Many people have boxes of photos and dozens of albums packed full of family memories. The best way to go about organizing a lifetime of family photos is to place different groups of pictures into sealed bags and boxes. Label each box clearly to reflect the event, place, or people who are photographed. This will make it easier to digitize your photos or share them in the future.  

It’s possible to quickly organize family photos within a few days and prepare them to be shipped and scanned. Follow this guide to learn some of the best ways to get organized so you don’t lose important memories in your closets, attic, and other storage spaces.

How to Organize Family Photos 

Organizing a lifetime of family photos is a great project for spring cleaning or a summer activity to share with your kids. Follow these steps to make sure you don’t damage or forget any photos. 

  1. Protect yourself from dust and allergens.
  2. Find a space with enough room to spread out.
  3. Search for all of your photos, VHS tapes, and memories. 
  4. Develop a method to sort through photos.
  5. Label the photos that you group together. 
  6. Send your photos to be digitized.
  7. Store your original copies carefully.

1. Protect Yourself from Dust and Allergens

Think about where you have stored your photos over the years and the types of dust they might be covered in. Even the cleanest homes can experience dust buildup, especially in neglected areas like the attic or upper shelves. 

Wear protective gloves and a mask as your pull your photos together. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t normally sensitive to allergens, the buildup of dust over the years can overwhelm almost anyone. 

Handling pictures with gloves can also reduce their wear. You don’t have to worry about oils from your fingers getting on the prints and potentially eating away at them.

2. Find a Space With Enough Room to Spread Out

One photo album won’t take up much space, but a dozen photo albums and several boxes of memories will. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as you go about organizing a lifetime of family photos if all of your pictures and videotapes are crammed into one small area.

Designate a space in your home to organize family photos. You can take over the dining room table or use a guest room to work on the project. 

Keep food, pets, and messy kids away from this project. You don’t want your cat to knock over a stack of VHS tapes or one of your grandkids to accidentally spill juice on a wedding album.

3. Search for All of Your Memories 

At Memory Fortress, we often receive multiple boxes from customers who have found additional prints and other memories in forgotten corners of their homes. We are happy to process multiple boxes from our customers, but we encourage you to dedicate time to search for all of your photographs, VHS tapes, and other memories you would like scanned. We know how frustrating it can be to find a hidden album once you thought your project was completed. 

Pull all of your memories together into one place. It’s worth double-checking various drawers and rooms to make sure you don’t forget any key photos.

4. Develop a Method to Sort Through Memories

Now it’s time to decide how you want to sort through your photos, VHS tapes, and other key memories. There are different methods to go about organizing a lifetime of family photos. Some people sort chronologically, starting with the oldest photos and working forward. Other people sort by the subjects in the photos, the events the participants attended, or by the places where the photos were taken.

Sorting through your photos will be the biggest part of this project. It’s not uncommon for our team to receive thousands of photos that are packed with family memories to be scanned. Take your time so you don’t lose any photos or mix up your sorting system.

5. Label the Photos You Group Together 

Once you have sorted your photos, store them together and clearly label each group. You want to make it easy to find key photo groups in the future and for our team to label the photo groups when we can. Use a system of rubber bands, or Ziploc bags, or both, to help you organize.

Some people want to label every single photo. You can do this, but your photo organization project will take longer as you have to look at each picture and write a description for it. Other people will label photo groups as a whole. For example, you can label a group of photos something like Dan and Jennifer’s wedding, Mark’s graduation, or 2010 Hawaii vacation

When you send us your photos to be digitized, we will not label each photo individually. Our team will create different photo groupings based on your labels. If you want to keep your memories separate, you can ask for different USB drives for each grouping of photos. We are happy to accommodate this request. 

6. Send Your Photos to be Digitized

Once your photos are grouped and labeled, send them to Memory Fortress for digitization. There are many benefits of digitizing family memories. You will always have backup copies of your pictures and don’t have to worry about the originals getting damaged. You can also easily find and share photo memories with friends and family members. 

Carefully pack up your photos and place them in different groups that are clearly labeled. Let us know to expect your memories by starting your order with Memory Fortress. For a $29 deposit, you can take the first steps to protect your photo prints and VHS tapes. 

Once we receive your photos, we will scan and return them to you within five to 10 business days.

7. Store Your Photos Carefully

Once you receive your original photos back from Memory Fortress, take steps to store them in a safe area. You want to make sure your photos stay dry and are out of the heat and extreme cold. Try to find a dark place for the photos (like a closet) instead of placing them in the sun where they can get damaged and warped. 

If you don’t have a storage plan, pick up some Ziploc bags and some plastic tubs. Try to avoid storing photos in cardboard boxes, which can wear out when exposed to moisture. If your storage space gets moldy or flooded, your photos could be lost. Additionally, rats and other pests can eat through cardboard and nest in your photos. Plastic storage bins with lids that seal against water are your best storage option. 

Keep your original photos sealed and stored until you want to look at the hard copies again.

Start Your Order With Memory Fortress

Once you organize your lifetime of family photos and are ready to ship them, start your order with Memory Fortress. For a deposit of $29, you can let us know to expect your photos for scanning. You cover the cost to ship the photos to our facility and we will pay the return shipping to send your photos to you.

You can also choose to receive your photos through the Cloud, on USB drives, and on DVDs. We offer a variety of scanning and storage options to meet your needs. 

Start your order today and take the first steps to preserve a lifetime of memories.

We digitize everything right here at our facility in metro Atlanta, processed by US citizens.

2180 Satellite Blvd Suite 400 Duluth, GA 30097
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday, Sundayclosed

Local Atlanta walk-in customers MUST have an appointment for prompt service. This applies to both dropping off materials, and picking up materials as well.