How to Organize Old Family Photos


how to organize photos by family line video chicagoAs a Video Biographer, my clients often tell me they’re overwhelmed by all their old family photos. If you grew up before the digital age, you can probably relate – especially if you were born in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, as many of my clients were.

After recently helping my 80 year old mother sort through a few thousand photos of her own, I finally feel my client’s pain and sufficiently vetted to offer a few tips on how to organize photos.

Tips for Organizing Photos

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!

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

Sorting and Filing

  1. Label every bag with a year and every box or shopping bag with a decade.
  2. On the table or large surface area, separate photos into piles by years or estimated time periods. Rubber band event groupings together when necessary.
  3. When a year is complete or pile too big, insert photos into their ziploc bag and place the ziploc bag into it’s decade box or shopping bag.

Now that everything is neatly sorted, it will be easier to whittle down the numbers.

Weeding and Labeling

  1. Spread out the photos from one year or grouping.
  2. Discard those that are redundant, duplicates or simply bad shots.
  3. Identify favorites and label the backs with names, dates, location and event 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 until you are content with the quantity and selection of every year and event.

Once the photos are pared down, have them digitally scanned so everyone can have a set!


~ Family Documentaries ~

Capture your family stories in a Family Documentary Video for your children, grandchildren and generations beyond to know and cherish.

Family History Activities Life Videos by Family Line VideoHere at Family Line Video, we produce Family Documentaries, modern-day memoirs that weave filmed interviews with a parent or grandparent, together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia to bring stories and history to life.

Your stories are too important to leave to lose.

Preserve them today in a Family Documentary and give your family a gift they will treasure for generations to come.

Learn More


Family Line Video, LLC
Family Documentary Production

Susan Saunders
Owner/Video Biographer

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