The Family Photo Project

Wednesday Apr 29th, 2020


After 6 weeks of intense social distancing, isn’t it crazy how this strange new reality has started to feel “normal”?  While it’s easy to fill your time watching endless COVID-19 news stories and feeling panicked by the uncertainty we are facing, a change of mindset can help us view this free, uninterrupted time, as gift. 


How about attacking some of those projects that you’ve never had time for? This is the perfect time to work on the goal of “right-sizing” your life. Whether you are six months or 2 years away from a move or downsize, I can assure you, the relief of streamlining your belongings will put a smile on your face and offer you a huge sense of accomplishment!


Let’s discuss family photos…

Perhaps you have too many. Maybe they are a mess. They could be in multiple formats. Here’s an action plan to get you started!


Step 1: Look through your full collection


What to toss 

  • Duplicate photos (remember how we used to print doubles of everything?)
  • Scenery shots of vacations (hold on to 1 or 2 of the best ones if you want)
  • People whose names you cannot remember (don’t worry, we all have these!)
  • Unflattering pictures of people (they will thank you)

How to reduce

  • Pictures of events - how many pictures of that event do I need to keep? Less meaningful events, like your sister’s baby shower can likely be trimmed down significantly. 
  • Day to day images – Some can probably be tossed, and others reduced. For example, keep only one image of that snowman your grandkids made, rather than five!
  • Memorable events - does the image bring back happy memories? If not, consider parting with it.

Step 2:  Sort and Organize


Organize Photos Into Categories

  • Family - immediate, maternal/paternal, extended
  • Friends - current and past (again, if you don’t remember people, toss it)
  • Vacations/Trips
  • Events - Birthdays (milestone vs annual), Weddings, Anniversaries


  • Organize your photo categories into timelines. Don’t worry if you can’t remember exactly when a pictures was taken. Even organizing into decades or 5 year time spans will help


  • Try to write a few words on the back of every photo. Names, dates, event, anything that will jog your memory or give the photo meaning for other people.

Step 3: Digitize and Back-up


This is super-important on so many levels. Firstly, your photos are not safe (from flood, fire, etc) unless they are in a digital format. Secondly, we are in digital world. Someday when you need to pass those pictures along to the next generation, your grandchildren will thank you when you had them a hard drive instead of five boxes of albums or loose pictures.

  • Many stores, such as Costco, offer digitizing photos and slides for a very reasonable cost. 
  • You can also choose to do it yourself with a good scanner, but expect this to be quite time-consuming
  • Don’t forget to back this up, either to a “cloud” type program online, or a second hard drive that can be kept in a safety deposit box or other safe location outside of your some.

And What About Digital Pictures?


Most likely, your past 15 years or so of pictures have been taken on a digital camera or cell phone. A few tips to tackle these images:

  • Ensure your photos have been moved off your device and are backed up on elsewhere. For example, your pictures may be on your computer AND a hard drive, or some form of cloud-based storage (Google pictures, DropBox, iCloud, etc)
  • Reduce, sort and organize using the same tips as mentioned above
  • Consider if and how you would like to display these pictures, for example:
    • Photobooks (available through Costco, Walmart, Shutterfly, etc)
    • Streamed onto your TV using a device like an Apple TV
    • Select special images to share on Social Media or emails

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