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feathers11

Photos, photos, and what to do with more photos

Feathers11
8 days ago

I have never been organized with photos. Ever. I never scrapbooked or put together photo albums--that level of organization is not in my DNA. Like most of us, I suspect, I just have a ton of photos all over, in various places and in various formats.


But I want to gather in one place a collection of photos for my young adult children. I wouldn't want my mother to hand me 50,000 pics of my childhood, and I know my kids don't want that, either. So my goal is to whittle them down to 500 photos per kid (which still seems like a lot). 500 pics of the important milestones, family members, pets, friends, activities, travel, and a few everyday shots. I like looking back at the homes of my parents and grandparents and the cars they drove, so I'd include some "historical" photos, too.


Does this sound reasonable? Has anyone attempted to do this? In what format would you suggest? I'm not opposed to digital storage, but I'm a bit leary of it. This is prompted by the sudden finding last week that one of my flash drives with an important set of photos no longer works.

Comments (27)

  • l pinkmountain
    8 days ago

    It's on my "to do" list. I still haven't gotten to it. I think the best thing to do is to set up an area to work on it, and just put in a few minutes on a regular basis until you have tackled it all. My main problem is not having a clear, clean area to work on it all.

    Another option would be to get all your photos and all your cataloging supplies together and scheduling a weekend retreat somewhere, taking it all with you and trying to get it all done in one big swoop. Maybe you could get a friend or other family member to go and assist and keep you on track . . .

    Just some ideas. I know it can be done, but I have yet to be successful at this particular task.

    Feathers11 thanked l pinkmountain
  • Funkyart
    8 days ago

    Personally, I would go digital with maybe a smaller number printed. Digital is the permanent archive.


    There are a lot of software products that allow you to tag photos with a date, event, individuals' names. I would start there. Lightroom is a very easy to learn tool for this but it is also a tool for photo processing, adjustments etc.


    I would store in the cloud (one or more locations) and give each of them password access-- but for actual delivery, I would use a thumb drive to which they can move to their own cloud backup services.


    Flash drive and external hard drives and even internal drives will fail over time (ask me how I know) .. but having redundant backups and storing in the cloud, gives you peace of mind. And again, i recommend each of your children store redundantly too.

    Feathers11 thanked Funkyart
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  • localeater
    8 days ago

    Maybe, kinda, sorta.

    Our boys' HS has a tradition that the graduation seniors all receive a letter from their parents at their "pod's"(like a homeroom) party. We decided to do our 'letter' for each boy in the form of a printed photo journal. This was a record of birth to graduation with key moments and their friends. This exercise kicked of some bigger endeavors wherein we digitized key photos that had been taken old school. Since then the boys regularly receive theme albums, grandparents, family vacations, christmas through the years, houses we've lived in, etc. Each album requires us digitizing a few more photos and that process always is pretty organized. Photos get tagged, and are in files by year and month.

    My DH spearheaded this, he's pretty awesome.

    Feathers11 thanked localeater
  • Funkyart
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Thats such a great approach, local. Break down the herulean task into manageable bites!

    Feathers11 thanked Funkyart
  • l pinkmountain
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    I bought a special photo scanner to use just for this task, but have yet to put it into service. I have a work area in my Mom's old office, but the office area is full up with boxes of stuff that I need to go through and organize, plus piles of mending, so I can't even get to the scanner as of yet. It's easy to close the door on that room. I have other rooms just as bad if not worse that are on a higher priority. Like my office and garage.

    Sigh.

    There are companies that specialize in scanning family photos that will scan them for you. You do have to gather them and mail them out though . . .

    Feathers11 thanked l pinkmountain
  • Bookwoman
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    My children were born in the late '80s and early '90s, so their childhoods are preserved in photo albums (and some video), which we look at from time to time with great delight.

    So as localeater recommends, I would curate smaller selections of a larger digital archive and have them made into physical photo albums, via Snapfish or a similar service. It's so much nicer (and easier!) to look at photos when they're printed out, and in a larger size than what you can see on a phone.

    Feathers11 thanked Bookwoman
  • Lars
    8 days ago

    I use Dropbox in addition to several external hard drives and thumb drives for storing my digital photos. My brother and I both have scanners, but mine is in L.A. and his is in Cathedral City, as we need scanners for both locations. We use them mostly for scanning documents.

    Both scanners will also scan slides and negatives, and then they have to be edited in Photoshop.

