How To Preserve And Enjoy Your Lifetime Of Photos

Eric Stewart December 30, 2015


We spend so much of our lives acquiring things. For many people, there comes a time when priorities shift and it’s necessary to downsize in order to live more comfortably and efficiently. However, what do you do with the lifetime of photo memories you’ve accumulated? Your photos tell the story of your life and you want to make sure that the story is preserved and easy to tell for future generations. 

Organizing a lifetime of photos can be a daunting task. At the same time, the possibility of losing any of those photos can be terrifying, especially when the photos tell the story of your family, your children, and your history. Cheryl DiFrank, owner of My Memory File, helps people organize and preserve their photos to make sure their story is safe and easy to share for years to come. Whether your photos are prints in albums and boxes, or digital photos on your computer or camera, she uses a combination of “old-fashioned” organization and newer technologies to keep your photo story safe. As you stare at your photo collection and wonder what to do, below are a few examples of how Cheryl and her team have helped past clients, and could help you too!

An Attic Full of Boxes

Barbara had an attic full of 23 large storage boxes of loose prints and other memorabilia spanning three generations and 100 years. We organized all the photos by year and month, removing any duplicates and out-of-focus photos. We also edited the entire collection to identify the best photos from each year. We scanned all the prints and then put them into traditional photo albums with photo corners because Barbara still wanted to enjoy the original prints. At the back of each album, we placed another DVD with just the photos from that album, to make it easy for anyone to find the scan of any photo they might need. 

Family Photo Historian

Angela had become the appointed historian for her family and had acquired old print photos from previous generations from both of her parents’ families. Many of the photos had no identifying information. We scanned all the photos and then loaded them onto a private password-protected website where family around the world could view the photos and add information to each photo where possible. Collectively, the entire extended family helped to complete the story from their own homes. Once all the names, dates, and other information had been attached to each photo, we made multiple copies of the entire collection for various family members.

Celebrating a Life

Theresa’s mother had recently passed away and she had been given a variety of photo albums from different family members in memory of her mother. The photos were in no particular order. We removed the photos from all the albums and collectively sorted them by year and month. We then scanned all the prints and provided a copy of all the scans on three USB flash drives – one each for Theresa, her brother, and her aunt. This job was somewhat sensitive because Theresa was still mourning her mother’s passing and going through the photos on her own would have been much too painful. Yet, knowing that the photos were in disarray and not preserved created a tremendous amount of anxiety for her. We organized all the photos without her involvement and were able to give her back the photos of her mother’s life safe and sound.

Precious Video Memories

Judy came to us with 15 VHS tapes spanning 13 years of her children growing up. She had no way to view them and the tapes were barely labeled so it was hard to tell what was on many of them. We transferred all the tapes to a digital format that can be viewed on any computer or TV. Because each tape contained multiple separate events over several months or years, we created a separate video file for each event, and labeled each file with the year it was recorded and a short description of the event. She started with 15 VHS tapes and ended up with 80 separate video files of individual events – birthday parties, vacations, graduations, and impromptu dance parties. We copied everything onto two USB flash drives that Judy can now put into her computer, view any time she wants, and share with her children and grandchildren.

Computer Hard Drive Overflowing

Unlike physical print photos that you can hold in your hand and know they are safe, digital photos only exist in “cyberspace” until you print them out. Many of our clients have years and years of digital photos on their computer, but they don’t have any organizational system and consequently don’t know what’s where. They are terrified that their computer will crash before they can get all the photos of their children organized and backed up. But, the task is so overwhelming that they don’t even know where to start. Such was the case with Mary. She had over 35,000 photos on her computer in hundreds of directories and folders. These photos chronicled her family’s life since the birth of her first child 11 years earlier. First, we copied all the photos off of her computer and onto an external hard drive. We sorted all the images by date and renamed each image file with the date it was taken and the event, where applicable. We also removed all exact duplicates. Finally, we edited the photos, selecting the ones that created the best photo representation for each year.

Though every client’s situation is unique, they all have a common thread. They all want to make sure that their family’s photo memories are safe and that they can enjoy and share them when they want to. We understand the irreplaceable value of your photos and treat them as a treasured family heirloom.

Where Can I Learn More?

For more insights from Cheryl, tune into The Eric Stewart Show this Sunday, January 3, at 7am on WMAL AM 630/105.9 FM, where she will speak with Eric on how to best sort through and organize a lifetime of photos. If you miss the show, you can access the radio show archives to listen to the interview. To contact Cheryl directly, you can reach her via email at or via phone at 240-997-6475.

Additional Tips on Downsizing

Are you thinking about downsizing, but feel a bit overwhelmed? Download our FREE Rightsizing Guide, which provides practical advice on how to de-clutter and organize your possessions, the best time to sell your current home to get top dollar, and how to determine where you may want to live next.



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