Curating A Collection of Old Photos to Keep


Getting to a small, manageable and orderly collection of photographs was, for me, liberating and it motivated me to work carefully through this next stage.

I got to here with my sorting and now worked with individual piles of KEEPERS.

Each pile contains photographs of only one event or person (except the groups). It became apparent by the quantities that some people are more photogenic than others!

I spread each pile in turn, out on a surface to analyse the images with the intent of keeping the best, if possible, and decluttering some more. Choosing was hard but it helped to have this criteria for the overall collection:

  • Show what individual relatives looked like
  • Indicate something of their personalities
  • Have group shots that show relationships between the individuals
  • Have a variety of ages/stages of each person
  • Record important events
  • Give insight into how life was ‘back in the day’
  • Have a balance of quantities i.e. not heaps of photos of one person but very few of others.

These are historical documents – other generations will inherit them – so keeping a note of all known names, dates and places is important.

Oh the fashions of the 70s!!


Inevitably, ‘gaps’ began to appear in the collection – it became apparent that certain important people were missing from the KEEPERS piles. This necessitated a rummage through the OTHERS box and sometimes even the NOT NEEDED box in order to ensure these individuals were represented in the family archives. Consequently some faded or out of focus images crept into the collection.

Dilemma: The fate of those who hated having their photos taken


Sometimes there were no flattering images of particular people because they hated having their photo taken. Alas their dislike of the camera compounds the problem because sometimes the only pictures of them were with facial grimaces or in awkward escape poses. But for completion of the collection, a look through the rejects was required to find the least embarrassing ones … so more blurred or inferior quality photos crept into the collection.

I’ve got my collection now what?

Getting to this stage was a real achievement – it took determination and persistence!  Then I had to overcome the technical conundrums of digitising them.

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