How to Collate Your Old Photograph Stash

How many times have you tried to find a particular photo but, after hunting everywhere it still eludes you? Having fewer photographs stored meaningfully and with easy access, are better than a mass of images hidden away in various old boxes.

My great grandparents taken during WW1

This is Part 3 of a system for sorting, digitising and decluttering old boxes of photographs. Part one is here. Part two is here.

After sorting all the photographs into the KEEPERS and OTHERS box (previous post) my task became rather more strategic.

I listed specific individuals and occasions within the following groupings:

  • Key family members (Mum, Dad, Siblings, Nieces etc)
  • Extended family (Grandparents, aunts, cousins etc)
  • Special friends (A, B, C etc)
  • Key family Events (Birthdays, Weddings, Holidays etc)
  • Important Places (we lived in, we visited)
  • Historical (Images that placed someone at a historical moment or a historical place)

Round three – taking the KEEPERS, I carefully sorted photographs into piles according to the list.


And also added separate piles of:

  • Couples or Pairs
  • Family groups
  • Groups of friends

Post it Notes, elastic bands and old envelopes were great for labelling and keeping piles together – especially as this took several sessions, with numerous interruptions. 

Dilemma: Those photos of people from the past for whom there is painful history?

Some examples: ex-partners; a ‘disgraced’ family member; friendships that faded; traumatic events like a car accident. I’m not just referring to relationships that you or I have a personal attachment to but such photographs that might create awkwardness for other family members if present in a collection.

Trying to make decisions whether to keep them or not is emotional and fraught with hooks. I placed ours to one side – in a labelled pile FOR ANOTHER TIME – in order to concentrate on getting the bigger task done.

Next post: The Final collection of Old Photographs to Keep






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