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 1930’s, 40’s or 50’s, as many of my clients did.

I finally felt my client’s angst after recently helping my mother sort through a few thousand photos of her own. But along the way I learned a few tips on how to organize old family photos that I now pass olong.

Organizing Old Family Photos

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 or envelopes 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 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 together or place in an envelope event groupings.
  3. When a year is complete or a pile too big, insert photos into their ziploc bag and place the ziploc bag into it’s decade box or shopping bag.

Now that your old family photos are 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. You can then distribute them among family members or post the most important ones to a family website.

Your old family photos are windows into your family history. Preserving them now means they will be enjoyed for generations to come.

~ Legacy Videos ~

Give your parent or grandparent the gift of a lifetime by capturing their life story for your family to know and celebrate!

Grandparent Games by Family Line video ChicagoHere at Family Line Video we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview 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 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

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Family Line Video, LLC
Legacy Video Production

Susan Saunders
Owner/Video Biographer

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Old Family Photos

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