something to tell me. Thinking I was going to be let in on some deep family secret I bent close. She whispered “Always write the names on the backs of pictures. You think you’ll remember, but you don’t”.
    So that’s my advice – go through, label who and what you can, and store them away. Two things about actual photos – their access software will never become obsolete, and people will always gain something by looking at them.

  • Anyone looking for help with digitizing and storage should check out Forever.com – it is an amazing service that will help you get photos scanned and/or stored and organized for generations to come…no mining of your info, you own your photos. Here is a link for 2GB of free storage to start plus a $20 coupon. https://www.forever.com/ambassador/karen-akens

  • Work with a family archivist to preserve and catalog them. I worked with angelaltodd.com and highly recommend her. (She also happens to enjoy yarncrafts )

    Our family had about 6k and chose to digitize them (we used a small firm, scanalot.com) and then to donate the originals to an historical archive so the collection would remain in tact somewhere. We set terms that would allow family members have access to the archive now and historians will have access in 50 yrs.

  • My dad was a fan of slides and we’d do the Vacation Presentation in our basement and they’d invite friends and family over for the show. Mom has a collection of the old carousels and the projector.
    He also had an 8mm movie camera so two years ago she had several of the short movies copied to DVDs and we each have one now. It’s the Funniest Holiday Collection – our antics caught by dad at family gatherings.
    Me? I participate in several flickr photo challenges and take about 50,000 photos per year and own several cameras film, instant, and digital plus the cell phone. Recently, I’ve been going through the most recent to delete those that make no sense or no one would care about.
    Then, there’s the boxes of photos up here on top of my yarn and magazine shelf (one of the many) and the external hard drive that’s holding about 10 years of digital pics.

    Not a clue here other than I upload the best of my shots to my flickr account but, if the day comes when I no longer pay for the extra storage they get deleted automatically.

    It’s a big question, that’s for sure.

  • Been there done that! First, delete all the landscape, sunset and sunrise shots with no people. Then delete all those with people and cars you don’t recognize. Make a few albums and divide pictures amongst them by how important that person is in the picture- For a group picture of three sisters, find the one with the best picture and assign it to her album. There will be many pictures of tables of food, dump them. There will be lots of Christmas trees, dump them. Ditto with small children in play pools- whittle down to one. There will be twenty shots of every baby, non of which are recognizable but if they are, pick ONE and proceed to ‘sister’ plan above. All duplicates- out! All pictures taken at same event- edit down to one important one and stick in a new album. Rule- when somebody sends you a bunch of pictures, look at them, comment, and ditch! (Of course you can save one if you must.). Lastly, save any pictures that might be important to family someday of YOU. (Hey, look what that picture of your mom did to you!). And of course save all the pictures of you. There is an App that finds duplicates and shows you where they are- worth it!

    I am in process here- found that I cannot tell any of my 4 grandkids baby pictures apart. Bad grandma, only saved the identifiable ones! Be ruthless and you’ll get that pile down to 45,000 in no time.

    • This is a great strategy. We currently have the archives of my husband’s family. His mom was a scrapbook/photo album nut and we have thousands of pictures of their vacations with other people, etc. I hate throwing away most of what she enjoyed, but someone once told me that these books already served their purpose with the joy they provided to the original owner and we should feel no obligation to preserve them. I face a similar task with the thousands of pictures that I have taken of my own family. My goal for this year is to sort these into groups for my two children, and make a memory book(s) for each of them. An incremental approach is necessary. The same applies to all of the “stuff” collected over a lifetime. I’m trying to go through all of my things now and finding homes, selling, donating, etc. Memories I have of “things” and the joy in using them have served their purpose, and don’t need to be a burden to the next generation. Of course i always ask my children if they want xx and the answer is usually no. It has taken a lifetime to acquire so allow yourself the time to let go.

    • Ha ha!

    • I’m one of three children and when we were young there was one baby picture that my mother identified as each of us at different times. Even she couldn’t tell the difference!

  • There is an app I was just looking at because of course I have the same problem. So many photos and how to collect organize and share? Check out https://mylio.com/. I also subscribe to am email from The Photo Managers (thephotomanagers.com) and am hoping for photo management serenity this year as well!

  • I have been making printed family ‘yearbooks’ from Shutterfly or Blurb, etc. Every year (during the year) I heart/favorite my best, favorite photos on my phone. These are eligible for yearbook inclusion. At the end of the year, I put all the hearted/favorites from that year into a folder on my phone labeled with that year. Then I can upload them or put them in my laptop for the printed book. I still have a lot to catch up on and my photos are still out of control, but I’ve done this for quite a few years and it helps.

