Is Your Family Photo Collection Dying a Slow Death?

Is Your Family Photo Collection Dying a Slow Death?

Ever since the introduction of the Kodak Box camera in 1888, billions of paper photos have been taken. What ever happened to them all?

Photos not already lost are in an active state of deterioration, eventually headed for the trash heap unless we act now rather than later.

4 Risk Factors to Family Photo Collections

Whether or not we are part of the problem or part of the solution will determine if our kids have a record of their family history. But even more than that, we all risk the opportunity cost of getting to know our parents and grandparents on a deeper level. When we put off breathing new life into our photo collections – the family history is diminished as memories fade.


Where do you stand with your photo collection?

Are you continuing to do nothing?

If your photos are still in a box in the basement where humidity is high or in closets or desk drawers where insects and time will wear them down you need to scan them or get us to do it for you.

Are you leaving your photos in photo albums?

If your photos bond or stick to the plastic photo protectors, are losing color, turning blue, brown or yellow you need to scan them now and have the colors adjusted before any further loss.

Are you annotating photos?

Have you have not yet annotated who is in the pictures, where they were taken and when they were taken you are risking that over time you and your kids and grand kids will not recognize anyone and will throw them out with the trash since no one can any longer relate to the photos. While we cannot annotee for you we can scan them and upload them to a free online account at OurStoriesAreUs where you and other family members can add this information collabortively.

Are you dividing up family pictures among the kids?

This may not kill off the collection completely but will dilute its value as some will care for their portion more than others. Divided up, the collection is diminished as it no longer tells the larger family story. If your inherited photos have already been distributed among family members consider having everyone scan them and give each other copies. Alternatively we can scan them all for you and return them to the respective family member. You can also share the cost of scanning.

Why should you care about the family photo collection?

Some people don’t care but due the fact that many people cannot bear to just throw away the photos is evidence that there is something important about keeping them. It isn’t hard to figure out. All those photos represent a part of our history. They remind us of our loved ones, those both those living and those who have passed. They provide a hint as to how we came to be and they are a part of our story.


What it takes to preserve the family photo collection? 

  • Digitize (scan) the photos or have a younger member of the family help or use a service such as
  • Give other family members copies of the scans on CD so the photos do not get diluted giving everyone a complete set.
  • Add information about the photos describing who is in the photo, when it was taken, where it was taken. This adds value to each photo, making each photo more important and less likely to be discarded.
  • Interview the people in the photos about their life experiences during the respective time period. If they are no longer alive, interview someone who knew them or knows the story. This adds additional dimension and value to the photos.

If a structured process with plenty of tools will help you get started, you should try   Use individual stand-alone modules one at a time or all together to conduct interviews, share photos, create family trees, record oral histories and breath life into your family photo collection. This is a sure way to ensure your memories and the memories of your loved ones live on for future generations. 

Achieving “Favorite Child” status

Achieving “Favorite Child” status

It turns out that nearly half of moms Regift, Return or Throw Away their Mother’s Day Presents.

 According to a May 11, 2017 article in AdWeek

“Of the 48 percent of moms who admitted to deep-sixing their presents, 15 percent re gifted them, 12 percent returned them, 10 percent donated them, 7 percent sold them—and 4 percent simply threw them out. But among the survey’s findings, perhaps this one was most telling: Twenty percent of moms said they’d rather spend quality time with their children than receive anything that comes in a box…”

Mother’s Day is an annual celebration and it is difficult year in and year out to get something completely unique all the time. But when you can, you should.

Check out three suggestions available here at that will put you in the drivers seat and establish you firmly as –

“the favorite child”.

How well do you know your parents?

How well do you know your parents?

Maybe not as well as you think.

“Do you know where your children are” was a popular public service announcement (PSA) that ran back in the late 1960s when there were youth curfews all across the country. Those children, now aging baby boomers, may need watching again, by their children.

On one of my infrequent trips through Pensacola, FL I dropped in on my 80-year-old parents who were in good health and ok financially. They made a passing remark that they felt they were a burden on society (receiving social security and a Navy pension).  They said they were no longer making a contribution to society and that life was for the young.  While this was presented more as a passing comment I realized that the underlying message may have more serious ramifications. I feared that if they lost their sense of value that maybe life, in their minds, was not worth living.

Do you know what your parents and grandparents are really thinking and feeling when you are not around?  I suggest that you may not. In my case, everything appeared fine when I visited them. I knew this because they lit up when I showed up on their door step and were therefore in great spirits (while I was there). I was unaware of how or what they were thinking and feeling when I was not around.

