Printed Photos, Memorabilia & Scanning


  • Identify work space: Ideally a room with a door – but not your bedroom. An area where you are free to leave out your photos and they will not be disturbed.
  • Gather everything into your work space. Here are some ideas of places to look: Attic, Garage, Bedrooms Cabinets, Drawers, Closets, Scrapbooks, Storage Units, Yearbooks, Other family members.
  • Take  an inventory. Write down everything you have.
  • Identify your project goal: Photo books, Slideshow Collages/Wall Arts, Slideshow, Framed Wall Display, Calendars/photo cards 
  • Gather Supplies: Archival Photo Boxes, Notebook, Sticky Notes, Tape, Index Cards (to use as dividers, taking notes, or as your labels) Sorting containers – Pens or markers (for labeling the index cards and the sticky notes) Photo Pens or pencils for writing dates or a few words on the back of photos, Tape (to adhere the index cards to your sorting containers) White cotton gloves, Photo spatula (to assist in removing photos from adhesive albums) (See RESOURCES)
  • Determine your sort method - gather sorting containers and label according to the method you decide on - for example if you decide on themes you will label your container as follows: Vacations, Reunions, School Years, etc. If Chronological, 1) Sort loosely by year 2) Review the photos to eliminate duplicates and poor-quality photos 3) Put your favorite photos into one box and the rest into another box 
  • Create an atmosphere you like – set up some music, make sure the area is well lit, have a good size working table, and a comfortable chair – or chairs if additional people will be involved.
  • Set a timer: This can be tiring work, so set a timer for 1-3 hours maximum and take breaks.

  • How will you manage the collection of printed photos in albums? Photos should be removed from traditional photo albums and add to your loose photos, especially if you plan on scanning your collection. Or, you can scan pages from scrapbooks and leave the original album as-is. 
  • Create a Timeline: Include dates of birth, death and marriages. Include the years children were born and what years family pets were in the picture.

The ABS's of Photo Organizing

Simple Steps for Sorting Printed Photos

   Deciding what to keep can be overwhelming. Following a few simple guidelines can make this process easier by using the ABCs of photo organizing to stay on track.

A stands for Album

These photos are the best of the best! The ones that belong in an album, the ones that you would mourn
if you lost them in a disaster, such as a fire or flood. These are the photos that you’ll want to scan, digitize, back up and display. It doesn’t mean we’re going to put all these photos into albums, it just means
they are “album worthy”. 

B stands for Box

These photos are the extras that support your best. They are the ones you aren’t ready to part with but want to have access to at some point in the future. These photos will be archived for safe-keeping but not necessarily digitized. 

C stands for Can

Yes, you CAN re-purpose these photos or throw them in the trashcan. Our collections are filled with doubles, triples and REALLY BAD photos. Toss duplicates, blurry or unflattering photos, excess scenery photos, etc. This is the hardest, but yes, you can throw photos away! It’s easy to get frozen in place by too many photos. If it seems too hard, put them in a separate bag and go back later to sort them.

S stands for Story

This is the most important part. Even if the photo isn’t the best picture does it tell a STORY? An old blurry photo may have your Dad’s first car in the background! Be careful you aren’t tossing history.

Sorting Photos

Our natural tendency is to sort chronologically, but with today’s high volume of photos it can be overwhelming. Choose to organize in themes that represent your life (weddings, vacations, sports, heritage, by child, pets, school, Christmas, birthdays, etc.) Themes are easier to identify than dates and easier to pull together for an album. Start with the present and work backwards. 

Chronological order already in place? Keep it! You can still identify themes, and group photos based on your end goal. 




Additional Information

Digitizing your media is one of the most important steps you can take to secure your memory collection. 


Scanning extends the lifetime of your photo: Your printed photos are decaying and deteriorating even under optimum storage conditions. When you make a digital copy, you have the ability to enhance the image, restore it to its original color and fix damaged photos. 

Scanning creates a backup of your printed images.

Scanning increases your ability to share and enjoy your photos.  When you have digital copies of your photos (and your albums), your printed photos can be shared via social media and online photo archives. Printed photos, children’s artwork, letters, report cards, greeting cards, any type of memorabilia can be digitized and memorialized! Even 3D items! Once scanned, photos are digitized and can be made into photo books and gifts just like your digital photos!  


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