Time to Tackle Family Photos

Recently, we were at my parents home. My mom had boxes lined up at the front door for each of her Colorado-based kids. My mom likes to sneak her “treasures” into our houses so I was suspicious of the contents of the boxes.

Curiosity got the best of me and as I leaned in I saw hundreds of loose photos and other 8×10 framed photos of my kids. .

She was giving me the photos I gave her back to me. To clarify, I have the identical photos. Like this one:

It was decadesof photos of my kids that I had made copies for her and my dad. Framed photos, photos where no one is looking at the camera, flash photography mishaps on Kodak film.

There were hundreds of her photos that she wanted to re-gift back to me.

Sidenote: Here is an argument against photo editing apps. Photoshop will not create the tears of laughter from our family photo mishaps.

Except I had the originals so my photo collection doubled. Some came with the 1995 dark frames with metallic trim. I got it all. My mom could not get us out the front door fast enough- she knew if I opened the boxI would sneak them downstairs behind the furnace. Why?

Because I had the identical photos.

In the spirit of Christmas I lugged my two boxes into the garage. I prayed for a Christmas miracle or a broken water pipe.

This winter when I was down for the count with back to back colds I gathered my strength to haul these photos from the garage to my home office. I had Bridget Jones on in the background.

I decided before I organized the photos I needed a plan.



  1. You must confirm the scope of the project. To do this you need to gather all the photos stored in the attic, basement or shoeboxes .
  2. Decide how you plan to sort the photos: year, quality, by child, by each side of the family?
  3. Create a space to organize the photos. I realized stacks on my office floor was a short term solution.


The first thing I did was sort the photos. Blurry photos were out.

There were a few funny photos like this one I kept.


We had so many duplicates because I always sent my mom the cute photos of the kids (the same ones I kept).

funny family photos


Oh do you remember the dreaded school photos. Did you ever watch the episode of The Middle and Sue Heck’s class photo retake? You can watch it on Peacock.

I sorted the school photos and placed each child’s class photos in these clear envelopes.

Of course, our youngest, Evan, got the short end of the order form because I could not find any evidence of him attending school between the fourth and eighth grade. #thebaby

Larger prints from weddings or family photos were stored in the same envelopes.


Focus on the photos that tell a story like big birthdays or holidays with grandparents or cousins. The random photos with awkward angles or grainy images need to go.

If you have a hard time letting go, put the photos aside and revisit in a month.


Years ago I scanned a family heirloom photos or favorite family photos. I essentially made duplicates of duplicates. Over the years I cleaned up my family photos in cloud storage using the same tips above with jpg images.

Resources to Store

I did invest in navy fabric-covered horizontal boxes at the Container Store. They were pricier and a year later I found the identical ones at Homegoods.

I love these clear oversized envelopes to store each child’s photos, school documents, or the generational photos of grandparents and great-grandparents.

Where are you in your journey to organize the family photos? If you are new to Everyday Edits you can read about me here.

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One Comment

  1. We haven’t filled boxes YET of photos for the kids to take, only because it is the next big project! I appreciate you sharing your story and advice. So, so many photos and slides as well!

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