Creating a Legacy Collection for Yourself

I work with many clients and see a lot of family photo collections and as one might expect these collections, mine included, are getting larger and larger. Personal photo collections of over 100k images are not uncommon.

The question then becomes, where is this going and do we really want to go there?

We have to come to terms with these enormous photo collections we are over feeding. I can honestly tell you that I have seen family photo collections that are larger than my professional photo collection which I have amassed over 25 years. The difference is I curate and edit my collection. Most people don’t edit down their personal photo collection, do you? Seriously who has the time?

So I have been trying to approach this all in a different way. Instead of trying to manage our ever-growing, out of control Apple Photo or Google Photo libraries, perhaps we need to create and curate a small but very personal collection of our favorite and most important photos and videos. This would of course include recent photos, but also the family photos that have been passed down to us.

A Legacy Collection: something that tells the story of our family’s history and can be handed down to future generations.

So while we may be dealing with thousands and thousands of images in our main collection, I am talking about a small select group of photos, separate and apart, that we want to cherish, keep and protect for our future generations. And by small I don’t mean a few thousand, I’m talking about a couple of hundred, possibly even a few dozen. That’s the number you tell a good story with, and also lets face it, no one is going to want to be handed down much more than that when the time comes.


And here is a humbling thought – your kids will have kids, and those kids will have their kids and they will all be passing down a collection of family photos. You will be lucky to have survived that photo tsunami with one or two images of you. Think about it, how many photos of your great, great, great grandparents do you have? Better start curating now, and maybe, just maybe, there will be one or two photos of you existing multiple generations from now.

I am not sure exactly how to go about this, but I will be thinking and writing about it in the months ahead. One thing you can start doing is to begin identifying the really great photos in your library, the ones that tell you and your family’s story. That is editing of a sort, but a whole lot easier than trying to manage and edit down 100k images, right?

We are our family’s historians, the stewards of our legacy, but that giant mess of a digital photo collection is going nowhere, so lets start creating something that will.

Would love to hear your thoughts.