What To Do With Photos After Scanning

with 7 Comments
What to do with photos after scanning

You’ve scanned a box of photos and now what do you do with the original photos?

The problem of keeping everything

If you have a box or two or three of photos, keeping all the original photos after scanning them is a viable option. It’s small enough that your kids won’t feel overwhelmed when they inherit them, especially if they’re neatly organized. And then, eventually, your kids can decide what to do with them.

But if you’ve inherited boxes of photos from both sides of the family and they take up one whole wall in the spare bedroom, it isn’t reasonable to assume your kids will be delighted to inherit all those boxes.

So, somehow, there has to be a balance between keeping all the original photos and throwing them all away. I’m going to share my plan with you but I can’t make the decision for you, so consider what I have to say and then make your own decision.

Get rid of the junk

As I organize and scan each box of photos I’m going to toss the junk photos—pictures of landscapes or pictures from a cruise that have nothing to do with the family or just a really bad or blurry photo where you have no idea what it’s about. YOU’RE not interested in them and no one else will be interested either, so do your kids a favor and get rid of them now. They’re not even worth scanning.

Do your scanning next

Once I get rid of the junk I’ll scan the photos and work on turning them into shareable family stories—something family members can actually hold in their hands or watch on a computer.

In MY case I plan to do that with ALL my boxes of photos before I do anything with the paper photos, slides, negatives, and memorabilia. I scan and then put them back in the box nicely organized.

The reason I’m planning to wait is two-fold: I want to make sure everything is fully backed up in multiple places, online and offline, and that everyone in the family who wants them has a copy of the finished stories and has access to the scanned photos and that’s going to take awhile.

I don’t want to jump the gun. I’d rather put up with the boxes a little while longer and make sure I don’t have any regrets. You may not want to wait that long. I’m just telling you what I’m doing. But once I get through telling all the stories it’ll be time to deal with the photos, slides, negatives, and memorabilia.

Choose favorites to keep, then distribute to family

Choose Your Favorites

First, I’ll choose a set of favorite photos from each family. This won’t be a huge amount. I expect everything I keep to fit into one medium to small box. Then I’ll give my children, siblings, and relatives, in that order an opportunity to claim any left over photos.

If you’re feeling generous, another way to divide up the photos is to bring all the photos minus photos of your own family and kids to a family reunion. Draw numbers, and let all the siblings take turns choosing a favorite photo so everyone gets an equal opportunity to get the most coveted images. 

The rule would be that photos of one family member would go to that person, but photos with multiple family members would be part of the choosing process. Then, if you have photos left over, check to see if more distant relatives are interested.

See who else might want the leftover photos

You can also check with a business or school or other organization where an ancestor held an important post to see if they want some historical photos for their archives.

Other options

During the 40’s and 50’s my husband’s grandfather was the president of the Bemidji State Teachers College, now called Bemidji State University, so if we have leftover photos or documents we could check with the school library to see if they’d be interested in either the originals or the scans.

You can also check with historical societies in the cities where your ancestors lived and offer them the remaining photos and documents. They might welcome getting more history of that region.

Another option might be a school or university that teaches photo or document conservation because they can use photos as teaching tools.

There are also stores or online sites that sell vintage photos.

Throw the rest away or pass them down

And finally, of course, you can throw away any remaining photos. I would save this option for last and if you just can’t bring yourself to do it, leave them for your kids and let them decide what to do! If you do your best to create shareable family stories and make sure they’re digitized and backed up, you’ve done all you can to honor the people you call FAMILY.

If you’re not on my email list be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of my news and tips on making this your year to get your family history done!