    I was given the job of scanning and archiving our mother's collection of photos, which were in complete disarray, and I didn't even know most of the people in them, and so I stopped scanning them. No one ever asked for them.

    I think I would like to have more photos from my childhood, but even more I would like to have photos from my life in San Francisco, during which time I did not always have a camera - at least not until about 1978, I think, and I did not have a good one until 1981.

    Feathers11 thanked Lars
  • arcy_gw
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Well at least they are YOURS. I am deep into wading through a box we 'inherited' when my in laws died. Each sibling took a box with the expectation they would weed through them, winnow out what's important, recycle the rest. Yes we are putting them on computer for everyone to see as they wish but no one has them cluttering the house. Digging for a pic of their 200 yr old home for another thread I discovered we got the box with all the ancestors pics. I've decided they need to be sorted through. I have ignored the task for 10 years feeling only DH can look at his family's life and decide what's important to keep. Well he isn't going to EVER and I have time..so here I am trying to catalogue the ancestors and decipher whose who. It's rare there's a name or date which is unfortunate but I will put them in a file, maybe one of the other's will be able to add what we don't know. I love making memories books on the computer. I've done our Alaska trip, my programs year books, books for my kids, retirement books for co-workers...but I was a part of all those memories so I have the big picture. This is not the same thing. Do not assume anyone knows anyone's name or when a thing happened. be sure to label everything with the dates. Is 500 too much? IDK how much did your kids do? One pic per event is probably more than enough. I will tell you, my girls were in/stared in many stage productions in their youth. I put them in books via Shutterfly. My girls found them odd. They were full of MY idea of what was important. I was told if they had made the books with what they remembered as important to them different pics would have been in them. SIGH

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  • jmck_nc
    8 days ago

    We recently started going through our pre-digital photos. UGH! What a task and we have boxes from my husband's family as well. We are ruthlessly throwing out those that are not important, we don't know who the person is, we have doubles or quadruples of the same shot, etc. We are keeping a select group to scan. I don't know that we will ever make books...but these several boxes need to go! It is our "hot day summer project" for this summer. Then I will make my husband get rid of the 3 or 4 video cameras we have been toting around for years because "it's the only way to watch the videos". The videos are horrible...I'm sure of it, even though we have never looked at them! (except for the sports ones from my son's teams that my husband coached)

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  • jmck_nc
    8 days ago

    Also, I made a scrapbook for each of my kids with photos of their life from birth to age 21 for one and 30 for the other (I got sidetracked for a few years). It had photos of places we lived, pets, sports teams, halloween costumes, etc. It was very well received at the time but the now 29 yo (who got his book at 21) has never shown interest in taking it to his home. Maybe when he has kids.

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  • salonva
    8 days ago

    I am reading this hoping for the magic answer. We moved in 2018, downsized.. Before the move I tackled some of the photos. I promised myself that the first winter we were at our new house, I would try to really get to the rest. I too have photos from my parents , in laws, and all of our family photos.. Needless to say, that never happened and here it is 2022.

    Every so often I do go through a bunch and toss out the really superfluous photos. I even have slides from my parents' vacations. I was better with those, because unless the photo was of my parents looking wonderful, I tossed it. (I don't know who half the people were in the photos).


    I would love to ultimately scan the remainder but I can't even guess how many photos there are. Many are in albums (but then you know the deal, the "kids" needed a photo for a school project and it never made it back into the album) and many more are in bags and boxes. We have a spare guest room with desk and dressers full of photos.


    I am pretty good at decluttering, and getting rid ( donating or tossing or offering on buynothing) but these photos are just too difficult.

    Feathers11 thanked salonva
  • SeattleMCM
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Sift through them and delete the obvious duds. At the same time, start curating a "best of" collection that's for all three of them together. They would probably appreciate having photos of their siblings, so just give them all the same copy. Easier for you. Do this a little bit at a time so it doesn't feel overwhelming.

    I would also make your entire collection available to at least one of the kids. Just in case there's a specific image somebody wants to find. Storage is cheap.

    Re: thumb drives: that's only good for a temporary solution, to hand the files over. You are right about worrying about keeping media corrupting. I keep my photos and important docs on an external harddrive (which I update every few years when it gets too old), and a backup on the cloud. I'm extremely nervous about corruption of physical media, fire and theft so hence the backup.

