How to Organize Old Family Photos

Old Family Photos by Family Tree Video

If you grew up before the digital age you likely feel overwhelmed by the number of old family photos you have stored in boxes and albums. As a Legacy Video producer, my clients remark on this often.

I finally felt their angst after helping my mother sort through a lifetime of her own photos. Along the way I discovered a number of tips that I now share with my clients to help them organize hundreds (or thousands!) of old family photos.

Organizing Old Family Photos

What you will need
A large table or surface area work space, large ziploc bags, a permanent marker, a number 2 pencil and at least 8 shoe boxes or shopping bags.

The key!
Work fast so you aren’t bogged down by memories and your dining table isn’t covered for months on end. You will have plenty of time to reminisce after the photos are organized.

Sorting and Filing

  1. Label each ziploc bag with a year and every box (or shopping bag) with a decade.
  2. On the table, sort your photos into piles by year or estimated time period.
  3. When a year is complete or a pile too big, insert the photos into the corresponding ziploc bag.
  4. Place the ziploc bag into the box (or shopping bag) marked with its decade.

Once your old family photos are sorted by time period, it will be easier to whittle down the numbers.

Whittling and Labeling

  1. Spread out the photos from one year.
  2. Discard ones that are redundant, duplicates or poor shots.
  3. Identify favorites and label the backs with names, dates, locations and events using a number 2 pencil. Replace in their respective bag.
  4. Move on to the next year until you make your way through all the bags.
  5. Repeat the whittling process until you are content with the quantity and selection of every year and event.

Once your old family photos are pared down, have them digitally scanned. That way they can be shared with family members.

Your old family photos are windows into your family history. Preserving them now means preserving your family story for future generations to know.

~ Legacy Videos ~

Give your parent or grandparent the gift of a lifetime by capturing their life story and family history in a Legacy Video!

Legacy Videos by Family Tree Video

Here at Family Tree Video we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview with a parent or grandparent together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “moving portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story, family history and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.

To learn more about giving the gift of a Legacy Video, visit us at

Family Tree Video LLC
Legacy Video Production
(312) 402-6406

Susan Saunders

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‘Family Photos’

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Old Family Photos
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Old Family Photos

Old Family Photos

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