7 Responses

  1. Sandra Van Vechten-Berry
    | Reply

    I need this more than anyone I know, or even heard of, as I have an overwhelming amount of every medium of images you can imagine that ever existed, practically. From the 1800s to today (8/6/2021), as my maternal grandparents married in 1895 and I have their wedding photo on a typical Post Card photo. Plus two suitcases of my mother’s photos, and a large photo album in a bookcase. From my father, I have his grandmother’s scrapbook of photos and newspaper clippings of her son (my father’s father). I was the only child of my parents’ original marriage, and as such, I got all my father’s photos, albums with photos, slides, movies (both 8 mm and super 8 mm), Beta videotapes, and VHS videotapes. Plus, reel to reel recordings, and originals of his patents, plus other memorabilia. Then I had four children, with three different husbands and fathers. All their baby books, photos through their childhood, and each daughter had one child, and two of the three daughters have died, and my son has two sons and is on his second wife but they don’t currently have any children together. Whew. It is an overwhelming task. I did creat one Family Tree (on ancestry.com), which has 306 family members, so far. On my computer desk at the moment is one album open to 1974 October and my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday, plus 1976 Christmas of her. (She was shot and killed at age 31 in 2004, leaving an eleven year old son, for whom I am writing her bio, completed volume one, 206 pages, printed, and have 12 chapters done on Volume Two for her now 27 year old active duty Navy Officer, stationed back east (I am in WA state). WHERE do I begin?

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      What an amazing amount of family history!…All wonderful to inherit, but it can feel overwhelming for one person.
      I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter. You’re right to start there, making a bio for your grandson. And in doing so you will work through your own sorrow…and even joys…at the same time.
      If I may offer a bit of advice about the rest of your family history treasures: let 3rd party scanning companies help you out where possible, especially with the slides and various movie formats. My husband did a few of the VCR cassettes himself using a device called Delgato, but we sent all the others away, including almost all the slides. They can do it so much easier and faster. Secondly, it sounds like you have your family photos pretty well organized, so keep each family group well organized. Thirdly, don’t look at the mountain of stuff or you’ll feel overwhelmed. When you’re finished with your current project look for the easiest project you can do next and just keep plodding along doing one thing at a time. Perfection is your worst enemy here. Keep things simple. I’ve gotten simpler and simpler the longer I’ve been at this. And finally, make family history a daily habit, even if it’s just 5 minutes. That’ll keep your family history muscles strong and you can always schedule longer periods when you have time. Hope that helps some!

  2. Sandra Van Vechten-Berry
    | Reply

    Linda, what a wonderful response to my message to you. Since I contacted you, my husband and I have been quarantining since we learned that his brother and wife tested positive for COVID two days after being in our driveway and back yard delivering an invitation to an online Amway event. (Online! So Why they thought it was necessary to hand-deliver a physical invitation instead of text, email, or mail it I do not understand, but I ended up spending my 80th birthday without even a piece of cake and of course zero people here (which I already know that would be the case, sigh, but my husband could not even go to the grocery store to get the frosting ingredients for the Orange Cake mix I have in the pantry (since I cannot even eat my favorite Chocolate, now (health issues-sigh)!!! Bottom line, no fever, no symptoms, so about halfway through the quarantining and pray for that to continue. Cannot take the Vaccine due to an allergic reaction (an Anaphylaxis reaction that hospitalized me twice) but at least my husband had the vaccine.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Oh, my! And on your 80th birthday even. As a fellow classmate used to say, “How rude!” Well, you’ll just have to celebrate big time later. It never hurts to extend celebrations!

  3. Barbara
    | Reply

    Linda, I just discovered your book The Rhyming Bible Storybook. It is beautiful in words and illustrations by Toni Goffe. I have 15 great grandchildren and want to purchase more copies. Is that possible? I found mine in a thrift store. Reading your rhymes is so soothing and pleasant to the ear and best of all letting your little ones hearing God’s word. Thank you for sharing your gift with the world

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Hi Barbara, thanks so much for your kind words! I’ve heard lots of wonderful stories over the years about how these books have been a blessing to families. Glad you feel that way too!

      The original edition with art by Toni Goffe has been out of print for quite a few years and I don’t have extra copies, but if you do a search online for Rhyme Bible Storybook you’ll find plenty of used copies for sale with Toni’s art. The new edition, with art by Laurence Cleyet-Merle is still in print and available on Amazon and other online book retailers.

      By the way, if you search my name on Amazon you’ll find my other books as well.

      Thanks again for your comment. I really appreciate hearing when my books have been a blessing to others!

  4. Shauna Paulsen
    | Reply

    I had over 2500 slides digitized from the 1950s through early 2000s. Unlike my digitized photos, which I had scanned front & back (where all the identifying information was – my mother was very thorough), the slide files don’t include the identifying information that was written on the slides. Any suggestion as to how to label the slide files themselves? Or, do an Excel file that tells who the people, dates, locations are in the slides?

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