    Feathers11 thanked SeattleMCM
  • l pinkmountain
    8 days ago

    Oh yes, that's another one of my projects, storing my actual photo albums in fireproof containers. So far I haven't found a system I like. These fireproof boxes are so big, so I have them in packets but they are weird . . . and also bulky.

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  • beaglesdoitbetter
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    I love Mixbook for making albums. They will fill in the books for you or you can do it yourself and add custom captions, etc. Then you can pay to have them printed out, and they come out like a regular hardback book.

    I've made a Big Book of Bastian each year (he has 2 so far and I am working on the 3rd). Each one is like 300 pages with photos of everything throughout the year and then I add things like a lock of hair from his first hair cut. I'm working on Arya's already as well,.

    In the end, they will each have 18 books documenting their childhood. IDK if they will ever look at them, but it's kind of like an encyclopedia of their lives and maybe they will flip through some day... or not, but I will enjoy them. There are a lot of duplicates in Arya's already because I take pictures of her and B together and they make it into both books.

    You could digitize yours with a scanner and use a program like that to easily make a photo book. That's easier to store than tons of individual pictures.

    Feathers11 thanked beaglesdoitbetter
  • Feathers11
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Thanks, everyone. I've taken something from each post here, and I'd love to respond to each of you for sharing what you have. It's late, though, so I'm going to offer my general takeaways.

    Today I walked to a business up the street that does photo restoration, etc., to see if they could access the photos on my USB flash drive. They could not, unfortunately. Not the end of the world (it was a small amount of photos from a specific experience that I believe I can get copies from the photographer). They recommended that I back up photos to a disk drive. I had no idea that these flash drives have such a limited life.

    Another friend recommended an external hard drive like Seattle's method, which I'm going to do, because, initially, that's do-able for me just to get my digital photos in one place. And I'm going to get a scanner for the developed photos and inherited photos. My plan is still to curate the "best of the best" for my kids, and I've gotten some ideas above on how to do that. And I hadn't considered duplicates! I'm not sure why that escaped me.

    The little loss of the flash drive photos is like my wake-up call that I have to address this, because this is something I'll regret if I don't. It's not the boxes of photos, but the digital ones that are more easily lost. Time is the key factor, obviously. And since I doubt Localeater will lend me her DH for this project (or... would you? ;-) I'm going to just schedule time in my calendar to do this, probably an hour or 2 a week, which is how I find projects like this manageable.

  • hhireno
    7 days ago

    Easiest method: tell the kids ”Here are all our photos, you have until 12/31/22 to pick out what you want. The remainer go in the trash 1/1/23.”

  • Allison0704
    7 days ago

    @beaglesdoitbetter even if your children never look at them again, down the road their SO will.


    I've been making the grandchildren photobooks since they were born. I find only one or two (three tops) photos per page in an 8x8 book is enough. Otherwise, they get too small to see. Our 2yo granddaughter loves to look at DD2's wedding album and pointing out people she knows.


    If you own a scanner that has worked well for this purpose, please tell us what they are. I've been considering purchasing one (easier than going to my cloffice and scanning on large multi-function machine). I am the keeper of photos from numerous generations, and I sure would like to scan.


    When my parents died, I took all of Mom's photo albums and boxes of loose photos to my house. I tossed most of their travel photos, but kept those with them and/or family. After taking what I wanted and giving others to my sister, my two girls went through and got what they wanted. I put some in DS photo box since he didn't want to go through. DD2 took her photos. I still have DS's box.

  • Lars
    7 days ago

    My recommendation for a scanner is the Epson Perfection V600. In general, I like Epson scanners, and they are easy to use, have the option for negatives and slides, and have a high resolution.

    I bought my first scanner in 1995, and back then they were very slow. My first one was HP.

  • czarinalex
    7 days ago

    I ended up with all of my parents photos. A huge box. Last summer I went through the entire lot. Ruthlessly tossed about 75%. Blurry, duplicates, travel pics, people I didn't know, etc. All in the trash. And all the negatives as well. Then I chose about 100 pics of my parents, relatives, 4 siblings and trips we took. I used my cell phone and took a picture of each one. Created a zip drive for each of my siblings and uploaded them to our cloud storage. I still have to go through the pics that didn't make the first cut and decide if I want to save any of those.

    I was a scrapbooker for a short time(and owned an online scrapbook supply store for 10 years). I have 6 completed scrapbooks.

    2 years ago, I went through all our family photos. I bought a large photo album for each of my children and filled each with over 200 photos. Gave them as a Christmas present that year.