    • Very similar here. I have been doing yearbooks since 2005 or so. I give one to each son at Christmas and keep one copy for us. The deadline ensures that I actually get it done and while I have a prayer of remembering some of the details. Now to delete all the photos that are already in the yearbooks…

    • Same here. I have done a printed book of digital photos every year that represents our granddaughters year. Gifting one to all a week after the birthday. She turns 18 on Monday, so another book is due. Deadline works great! They are all still (at 18) one of her favorite things to do when she visits.

  • This was my lock-down project and will probably never be finished. When I cleaned out my mother’s basement I stashed in my house all the photos and albums going back to the 20’s and letters to around 1890, ditto from my father’s garage. Husband was only child so we have letters and photos from both his parents’ families back to around 1830, and movies since the 30’s.

    Many (over 59,000) are digitized already, and Adobe Photoshop Elements helped a lot. It has a great organizing tool (called the Organizer) that lets you attach tags photos with whatever system works for you (face recognition built into the program helps with this). Then the program will sort based on whichever tags you want, so you can restructure the folder system however it makes sense. And there’s also a pretty powerful editing part if you want to get into fiddling.

    If you decide to try Photoshop Elements, I recommend the Classroom in a Book series, which makes learning what you need to use the program simple.

    • attach tags TO photos

  • I’d love to know if anyone has experience with a good (accurate copies), easy to use, not terribly expensive photo scanner — the kind you just slip the photo in. I have the same problem: years of photos and no efficient to organize and commit them to digital form. Thanks!

  • My father-in-law was a photographer at one point in his life. As a result, he took a lot of photos. Now that he’s gone, my husband and his siblings have decided that the ‘non-people’ photos – those of vacations, roads, hills, vehicles, animals, etc – will be thrown out unless someone wants them. So far, no takers.

    The photos containing people along with their negatives are being dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Some are being digitized, others that pertain to one sibling more than the other, are being given to the appropriate sibling. No final decision yet regarding the ‘leftovers’, but i suspect they will be thrown out unless one of the grandkids or great grandkids want them.

    Parts of my husband’s family are not very sentimental and often make decisions too quickly to suit the more sentimental factions of the family. It remains to be seen how this will all play out.

    In some cases, my 95-year-old Mother-in-law and her 87-year-old sister have been given the chance to look at the photos one last time before they are disposed of – no matter HOW they’re disposed of.

  • I received an Epsom Fast Foto scanner for Christmas. It scans a picture a second and has built in software to color correct. I can scan and organize thousands of photos in a fraction of the time it took with the old flat bed scanner.

  • I built a crackling fire out in the yard, and with deep respect and appreciation for all these beautiful people who had made it possible for me to enjoy the gift of a human life, and feel the joy of belonging, I tossed the photos into the flames. Sometimes one by one, taking the time to gaze at the image, or in clumps and bunches, they all dropped into the blaze. It took quite some time, with the resulting liberation being deeper than just the regained space from all those boxes of paper; the flames having also viscerally burned away generations of misplaced obligation and outdated hobbling traditions. As for digital photos, every January I expunge everything from four years back. Having less materially, freed from the weight of a collective past, makes it easier to shift and evolve my thinking and ways of being, allowing me to live and enjoy each moment of now more fully and vibrantly. The fire cracked open my previously frustrated creativity, and now it bounces and flows….

    • LOVE THIS !

    • I love this……

  • Every day I wake up and promise myself i’m going to organize the 14,000 pictures in Photos app (plus God knows how many photographs in albums that are hanging out)!!!! I tried to conquer this beast the first year of the pandemic and wound up having hundreds of photos laying on my dining room table for a year. I haven’t even read others comments (my daughters have diagnosed me with ADHD which is my go to explanation for everything now:))))). I hope someone comes up with a doable solution. In the meantime photos keep popping up and all I want to do is knit.

    • sounds sooo familiar!

    • …”and all i want to do is knit”…
      me too… maybe the rightful place of images/memories is in our minds
      instead of albums, be it tangible or virtual… just a thought until we still can think or remember?

      • ABSOLUTELY.

  • I’m assuming all are digital. I periodically go through my most recent photos and assign them to “albums”. This forces me to look at the pictures again. I delete the o es I don’t need to save (the pictures I send to a family member at their request or for information or some I am just done with). Once a knitting related object goes into my Ravelry page I often delete from my phone. I sometimes get brutal – pictures from a trip need to be labeled when I return or when I look at them later I may not remember what it is and it may get deleted if it isn’t special in some other way. When I’m traveling, I go through my pictures from the day to select one or two to post to FB. That’s a good opportunity to go through them and delete any bad pictures or duplicates. I find that more manageable than waiting until I get home – then I’m ready to label and save to an album.

