The challenge of getting those family photos in order

Family photo collections often include many types of prints handed down from distant relatives, and large numbers of photos, negatives and digital images from more recent times. Some people have organised and managed their family photos over the years and continue to do so with a variety of software tools and internet services. However, the natural tendency is for the photos to accumulate in envelopes and drawers, and computers and phones, often to get thrown away or to be otherwise lost to the family. Reversing this tendency and assembling a large set of family photos into an organised, accessible and durable collection is not simple and is very time consuming.

There are three main aspects to address – the physical images and negatives, digitisation of the images, and indexing. For each aspect there are lots of different ways of doing things, and there’s lots of advice and software available. However, this journey will explore the practical problems that I encounter and the solutions I come up with. These may not necessarily be the best way of doing things – but they are solutions that work. I actually started doing this many years ago and am now close to finishing, so what is documented here is fairly well tried and tested.

In addition to actually organising the collection, I often wonder why I’m bothering to do it and why people take photographs and keep them at all. So, this journey will also be exploring those questions as well.