Many of us have received photos, photo albums, boxes and/or scrapbooks from our parents and grandparents.  Back in first half of the 20th century not many pictures were taken and the ones that passed on were treasured, that is if you knew who was in the picture.  Fast forward to the present where we are taking pictures at breakneck speed.  The problem isn’t too few pictures, but too many. 

Look at your shelves of the dozens of albums or boxes of photos and think about what really is important to pass on to your loved ones that tells the story of your life.  Trust me, no one looks forward to inheriting 30 photo albums from their parents, however, they will cherish a smaller, curated collection.

Start thinking of our photo (and media) legacy now.  If you plan on passing on any of your photos, videos and film to our children or other relatives, I can guarantee they don’t want everything.  However, they do want something. 

My colleague, Mollie Bartelt defined a photo estate nicely in her book “A Simple Guide to Creating Your Photo Estate.

“A photo estate is a collection of photos, film, video, documents, and memorabilia organized in a manner that allows another person or person to view the photos, learn about the lives documented, and be impacted by the legacy of those people.”


 Don’t be overwhelmed by the term.  The concept of a photo estate or a legacy collection is simple, find the important stuff that tells your story, digitize or preserve it, and share it with your loved ones.

Gather everything together

Here are 8 steps to help you create your Photo Estate

  1. Gather together all of your media – including, photos, slides, videos, film, and memorabilia together.
  2. Organize your media.  This is a good time to eliminate duplicates and bad or unimportant photos and slides.
  3. Scan your important photos, slides and documents and convert video and film.  After conversion, you can also sort out bad video and films from the collection.
  4. Combine your scanned items with your existing digital collection (assuming that is organized).
  5. Add the stories to your photos and other media.  What is important about this photo or video?  This can be added to digitally to photos through the metadata saved to each picture.
  6. Back up your digital collection using  the 3-2-1- method
  7. Preserve your original media in archival storage containers. Yes, don’t throw photos and film away.
  8. Share your digital collection via a cloud service and/or create photos books of the most important photos to share with loved ones.

I will not tell you this will be easy or quick.  No doubt about it, this is a long-term project.  It also may be the most rewarding one you take on.

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