Strengthening Family Bonds by Organizing and Storing Family Photos

woman and man sitting at laptop
Kathy and her father Bert, organizing photos and re-kindling relationships; photo by Kathy Storie

 

Organizing your photos and them uploading them to online albums that you own isn’t just a task, it’s a way of enjoying relationships with your closest family members and learning new things. Enjoy this account of a daughter, Kathy Storie, helping her aging father re-kindle memories and affection.

 

Bringing memories to life

Kathy Storie’s father, Bert, called her one day and asked her if she had some time to help him put the few photos he had of his “early years”, as he called them, into a photo book.

“Of course!” she told him, and that started a two-year journey of storing, researching, and safeguarding memories.

“I had never seen my dad’s photos,” says Kathy, “I never knew he had any and in my younger years, I didn’t even think to ask him about his photos. His mother died when he was young, so he didn’t grow up with many family stories.”

Kathy grew up in La Crescenta, just north of downtown Los Angeles, and saw her opportunity to bring new-found joy into her 86-yer-old father’s life.

Every Tuesday, Kathy drives to see Bert in the family home to organize and digitally store his photos. They’ve thoroughly enjoyed their time together and it’s given her father a chance to re-discover his own childhood and younger adult years.

“He was ready to start looking at the pictures and figuring out the stories.”

 

How Kathy organized photos

Getting started wasn’t easy. Kathy pulled pictures from the shoebox where Bert had his pictures stashed and asked her father what he knew about the people and places.

At first, he couldn’t say what he remembered, so Kathy did some sleuthing and asked him questions which, “taught him how to make educated guesses about dates and places.”

“We began with hard copy pictures and his memories slowly came around.”

Man talking to woman at laptop
The process kept Bert engaged; photo by Kathy Storie

Kathy’s a photo coach who helps families organize their photos, just like she helped her father. She uses a digital storage tool that lets photos be safely stored for a lifetime, plus 100 years.

She made an account for Bert that included a digital album. Kathy had the hard copy photos converted to a digital format and uploaded them. Her dad was thrilled for the new experience and quickly became engaged.

“His eyes lit up as he saw the pictures populate the account. He forgot about the TV and learned to use his phone with the online storage album. He’s thrilled to show everyone how he can see his childhood photos right from his phone! And he loves how they are so nicely organized.”

Kathy guided her dad in deciding how he wanted to bring order to the photos. He chose working decade by decade, beginning with pictures in the 1920s, then the 1930s, into the 1940s and later.

 

 

Organizing photos engages the mind

Kathy saw that bringing the photos together let her dad think through the order of his life. He was engaged in the process as Kathy showed him the pictures and asked him what he knew. He was able to relive important memories while giving her key information.

She typed in the descriptions of each photo as her father told her the information and the story behind the photo, if there was one.

When they began the process, Bert didn’t believe he had enough photos to even attempt to create a book.

But as their work progressed, they discovered mementos like report cards from his childhood and items from his parents like his father’s watch, and his grandmother’s locket. These mementos were just stuffed away. But he and Kathy brought new meaning to them by photographing them and adding them to his online account and the photo album. All these photos and mementos show what shaped his years as a boy and as a man.

Kathy’s mother is now eager to get on with organizing her family history photos and Kathy discovered another benefit.

“This has been true joy. You learn more about your parents when they talk about their history,” she says. “My father shared stories with me that he had never shared before. And there were other stories that made him hesitate. He didn’t want to talk about them, but I encouraged him to share. I told him that we want to see our human sides and that no one is perfect.”

 

Searching for family history

The photo organizing brought up questions that led Kathy to dig into the family’s history and delve into their genealogy. Family research is one of the services that she offers.

Some research can be done online, but accessing the Internet has limitations.

“There are a lot of documents you can find online, but finding the stories can be tough.”

Chart of family history
Researching family history

Kathy has also conducted research with her husband, and she found that he had a great aunt who never had children and she worked as a nurse in Alaska, caring for the local populations. She wrote letters to her sister, Kathy’s husband’s grandmother, that were fascinating.

“It puts a new perspective on the family,” Kathy says, “and it’s worth doing for future generations. As parents, you don’t know if your own children will be interested. But you may have grandchildren, great grandchildren, and so on. You can bet that you’ll have ancestors who will be just thrilled that you have shared photos and stories in your guaranteed permanent digital storage account that can be passed along from one generation to another. Many will be interested in the family history and benefit from the stories.”

Kathy’s mother’s ancestors are from Germany, and she’s able to tap into the professional research service she uses for clients to dig into family history on that side of the family.

 

Photobooks as gifts

Bert has now created a two-volume photo book using this Vintage Family Memories Template that’s complete with scanned photos and memorabilia, accurate and estimated dates, and descriptions of relatives and friends.

He gave a copy of the books to his older brother, Marvin, who was brought to tears while he poured over the photos and stories now brought all together.

Photo books
Family pictures are lasting treasures

He’ll give copies at Christmas to his four children as meaningful gifts that will be treasured for years to come.

Organizing isn’t just a task that should get done. It’s a way to chronicle a life and, when done properly, the photos are stored for lifetimes to come.

 

Learn more from Kathy about organizing and storing family photos. Click on these links:

Digitizing old photos, negatives, film reels, and more

Organizing and storing photos

Family research

Photobooks and photo gifts

 

Connect with Kathy wherever you live

She can coach you from her living room to yours:

Email: kathystorie4photoanswers@gmail.com

Ph: (818) 269-9730

 

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