  • I have this same conundrum and have chosen to ignore it. I read recently that Kaffe Faccett does not personally “do” technology. It takes too much of his time pursuing creative interests. So, someday my kids will get the boxes and albums and slides. Then they will curse their mother and probably pitch a lot of it. In the meantime, I will look through a box of photos every now and then. If I organized all that stuff knitting and sewing time would be sadly limited.

    • Thank you for saying this. You’ve inspired me to do likewise!

  • My Dad was at AU in 1955. I wonder if they crossed paths…

  • Physical pictures have been divided between the kids. Each one has a pile of mostly themselves. Digital pics ? I have 80,000 in my phone and I use cloud storage to keep them. I guess when I go to Valhalla, my heirs can figure that out. I will leave them a password.
    I was lucky to have a bunch of photos from my dad which I took photos of and made into books that he loved.
    I have always been the archivist in my family of origin. Mostly my own kids don’t care much. They are of the present and rarely look back.

  • I have thought about selecting a top “365” photo collection for each year and printing them in a book. Going back through photos it’s amazing how many can be tossed. It’s made me more thoughtful about choosing when to take photos and when to just be in the moment.

    • If you can afford it, there are professional organizers who specialize in organizing photos. They do everything from scanning, sorting, making books, etc. Google it!

  • After I scanned the old photos I could only throw out duplicates. In some cultures the image has captured part of the person’s soul……..maybe that’s it.
    I wonder how future technology will allow access to all these digital files?

  • I use an app called Flic that helps you go through your photos month by month by swiping left to toss or right to keep (like a dating app!). I like it bc it breaks the task down into manageable chunks. Great pic of your mama!

    • This seems like a brilliant idea!

  • Ohmygosh you look like your mom!

  • First of all, very young Ann is as darling as can be.
    I too have several shoeboxes, and stand to inherit MANY more photos.
    Not to mention all those digitals on various drives, also in shoeboxes…
    hoping to find all of the answers here.

  • I recently went through hard copy photos and threw out many. I have nobody who will want them, so why keep them? The slides are next! Must say it was hard tossing the 5 x 7 of the former special boyfriend…

  • I have 20 albums that chronicle those many years. Each year has photos with captions of birthdays, anniversary dinners, plays and scouts and swim parties.
    No one wants them so I scanned each page of each album and saved digitally. But what to do with the hard copies as they are difficult to discard, so they are still taking up space.
    I was diligent for many years making albums, but now my phone has thousands of snaps in the cloud that even I cannot make myself put in any order. Guess they will just float up there and someday disappear with the angels.

  • So many of us have ended up as the depository for family documents and photos. I suppose that says something about our age. I was certainly one and luckily am a strong culler. Is that even a word? My rule of thumb is whatever I’m looking at gets culled down to between 1 and 3 items. Period. The stories are held in our hearts and heads and looking at 1 or 50 will make little difference in what we remember. I then digitized everything, put on disk and thumb drives, put them in a box with notes to the next generation to inherent and said “If you want to know more about your family, here it is.”

  • Hi! I run a business called FreeMyFotoz, and help people manage their photos, both digital and print. For digital photos, using tags to help you find things, and dating photos properly is a huge step in the right direction. For print photos, most clients want them digitized, and when you do that, digitizing them in a high resolution and then properly dating the photo and giving it both tags in your online library and/or a file name that helps make sense of it is key.
    I do all of this and more for clients, and enjoy helping them get their photos into a state that they can enjoy, whatever that looks like.
    If you had a magic wand and could wave it over your photos/memorabilia, what would the end result look like? That’s Me! I’m the magic wand!
    Tricia Nelson

  • I only keep printed photos of long lost pets – but what I really wish I had was recordings of their barks and meows because I have long-forgotten what each one sounded like. Someone else in the family can remind me what the PEOPLE looked like; I ain’t got time for that.

  • Paper and digital pictures each have their own set of solutions. Digital photos may not matter to anyone but you. Problem solved.
    Print photos are another story. Photomyne has ideas and services along with those mentioned in comments.
    Just to free up memory on my phone, whenever I am waiting for an appointment or in a line somewhere I go through my digital photos and delete. It feels good to hit “delete”!

