Organized Photos: What’s the fuss all about?

As a professional photograph organizer, I get excited about photo organizing but I realize that many people wonder what all the fuss is about.

A few years ago I gave a presentation that addressed this exact point. To set the stage for the importance of photo organization, I shared a challenge with the audience. I asked everyone to stand up and then stated the following directives:

Stay standing if you know the first and last names of your parents.
    No one sat down.
Stay standing if you know the names of all your grandparents.
    No one sat down.
Stay standing if you know the names of all of your great-grandparents.
    About 65% of the people sat down.
Stay standing if you know the names of your great-great-grandparents.
    Three people remained standing.

Wow! By failing to preserve our family stories, it is probable that our great-grandchildren will not even know our names! This was a powerful realization for me and I hope it is eye-opening for you too. My goal is to prevent this scenario from occurring.

These days we all have the capability of leaving behind a genealogical presence. Read on for my top five reasons people don’t organize their photos and my top five motivations to encourage you to preserve your family’s photographic legacy.

Top Five Reasons People Don’t Organize Their Photos

Let’s face it – having boxes and boxes of miscellaneous family photos dating back over a lifetime can be a daunting task to consider organizing. People have a whole range of reasons why they simply aren’t able to take on the task. Here are the top five reasons I’ve heard over and over:

#1. They are overwhelmed at the sheer number of photos they have.

People can be understandably overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of printed photos they have in their collection and how mixed up they might be. A lifetime of printed photos can often encompass several large boxes crammed full of disorganized photos. You might have even inherited your parents’ disorganized boxes of photos too.

Do you want your kids to inherit all that mess without any clue who the people in the photos are? Of course not! Why let your family history fade into obscurity? The good news is that help is available.

#2. They are convinced that their kids won’t want their family photos.

I’ve heard potential clients tell me time and again that they truly believe their kids and grandkids won’t want their family photos. The truth is, your kids don’t want the mess, especially if they don’t have any idea who all those strangers are. But in fact they DO want their family history if it is presented in a meaningful way. They absolutely do want your story.

#3 They are embarrassed at the messy state of their photo collection.

Often people are embarrassed because they never did anything with the photos while their kids were young. It’s common to be ambivalent about showing our messes to others so big projects get put off, swept under the proverbial rug. The good news is, it’s not too late! Photo organizers expect to receive messes. Put your embarrassment on the shelf and reach out for help without a flicker of shame. We love making order out of those messy boxes!

#4 They simply don’t have the time for such a big project.

Many people just don’t have the time to take on such a big project. Between business meetings, carpools, kids’ homework, making dinner, keeping up with the house, spending quality time with spouses and other loved ones, and a hundred other important activities, it is the most understandable thing in the world if you can’t take on another big project. It’s common to think “I’ll get to it someday” and set it aside for a less busy, stressful time. Spoiler alert: This NEVER HAPPENS.

This project is too important to put it off for the fictional “someday”. I love this quote: “There are 7 days in a week. Someday isn’t one of them.” You simply can’t let your photo legacy slip through the cracks if your family history is going to be passed down in a meaningful way. But there’s good news! Help is available. You don’t have to do it by yourself. 

#5 They are worried about the bittersweet memories.
 Some people don’t want to delve into those boxes of photo memories because they expect it to be a bittersweet process seeing people who have passed away. It is absolutely true that organizing your photo collection can be a very emotional process. The good news is that the happy memories will outweigh the sad ones. I’ve seen it time and again and I promise you, the happy memories will prevail.

Keep in mind that your kids will remember you and they will likely remember their grandparents, but do they know much about YOUR grandparents? What happens when YOU are the great-grandparent that no one remembers? An organized photo legacy will ensure that everyone is memorialized properly. It’s worth wading through the bittersweet memories to make that happen.

Top Five Motivations to Encourage You to Organize Your Photo Collection

#1 To preserve your family photo legacy.

Hopefully I’ve established that having a photographic legacy to leave to your children and grandchildren is the #1 motivation to start the process of organizing your photo collection. Your children don’t need your clutter, but they really do want your story. It’s part of their story too. It’s a huge job certainly, but the key is to break it down into manageable tasks. Start with this one: Find all your photos and gather them in one physical location. For digital photos, remember the nooks and crannies like text messages, instant messages, email attachments and social media accounts. Once you have all your photos, both digital and printed, in one place, you can begin the process of organizing and preserving them for your family legacy. Congrats, you’re on your way!

#2 Be able to find photos quickly.

My 2nd biggest motivation for organizing your photo collection is to be able to find the photo you want quickly and easily. During the organization process, I tag every person in every photo. This makes your photo collection easily searchable. I once received a call from a client whose 96-year-old mother passed away and needed photos to print for the memorial service. I was able to walk her through the process over the phone. She was quickly able to find what she needed. This alleviated some of the stress during an emotional time. Wouldn’t you love to be able to find that one certain photo at any time? With an organized photo collection, that dream becomes a reality.

#3 Be able to share your photos easily.

My 3rd biggest motivation for organizing your photo collection is the ability to easily share your photos with family members and friends. Your organized photos will be edited to the “best of the best” photos in your collection. By reducing the quantity of photos, you will have the ability to tell your story in a much more manageable and meaningful way. I call it “right sizing” your collection. Imagine, as a result of downsizing your collection, how much simpler the scanning process will be. Start by removing all duplicates. Set them aside to share with others. Then you can have your best photos scanned into digital format and share the digital photos easily with family and friends.

#4 Walk down memory lane.

Your photo legacy isn’t just for your children and grandchildren. Walking down memory lane is like chicken soup for the soul. Unfortunately, our old printed photos are often in such disarray, it is daunting to even try and look at them. Creating an organized photo collection will restore order to your printed photos so they are easy to flip through. This sounds like an overwhelming goal but breaking it down into small tasks will get the job done one step at a time. Start by organizing one small box of photos this month. (Check out my ABCs of photo organizing to get you started.) Alternatively, if you just don’t have a single minute to spare, reach out to a certified photo organizer. This will begin the process of having a professional create a beautiful, organized photo collection for you. You can contact me for an a phone consultation or find an photo organizer near you on The Photo Managers website.

#5 Keep your photos secure.

Once all of your printed photos have been digitized, it is absolutely mandatory to establish a secure backup system for your photo collection. Set up a reliable backup system using the 3, 2, 1 backup rule. Always keep 3 copies of your photos and videos, on 2 different media, with 1 stored off site. Refresh your backups monthly, including all of your family’s digital devices (computers, phones, tablets, digital cameras, etc.). This will ensure your precious memories are safe and secure.

I hope I’ve convinced you that an organized photo collection is both an attainable goal and an essential project to undertake right away whether you do it yourself or hire it done. I promise, you won’t be sorry and neither will your children and grandchildren. A curated and shared photo collection is a gift that keeps on giving.

Hear more from Bonnie at the 2024 Friends Connection Forum on September 18-19, 2024 at Willow Valley Communities.  She will be one of our speakers.  

Share This

Leave a Reply

Subscribe Via Email

Font Resizer

Author Spotlight