Scanning All of Our Family Photos … What’s the Actual Point?

by Curtis Bisel
updated: February 10, 2024
Curtis Bisel
February 10, 2024

Hi Curtis,

I found your site as I’m in the position of being the sole heir to my family photos. My first logical thought was to scan them all, but I’m struggling a little with the question of … why? What’s the actual point?

As the ones scanning, we get the enjoyment and satisfaction of going through the photos, reliving memories and seeing moments of our parents and grandparents lives. We might even print a few off in a bigger size to put up. But then all it is, is 6,000 photos sitting on a drive. I don’t have any children or nieces/nephews, so what happens when I die?

Even for those with children, are they interested? They might enjoy a few photos of their grandparents, but the older slides will be of people they never knew. Even less so for the next generation.

It’s probably far too morbid and depressing for a post, but it’s just something that I think about. There’s a lot of information about how to scan all your photos, but not much discussion on why. It’s just presumed as a given.

Many thanks!

Jennie Shingfield
Norfolk, England

For anyone with children or with other family members such as nieces or nephews, the answer to whether or not we should scan our old family prints, slides, and negatives may seem quite obvious.

But, when I received this email from Jennie, asking me why she should go through all the trouble of taking on such a big scanning and organizing project when she doesn’t have younger family to pass it on to, I was struck with the thought that many of you might be asking yourselves the same question. Maybe even for some of you who actually do have family to pass your scanned collections on to!

Plastic bin full of paper prints — all different sizes

Let’s Discuss This Please

I would love to open this up for discussion with everyone here because I think this topic is so important.

The question that’s really at hand might be summed up best like this:

If you don’t have or know anyone that will truly cherish your scanned photo collection once you’ve passed, is there even a single reason to scan any of your old family photos?

Can one person derive enough pleasure from the outcome of having all of their old (analog) photos scanned and turned into a digital form to warrant making this project worth the time and energy involved?

Please Share Your Thoughts With Us

I wrote Jennie back and gave her a small handful of reasons I thought might help her make the decision of whether it’s truly important for her to still scan and organize her family’s photos. But I told her I was going to post her important question here for all of you to read and think about for yourself as well. There will be many reasons you come up with that would have never occurred to me to share with her.

Your Personal Task:

In the comment area below, I would love for you to share the thoughts you came up with of what inspires you or will someday inspire you to finally begin to scan and organize your old family photo collection.

Two important things:

Don’t Be Influenced

Please don’t be swayed at all by what others write. Your opinion matters just as much as theirs. If you feel you might be, don’t read what others have written until after you’ve posted your own comment.

(And know that you have 3 hours after you hit “Post Comment” to come back and edit your comment should you think of anything else you’d like to add or change. 😉 )

Same Answers Are Actually Good

Just because one person writes that “Reasons A, B, and C” are what is inspiring them to scan and organize their collection, doesn’t at all mean you shouldn’t say the same “Reason A and C” also inspires you. In fact, it’s actually quite the opposite. The more people who say they are inspired by the same specific reason(s), may be all some people who are “on the fence” of whether to do this project or not will need to understand this project will also be rewarding for them. Many us feel the most secure when we share a commonality with others.

I would love for this post to be an ongoing discussion here for today, tomorrow, and for the years to come. The answers everyone gives will truly be inspiring for every single person reading them in the future who are sitting there debating whether even scanning a single small box of prints is worth their time.

We can’t wait to read what you’ve shared!

Your voice and the way you choose to word your advice to Jennie and anyone else reading this who is feeling the same way may be the single factor that will inspire them to take action and find joy with their new digital collection.

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