  • My dad’s hobby was photography, so this is an issue for me. We decided on throwing out all scenery shots, and keeping only really good shots with people in them. We divided the photos and digitized slides between the three kids.

    As for the thousands of shots on my phone, I have weeks and weeks of culling ahead of me before any organization can take place. I’m dreading it but I see no way around it. My friend and I are going to take a class at the Apple Store on photos and the Cloud and I’m hoping they will have a short cut.

  • I just inherited mountains of photos from my parents who both died in the past two years. I threw away a ton – flowers, landscapes, etc. , sent a box to each of my cousins of theirs, and now I have the rest to deal with. One thing I have found: NO ONE really wants them. They all have their own photos to deal with. I have lots of “antique” photos (probably turn of the century) that we have no idea who they are. What good do these do? Keep that in mind when you sort your own. They really don’t mean much to anyone else but the picture taker.

  • Ann, I love the pictures of you, your sister and mom! You girls were so serious and adorable. Your mom was so pretty. Unfortunately, I’m not the one for photo organization. I sure love looking at them, though!

  • Dear Ann,

    Do not despair.

    Our phones put them in chronological order by default, so rest assured they aren’t a mass of chaos… but it sounds like that isn’t useful to you.

    In archives we always want a (hopefully pristine or hi-res) preservation copy for each image AND a copy (duplicate photo or lo-to- medium resolution copy) to print, hang, share, do art projects with, or to rearrange by subject, color, importance, or if you have a knitted products shop perhaps by retail, commissions, and gifts.

    The chronological images can stay as is if you like, then arrange access copies how you’d like. But be sure the date is attached in the Metadata so you can go back to the archival copy when needed.

    All best,
    Angela L. Todd

  • I have 2 good sources of info and methods: Linda Sattgast (Family History Hero) and Miss Freddy (on line MissFreddy.com). They both have good professional advice about organizing those boxes of family history.

  • Contact Rachel LaCour Niesen with Save Family Photos. They curate all your photos for you!!!

    https://www.savefamilyphotos.com/

  • Sharing advice I heard—search your photos app for today’s date, see all the pics taken on this date over the years, delete the ones you don’t need or want, then repeat tomorrow. It’s a fun break/moment to enjoy the memory, and you’ve chipped away at all the duplicates or junk.

  • If these are photos you love, and want to pass on to the future, scan and make copies for any cousins who want them. They will know some of the unknowns when they see them. If you just need to get the photos saved, and the space rededicated to yarn, scan onto an external hard drive.

  • Phew! This is a true dilemma, as I have 20 thousand + on my phone too.
    But I have FORCED myself to edit them. (I know, the Cloud and my phone have enough room, but I can’t stand all those endless near-duplicates.)
    Each year I get into my laptop – easier than using my iPhone – and look at each pic. Many I don’t want/don’t remember/no longer need. ZAP.
    Many more get pinned to the appropriate Pinterest board. ZAP.
    The rest are all wanted, and it feels good to have them curated: a modern form of journal.
    I store them not at full resolution, so I never have to worry about space.

  • Hoo boy. I understand all too well. I’m the oldest, I was the yearbook photo editor and family photographer, and I took all my parents’ photos out of those sticky 1980s albums and put them in decent albums which I now have, not to mention the thousands of photos of my own husband and kids. I paid a “send us a box of photos and we will scan them” service to scan a bunch of them, which I now need to put in order— couldn’t afford to pay extra for that— and I bought an iPad scanning app that I’m going to pay my 16-year-old to use on the parents’ albums as a summer odd job. Beyond that? I guess make a folder of pics of each year and do one of those automatic Shutterfly albums in which they just pop them into the album in order. Good luck! And wow do you look like your mom! Such a cute photo. 🙂

  • I don’t have the solution, but thoughts — I have been making photo books (I use Shutterfly) of important occasions and trips, with a holiday season thrown in now and again. My theory is that books have been a durable technology. As for slides, Costco used to have a digitizing service that was pretty cheap. I had my dad’s slides from the first 8-10 years of my parent’s marriage. I chose the people ones, for the most part, and had them scanned. Luckily (for my purposes here) they were poor in those days, so taking and developing pictures was a little bit of a splurge, so not over-numerous. But as I read some of your thoughts (Ann & the commenters) I realize I should be making a best-of book from the slides, too. They’re precious. Also that I maybe ought to make a book or two of ordinary family memories for posterity. I can’t imagine using the bonfire solution, but I can imagine the freedom. I think it would feel like burning history, and that doesn’t work, for me.