So, what is a son supposed to do when finding that his parents are questioning their value to society? Recognizing that Mom and Dad are uniquely qualified to review, reflect and share their life experiences, I set out on a mission to help them do just that by creating a private family web site where they could record their life experiences and reflect on the meaning of life as Dad had always been prone to do. I am happy to say that the family site and the process of creating it (by engaging Mom and Dad) did indeed help renew their sense of purpose as they felt they were doing something important for me and my siblings and all the grandchildren. Interviewing them for their stories was a very valuable and fulfilling bonding experience. It may actually have been one of the more important things that I have done in my life. My hope and belief is that it will impact yours as well when you help your parents document their stories.


Like me, you may find this to be one of the most important things you will have ever done.

Remember: Stories Left Untold are Legacies Gone Forever!

Memory Support

Memory Support

Memory Support

Our Stories Are Us offers recently diagnosed individuals exhibiting signs of dementia and their families an opportunity to connect in a structured, meaningful, loving and caring way.

Humans connecting with humans is the underlying value proposition of Our Stories Are Us as family members work together to document the family experience.  This makes it an important tool for the entire family from the moment a diagnosis is confirmed or suspected and potentially all the way through the later stages.

Early Onset Dementia and inter-generational bonding:

It is important to note that is not designed to just capture stories of a newly diagnosed dementia patient before their memories fade. This can look like an act of desperation. Rather, we offer an opportunity for a family to share each other’s stories. An example might be a grandchild asking the elderly adult what their life was like when they were their age. And the elderly asking the child about their experiences. An equal exchange results in each party learning more about the the other – strengthening the bond and creating new memories.

The family perspective: A diagnosis of early onset Alzheimers is traumatic for the entire family.  Everyone is at a loss as to how to interact naturally. Younger family members (who enjoy using computer technology) greatly benefit from a computer based structured, project oriented approach to interacting with the older adult in a meaningful and personal way. 

Our interview questionnaire generator, along with and a step by step story creation guide provides a meaningful engagement as the younger family member learns about the life and times of their older relative and helps them record that history leaving a legacy for generations.

Individuals with memory loss: Capturing stories of an elderly adult’s life experiences can provide a comfort level knowing that their life and contributions will not be forgotten. As family members work with them to document their stories has the added benefit of providing a sense of purpose, value and dignity during a trying time, knowing they are still important and are creating something for others.

The time spent together during a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s builds a stronger emotional connection which will be important as the disease advances to later stages.

This page was co-authored by Jeannine Forrest, Ph.D., R.N., CHPN, dementia educator / researcher (learn more about Jeannine at and Ken Bredemeier founder of Our Stories Are Us. I

Attention Memory Support Professionals

OurStoriesAreUs is looking for a research partner to explore the potential of using reminisce technology as both a therapeutic and diagnostic tool in the treatment and care of dementia. If you have an interest in this area please email us to start a conversation.
A Lesson of Regret

A Lesson of Regret

Questions that don’t get asked, don’t get answered. One of my greatest regrets was not having spent the time with Mom and Dad exploring their life experiences. My siblings and I were very fortunate that Mom and Dad anticipated us eventually having questions about their life experiences. They wrote a brief memoir. However, because I was too caught up in my own life to even realize that there was a heck of a lot more to Mom and Dad than that of a child’s perspective – I was left with a lot of unanswered (albeit unasked) questions.

Dad had served on the USS Frankford during WWII. This I knew. What I didn’t find out until after his death was a story about his ship on D-Day at the Normandy invasion, Dad was in the forward gun turret and like the other sailors throughout the ship was focused on his job. He was probably unaware of the bigger picture of the role that his ship played on that day never realizing the impact his ship had for the lives of many GI’s. I regert I was late in the research.

While it was regretful that Dad did not know the full story of that day, that wasn’t the worst of it. My research revealed that there had been reunions of his shipmates, some of which even met onboard the ship before it was mothballed. While Dad was not the most social guy, he would have loved to have revisited the ship, reconnected with some of his buddies and shown his family the ship he was on during the war.

Had I had more interest and time I would have been able to help connect Dad to his past and add some quality to both his life and mine as we shared his memories together. Plus, I’m sure we all would have had many more stories and more insights into that time of his life.

While this ship story is unique to Dad and his shipmates, your Dad, your mother,, your grandfathers and grandmothers all have stories as well.  Are you doing everything you can to not have to learn this lesson of regret? It is never too early to start. was designed to help you do it, one short story at a time.  Sign up now and help your parents and grandparents share their first story.