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Footprint - legacy / history left behind

Story Approaches: Impart before you depart!
T h i s   i s   n o   t i m e   f o r   p r o c r a s t i n a t i o n .

How will you approach preserving your photo collection?  How will you approach getting your photos scanned?  What approach will you use to create stories associated with the photos?  Which photos will you use?  Our services and tools are designed to help you sort through these issues and provide structure to the process.   However, the first decision you will need to make is whether to do it now or just wait until later.

The importance of NOW can not be overstated.  Many stories have been lost because memories have faded and family members have passed away.  It only gets worse so time is of the essence and there is no reason you cannot take the first step right away.  You don't have to do it all at once and we can help you get started.  We like to say "Impart before you depart!"  



Option A: Pre-sort Chronologically

Gather all your photos and do a fast chronological sort.  A quick way to do this is to get 10 large zip lock bags or storage containers and label them by decades (1920s, 1930s, 1940s ...).  Then go through your loose photos and just toss them into the bag that seems to make most sense.  Ditto with albums which are typically already sorted by year.

Don't dwell on whether or not a photo should be scanned.  If there is any question at all, put it in the bag, set aside the rest.  Keep in mind that just because you can't identify someone in a picture, maybe other family members can or it may become clear later in context of other photos you come across. 

Next: break down each zip lock bag into smaller units by year within each decade.  Sort the photos by year as best you can.  Don't worry if you get it wrong at this stage. It can be easily fixed later.

With the photo collection sorted by year, they are ready to be scanned and uploaded, one bag (year) at a time.  Use a tool, like ours, that allows you to upload multiple photos at a time and tag (or stamp) the year to each photo during the upload process.



Approach B: Pre-sort by themes

Gather your photos and sort by theme. This is a long term approach to the entire collection but a short term approach toward creating stories right away.  Example themes could be your wedding pictures; your parents courtship pictures, paternal grandparents, maternal grandparents, vacations etc.

This theme approach works well when an event is coming up like a 50th wedding anniversary where you might want to share a story in a group setting that relates the experiences of the parent's courtship.  At the bottom of this screen are typical examples of occasions that call out for a story and as such often implies themes you may want to consider.

The downside to the theme approach is that there is a very high probability that many pictures may never get scanned and archived and eventually lost.

When a celebratory event is coming up, consider doing the theme approach as a precursor and catalyst to scanning the entire collection.  

Approach C: Don't pre-sort them at all

Just scan and upload and do all the organizing online later at your convenience.  

We discourage this approach although it may be the quickest.  The disadvantage of this is that you miss the opportunity to take advantage of the human brain's ability to process and associate images based on the context of which box or album it came out of and what photos it was in close proximity to.

When photos and slides are already contained in albums and carousels they are effectively pre-sorted so further sorting may not be required.

We often make house calls to help people establish a strategy for approaching the organization and scanning of their collection.  Don't hesitate to call us for help.


Get a consultation which includes us coming to your house, scanning 30 of your photos and help you strategize your approach to digitizing your entire photo collection.


Receive a 6 month complimentary subscription to the tool set so you can add more photos and create more stories on your own.

This is an excellent way to explore the possibilities achieved by digitizing your photo collection.

Home consultation fee with scanning, strategy proposal and story creation $95

Approach D: CASE STUDY - Janice's solution 

Janice, an 80 year old great grandmother (who took her commitment to archive her entire photo collection very seriously) used a unique approach that took advantage of a feature in our system that automatically updates the image record in the database with the original file name when uploaded.  

Rather than pre-sorting the photos (prior to scanning), she identified photo info in the file name when saving the scanned image.  As best as she could recall, she included in the file name:

  1. year taken (a guess if she had to)
  2. month taken (approximation)
  3. place taken
  4. names of family members in the picture 
  5. in some cases comments as well

Example file name = 1945 Dec Hamilton Indiana George Janice Mildred Frank.jpg
The year was a best guess and since the photo had a Christmas tree in the picture the month was a good guess also.

She was able to perform a series of searches on the original file name and then mass update image records in the database because 1) she had provided this much detail in the image file name and 2) file names of scanned images are captured in our system on upload.   

Example 1: of a search and update - find all photos where the original file name contains "1945".  Then she could mass update the "year" field with 1945.  

Example 2: find all photos whose original file name contains "Janice" and mass update  "people in photo" field with Janice.

By repeating this process with each family member's names and place taken, all 6,000  image records were updated relatively quickly, within a couple of hours.  This also  worked for her because she had some semblance of order in her collection that helped in the identification process as well as some photos had notes on the backs of the photos.

She would put in several hours a day scanning and naming files and then upload the days batch at the end of the day. 

In reality, it is likely (and ok) to use a combination of all of the above approaches. The important thing, go with what is easiest especially if the alternative is to put it off until later. 


A p p r o a c h e s   t o  S t o r y   C r e a t i o n  A f t e r   S c a n n i n g  

The process of creating a story can be as enriching as the end result is rewarding.  Here are some possible scenarios that you might want to consider using to inspire you to get started.

Birthdays of a grandparent

Create an online slide show with written or recorded narrative about your memories with that person and what he or she means to you. Add music and make it fun. 


Relationship focused stories represent opportunities to share with others what your time with them has meant. Create an online slide show, or photo book that reviews the life with that person from the courtship years to the present.  Add music (if online) or narrative (if online or photo book format) to make it really special.

Acknowledge a loved one with a life review

A pictorial life review of the evolution of a person from birth to present might feature all the milestones in that personís life. Possibly include birth picture, first steps, first grade, first bike, first girl/boy friend, first date, graduation, first car, wedding, jobs, retirement.   Add music or narrative to add dimension and meaning to the life of the loved one or the couple with their favorite songs.

Life celebrations

Memorial occasions represent a sad time for family and friends but creating a review of the personís life is a great way to remember them as an individual who, like all of us,  was born into this world, evolved from childhood to young adult to adult and who, while departed, has left a footprint genetically and/or experientially.  Stories of this nature are best when they capture the essence of who that person was and the impact that personís life has had on others.  

Future blogs will deal with how to approach this type of story (as well as other types) in greater detail.  Register to be notified of blog postings.


Legacy gift and intergenerational opportunity

Your parent's or grandparent's life deserves to be acknowledged and there is no better way than to give them the gift of memories.  If they have already passed consider taking the time to share your memories of them with your children and future generations.  

See our blog on the value of family legacies for children

These are just some examples of "end product" goal which may motivate you to get started.   Rather than scanning (digitizing) all the photos all at once (a seemingly overwhelming task that keeps people from doing anything with their collection) approach it one story or project at a time. Doing it in chunks will reward you when sharing it for the given occasion and will provide inspiration and momentum to keep you going with the rest of the collection.  


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