Dealing with photos/memory/life history

I decided to start trying to deal with a couple of huge boxes of photos and other life history memorabilia today. UGH! Now I’m feeling totally overwhelmed. How do you decide what to keep/try to archive? I’m more or less ok with throwing out poor quality photos (unless they are of an event or people I don’t have other documentation of) or most of the scenery shots from trips I took. Probably will throw out the photos of people I was in relationships with that ended badly (the nice people I will keep!).

I’m kind of tempted just to throw it all back in the boxes again and deal with it in another 5-10 years! But I have access to a good quality scanner now, which I might not later. And I don’t really need to keep moving 20-30 lbs of photographic detritus around with me as I have done the last 30 years…

On top of my own stuff, I also have a certain amount of stuff from my mom and grandma. Family history, mostly. That feels a bit burdensome, but at least a bit less emotional.


Quite a few years ago my mom made photo albums for my brother, sister and I. There are a few pictures of each person, but not a lot. It’s really a good way to have some of my family history and a way to remember extended family members without taking up lots of space. But I am not very close with aunts/uncles/cousins, so it’s plenty for me.


I think 2 years agoish I bought a few nice albums including some that had full page sections and transferred photos into the albums. I got rid of a lot of photos, for school and friend pictures of keep one of a group - sometimes 2-3 pictures out of 2-3 rolls detailing a weekend trip. Family I kept almost all. Exes I kept very few, but of life events. I put a lot of drawings and things into the full page ones.

I look at the albums more than I ever looked at the pictures or old albums. Now my intention is to print some more recent pictures to include. I think I’m at 2-3 albums. If I end my life with 10-15 I will think it’s well worth it. But I could also see choosing to limit to just one or just digital.

Going slowly and taking breaks was necessary for me


Going through all our old photos is a project I’d like to tackle this year so I’m following along with interest. We’ve already lost some of our old-old photos so I don’t have much from my college years. Not sure what my parents have laying around - that’s a whole other mess, I’ll tackle my own home first.

I’m also dealing with family photos this year. Got a start with a box of random pix in a box I inherited from Dad, who died over a decade ago! So I’m in no better shape, really, ha!

Since I haven’t started scanning yet, my plan is to just scan everything and try to keep that part as divorced from emotion as possible. We’ll see how that goes once I start scanning, I guess. So just muscling through regardless of emotions is a tactic.

After that, I want to get the photos on a website or blog, and have the larger family help with sorting. Maybe a voting system for what to keep? But there are also many undated photos, so trying to get those in some sort of order is also daunting. Trying to recruit help is a tactic.

There’s also two decades of photos while married to my butt head ex. I’m not ready to even look at those. So only tackling a portion is one of the tactics.

Finally: many breaks and application of chocolate.

Can I ask what scanner you are using?

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We have an epson perfection 4990 – it is probably at least 10 years old (we had it in China) so there are probably better quality ones out there now. It has a slide scanning function (that I have to figure out how to work after I deal with the photos).