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.