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Organize Your Photos in 5 Easy Steps To Preserve Your Family Memories

Following this 5 Step proven workflow for your old media & photos is the best way to ensure you will successfully organize, preserve and share your family memories.


Sarah Macnaught

October 26, 2020

Your memories, digitized.

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All photos copyright of Sarah Macnaught

Step 1. Focus on the end Goal

Spoiler alert: Do not rush out to buy any boxes or things that would make you feel organized.  This is also not the time to worry about what size photobook you are going to make nor the colour of the cover.  You have work to do.

Decide what you want to do with the photo collections you are responsible for and how much room you want it to take up in your home and life.  Set your boundaries fast.

Many people reach a tipping point with their photo collection after a bereavement when they inherit the enormous mess left behind by their loved ones and don’t know how to start.  Extracting memories from stuff is difficult but is it certain that some of that obsolete media and thousands of prints will contain hidden memories which could create wonderful memories. Conversely, 3500 slides of Dad’s work on road construction materials may not. If you want help at this point, there are links below to all international organizing associations whose members could support you on the path to achieving your goals.

Step 2. Collect the Mess

Create a space in your home that you don’t need for a couple of days/weeks/months for this stage.  In every household, the photos and old videotapes, albums, SD cards, USB sticks, DVDs, CDs cinefims, scrapbooks and slides are never in the same place. Check the loft, the basement, the top bookshelves, bedroom/office drawers and the children’s memory boxes.  We leave our memories scattered everywhere!   Photos in broken frames, artwork on walls, magnets on fridges…

Now step back, assess your mess and breathe. You’ve got this! (but if you haven’t, help is at hand!)

Step 3. Sort by Category

First golden rule of organizing is to put ‘like with like’.  Even stacking all the photo wallets together starts to make the job just a little more do-able.

With obsolete media you can no longer view, there are suppliers who can digitize for you into readable formats.  Create a detailed inventory, get a quote and let them sort it for you.

Extract printed photos from fusty albums, wallets and suitcases and use shoeboxes, index cards and a marker pen to collect them all into chronological or thematic order. This is the most important part of the process.  Because this is when you can edit your collection down to a manageable size.  Suddenly you will see what you don’t need to keep any more – blurry shots, duplicates, toxic memories etc.

Step 4. Save your Memories

It’s time to go digital with all those originals you want to keep.  Scanning options abound - in-phone apps, flatbed scanners, high speed photo scanners, camera scanning ….  You will then need to merge these with your existing digital photos – again lots of help is at hand!   You will need to do some research on what you want to achieve, but joining/searching through this Facebook group of professional photo organizing advisors is a great start.  

And you must back it all up. Use the 3-2-1 rule to back your memories up 3 times in2 different formats, with at least 1 copy not living with you.  Investing time in preserving your memories will reap rewards for generations to come.


Step 5. Share your Stories

Well you already had all those ideas abounding at Step 1 so have fun!  Create your websites, photo books, slideshows, video playbooks, Legacy books with ease – when all your memories are curated, saved and ready to access, there are no more boundaries to share your stories with your loved ones.

If you need any professional organizing help at any step of your journey, click on one of the links below to find your nearest specialist:


United Kingdom


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