    This summer, I will be assessing my personal photo albums. I'm going to fill those albums with my favorite photos and then toss everything else.

  • Allison0704
    7 days ago

    Thank you, Lars. I'm going to look up and order since you've had a good experience with it. I also have slides. Part of my parents' wedding photos are in a purple satin lined case with a hand held steroscope that backilghts the double photos. Very cool to see them 3D, from 1955.

  • dedtired
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Not only do I have hundreds of my own photos, a huge box of family photos going back generations, i also have miles and miles of home movies. My dad loved taking movies and I followed suit.

    I had the home movies transferred first to videotapes and then to Cds. I had copies of my dad’s movies made for my sister and brother. I had a copy of our home movies for each of my sons.

    One time i went through my photos and sorted them by year and wrote names and dates on them. They are not all done and I ran out of steam,

    . I did toss a lot. Ugh, what a chore and i am not sure anyone cares, especially since neither one of my sons has kids, so they are the end of the line. Maybe my great nieces and nephews will find some interest in the others.

    Its just so darn hard to toss them.

  • bpath
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    My father and grandfather took so many pictures and movies! When i emptied their house, I found soooo much more than I expected. Right now they fill a 6‘-wide 4-shelf unit in the storage unit. A couple of projecters and slide sorters, too. I’ll never get through all of them, but I can’t bring myself to toss them until I actually see them. I’d love to see the movies and pictures from the ’20s.

    My mom’s family didn’t have as many photos, and my mom’s box of photos was destroyed in a flood. I did find some that survived. I’m going to take them on my next visit with her sister to identify people and events, if she can.

    Transferring all the movies would be expensive, i’d like to just watch them first, but I’m not sure about the state of the film, or of the projectors. I’ve never operated the reel-to-reel projectors and I’m sure I’d break something.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    7 days ago

    I hope my children never compare notes with the children of competent mothers who provide them with themed photo albums. It's never going to happen for mine. They were born while prints were super cheap to develop at Costco and then grew into children as digital came on board. I have too many pictures. My boys all look alike according to most people, two of them can unlock one another's phones with their faces, so hiring out the task will be interesting, but frankly, it's my only hope.

  • runninginplace
    7 days ago

    Ah, photos. I've never been good at organizing my own which ended up stuffed in lots of cardboard boxes-many still in the photo envelopes from back in the day when you got em printed at Walgreens or CVS.


    I also took all of the photo albums and loose photos when we cleared my MIL's house.


    And last year when my dad died I took HIS photos when we cleared the house.


    I've started going through them and as others have done, I was pretty clear about dumping certain categories. I do not save vacation pictures, or pictures of friends and friend gatherings. For some reason my MIL was extremely fond of taking pictures of rooms and household objects she had-gone.


    I took pictures out of albums and then loosely started organizing them in photo boxes, usually grouped by families and/or individuals.


    I use Shutterfly to make photo albums and I do enjoy that process. I made one of my BIL's life in pictures for what turned out to be his last Christmas, and he was very moved by seeing a lot of images that he'd not viewed in many years.


    Have done an album for my son in law of baby/childhood pictures of my daughter, which he also seemed to like. Still want to do my son's equivalent for my DIL--they dealt with infertility for several years so I didn't know if she would want to see lots of baby pictures but now they've had their daughter so I will probably do that for Christmas.


    I do struggle with discarding pictures of my kids; it's just so damn difficult to throw away their images, even the ones that are blurry or not well composed.


    I'm not generally very sentimental but photos are an exception, I am so reluctant to see entire batches of family images tossed out. And at least unlike furniture or other large objects they don't take up huge amounts of space!

  • Allison0704
    7 days ago

    I know what you mean, runningplace, but I would rather toss or burn photos than have them end up in an antique store. That always makes me sad for the person in the photo.


    I have my paternal grandfather's letters he wrote to his mother and youngest sister (he was next to youngest of 13 children) when he was overseas in WWI (yes, WWI). I scanned and sent to close relatives so they could have copies. Things like that I will most likely keep, then DD2 will have to deal with them. At some point, they will get tossed by someone.

  • beaglesdoitbetter
    7 days ago

    The Mixbook books aren't the traditional photo books (although you can get those from the site if you want). I chose to make like actual large books so they are literally like encyclopedias.


    I really love their software, You can do a lot of custom graphics (like the page below which is from B's first year book). I spend a lot of time on these, probably more than is justified, but I really enjoy doing it.