The older we get, the more stuff we collect. Sometimes it’s on purpose; people like having mementos of the past, souvenirs, and other reminders. A lot of time it’s because many people simply find it hard to throw stuff away (or procrastinate), and it builds up, the actual extent of the collection only becoming apparent during a massive event like moving day.

Photographs are one of those items that quickly accumulate, especially if you’re over 30 and are in the habit of snapping photos. Whether it’s typical classic snapshots, Polaroids, photo albums bursting at the seams, or packages of pictures from events like graduations, weddings, and dance recitals, it’s inevitable; you have a mountain of old photos, relics from the bygone era of “no smartphones”!

It’s also tempting, in the spirit of decluttering your house and embracing the new tech, to just tossing all those pictures out. Usually, your justification is that you can’t think of a reason anyone would want those old photos.

Then, about eight months later, some family member inevitably asks for some of those old photos from circa 1977. Or you suddenly decide that those old school photos were worth saving after all.

Old photos hold lots of memories; be careful what you toss out!

Well, instead of hastily tossing these pictures out, have you considered keeping them in a different, more convenient and space-friendly medium first? After all, as the article “Gather, Organize and Enjoy Your Old Physical Photos” says, “These images are important memories that deserve to be organized and preserved.”

Here’s what you need to do.

Get Those Old Photos Together

Granted, this is quite a project, but in the long run, it’s worth it. First of all, gather all of your old photos together in one place. This is especially important if you intend to separate and categorize them. It’s good to know what you have to work with, or more accurately, what you’re up against!

Sort Them Out

Once you bring together all of those old photos, it’s time to being sorting them out, depending on your preference. Are you doing them in chronological order, by family member, or by events? Decide how you want to break them down.

This is also a good time to get rid of over or under exposed shots, as well as damaged or duplicate pictures. Multiple shots are a common hazard of old-fashioned photography, especially if you had copies made but never did anything with them. This phase can also satisfy that visceral urge to chuck some of that pile out.

Save Them Electronically

Finally, it’s time to scan these old photos into digital files. You can do this on your own if you have a dedicated scanner or a multi-function printer. Be warned that this can take quite a bit of time, depending on how many photos you have to deal with.

However, if you have more money than time, you may want to consider taking them to a professional scanning service. Many of these professionals also help you in organizing all of those photos into something coherent.

Once the scanning is done, feel free to throw those old photos away. However, it may be prudent to first ask around to friends and family and see if anyone wants the actual pictures.