Do you have boxes of photos, videos, and other media sitting around your home, vulnerable to the elements? You’re not alone - it’s quite common for people to inherit photo and media collections from loved ones, often thrown in a box without proper storage considerations to preserve those precious family memories. Maybe you’re considering getting those photos organized and cataloged for the family, but the task seems overwhelming and daunting. If this sounds like your situation, it might be reassuring to know that your collection can get organized and become accessible for you, your family, and future generations. Knowing where to begin is often the largest obstacle - here are some tips for getting started:
Imagine your ideal situation
Before getting started with a large project, it’s helpful to take a look at the big picture and imagine what your ideal situation looks like when you’re done. This acts as a compass to lead you through. Think of your own life as well as your family history as a series of stories, and how you’d like to tell them. How do you picture yourself and your family accessing your photos, videos, and other memorabilia? The options are seemingly endless, but what matters most is that you choose options that work best for you and your family. Some ways people like to honor their memories are:
Hunt and Gather
Many people have inherited photos, slides, film reels, and family documents from loved ones who have passed, and as a result, these are squirreled away in little pockets throughout the house. Before starting, I believe it’s best to gather everything you’d like to organize into one central location, and this includes digital media. For digital media, do your best to get everything onto one computer, with at least one backup. If that’s not possible, do your best to list and locate the devices that are holding media. You may need to have conversations with family members - for example, if your sibling has all the slides from a family trip long ago, let them know of your plans. Who knows, you might even get help with your project!
Sort by Media Type
Group by type - all photos together, slides, film reels, VHS, correspondences, family history documents, and digital formats. This crucial step will be your way of taking inventory of each category - your big picture view. Getting a good look at everything helps you decide how you want to break this large project down into smaller, more manageable projects. Choosing the format you’re most eager to work with could be a good jumping off point - we have to start somewhere!
Have you gotten your family photos and memorabilia in order, or is this a project for your to-do list? What does your ideal situation look like? I’d love to hear from you!