  • First, throw out all the pictures with no one in them unless it is a beloved family home.
    Second, toss the pictures no one can identify.
    Third, write on the back the name of the person and an estimated date.
    This leaves you with photos you or someone else can work with.
    Finally, get them printed in an album. Other family members can order a copy. The album will keep for years on your bookshelf and you will always be able to open it and look at it.

  • I’ve recently started to create albums for my digital photos. Who knew that was an option? Lol I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner but it seems to help a bit when trying to look for a past photo

  • We are possibly the best-documented family in the country, at least among families who do this strictly on an amateur basis. There are photos, slides, 8 mm movies, vhs tapes, videos … their variety and volume are staggering. Family members with an interest in these collections have made a few projects that document some key moments for sharing. These have included photo books with commentary, blog posts with commentary, videos with commentary … the key is the commentary. Find a few events or people that are memorable, select the best images, and write a story. People in the present will enjoy these, and they may be interesting enough to pass along.

  • I have gazillions of photos, slides, and film. I got all the film and slides on CDs. I divided all the photos into three large boxes: before me (1955); my birth till wedding; and, then children until now. At Christmas, I gave the box of the children to them to organize. They had the BEST time looking at the photos of them as children! And now I’m a third of the way to having all me pics organized!

  • My advice (in the words of John Prine, “I’ve been down this road before”): clear off the ping pong table (be honest, you haven’t played for a while) and start making piles: immediate family, extended family, people-close-enough-to-be-family, past loves, travel, school memories, and who-the-heck-are-these-people photos. Then after you threaten anyone in your household with doing-dishes-for-a-year if they so much as open a door to create a draft that would disturb those piles, start subdividing the piles, and begin labeling.

    • My parents created albums for each of us kids and sorted photos & slides on the ping pong table! I became the keeper of their albums after they died. Eventually, I divided their photos into 4 piles, scanned the very special photos onto CDs (olde-timey, I know) and gave an album & CD to each sibling. Each sibling got a few very special photos.

  • I have a ton of slides and will heed the advice below: toss the landscape ones with no people, keep a few, etc.

    But I need to buy a scanner to do so. Lots of good tips here for models/makes so thanks!

    As for my Photo library on my Mac, well, that’s another story. Need to purge duplicates and there was a lot of good advice here about deleting food photos, pets, kids, etc etc etc

    I found my grandmother’s photo album a few years ago and scanned the photos. Then I uploaded them into a Google drive to share with my family. They loved it. And luckily I got my uncle to help me identify some mystery people in those pics before he really lost it with Alzheimers and passed away last yer.

  • Such a lovely photo! It’s heartwarming to see pictures of our Moms when so young and carefree.

  • The digital photo library is an improvement on the physical photo album. Or perhaps not. I really don’t have a solution.

  • I am a photographer and have way too many photos…but for family photos the best advice I got once was to forget chronology. When you have time just put (edited) photos in an album. I find it more fun to look at pictures that are not in order by year. Also I have found that not editing right away has an advantage. Now when I look at old saved photos there are many that don’t mean as much anymore and are easy to eliminate.
    If you use an album with removable pages you can then scan or photograph the full page and make books from any of the services like Snapfish or Blurb or Lightroom. And for me when well chosen, less is more.

  • Oh photos….. One summer as a teenager, I went through the large tub my mom kept dumping photos into (some developed, some still on the film canister), developed them all, labeled them all with names and dates as best as possible (I badgered my 5 siblings into helping with that), and then sorted them out into photo albums for everyone (3 ring binders with photo pages). I also printed out a sheet of paper with highlighted dates for each persons life. I’ve kept my own binders up when I have printed photos but often mine are digital photos now….
    As far as the ones on my phone, I try to spend a few minutes each week going through and deleting “doubles” or “bad” images – but I still have thousands on there…. Maybe schedule 5 minutes a day to sort through the digital phone ones? And someday I will take time to actually print the photos I want to keep. I use Snapfish to print my digital photos, but I know there’s other services that do the same thing and even ones that will sort them into a photo album for you.

    As for slides and negatives? My local Library has a “Library of Things” and I was able to borrow a device to make the negatives digital. I only had a handful of rolls worth and it took less than an hour start to finish. I still need to sort them out and decide if I want to print any (they were the table cameras at our wedding) but at least I have an easy option to print them if I want now.

    • Oh, I meant to also say, I’ve heard the iPhone has a setting now where it will identify doubles for you and offer to delete them. I don’t remember how to access it but I’m sure a quick google search will tell you. It’s entirely possible other phones will do the same thing but I don’t know.