Don’t know what to do with your old family photo collection? Find some inspiration with these great ideas!

How many photos do you take on your phone each day?

If you’re like most U.S. adults, you snap six photos every single day. That’s according to a survey of 2,000 people, which also revealed that almost 60% of photos captured on our phones feature family members. Family photos are important to most of us, and you may have a huge collection of albums or boxes yourself. But you might not need or want to keep all of them.

So, what can you do with old family photos that you don’t plan on keeping anymore? In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some simple ideas to inspire you.


To get started, go through all of the photos in your collection and order them in any way that makes sense to you. That might be by date, by location, or by occasion.

Take a thorough look through all of your photos and determine which you want to keep, give away, or dispose of. That can be a difficult part of the process, especially if you feel guilty about getting rid of photos that feature certain family members or events. Take your time and think carefully before placing any photos in your “get rid of” pile.

For those photos you want to keep, store them in albums or photo boxes to make sure you don’t get rid of them by mistake. Try to keep them organized to make finding specific photos easier next time you feel like walking down memory lane.

Once you have arranged your old family photos and know which ones you want to dispose of, you can start exploring exactly how you’ll do that.


If any of your photos are printed on paper or card, or they’re fairly recent, recycling centers may accept them. However, the majority of photos can’t be recycled, specifically older ones or those printed on glossy photo paper. Unfortunately, the only way to dispose of those photos is to put them in with your household trash.

If you have old family photos you need to throw out, it might be a good idea to destroy or damage them beforehand. Old photos may contain personal information, or you might just not want anyone else to have them after you dispose of them. That’s especially true if the photos feature anything that could be embarrassing or controversial if they get into the wrong hands.

You have a few options for destroying or damaging photos. Burning and shredding are the two most effective methods, but take care if you plan to burn them. Photos printed on glossy paper may release toxic chemicals when exposed to flames, so keep your distance and wear a mask to protect yourself.

A simpler, and potentially safer, option is to obscure photos with marker pens or paint before you dispose of them.


If you have old family photos you don’t want to keep but don’t want to throw out either, upcycling is a great option. You can turn them into a crafting project, which is a fantastic way to get creative and have fun. Transform old photos into something new and still keep them in a different form if you’re not ready to get rid of them. Here are a few upcycling ideas to try:

Make a family tree

Creating a family tree is a great way to upcycle old photos and still cherish them. Take photos of various family members and arrange them in chronological order, working from snaps of your oldest relatives down to the youngest.

You can make this into a beautiful arrangement on a wall at home, even painting frames around the photos and adding annotations.

Build a collage

Use your old family photos to form a wall collage in a bedroom or hallway. You can combine photos in different ways, whether you want to commemorate a specific occasion, family member, or place. You have plenty of flexibility with collages, so go for it!

Create your own greeting cards

Send unique greeting cards to relatives featuring photos of themselves or family members they’ll recognize. Set them in any type of cardboard frame you like, and add a personalized message, possibly detailing the people and place in the photo.

Add photos to jewelry

Depending on the size of your old family photos, you may be able to add them to pieces of jewelry for yourself or as a special gift. For example, you could slip a couple of old photos into a pendant if they’re small enough. That means you can always carry treasured pictures with you wherever you go (without them just being on your phone).


Another terrific option is to digitize your old family photos before you do anything else with them, especially if you’re not absolutely sure whether or not you want to dispose of certain pictures. After all, if you throw old photos out or transform them into something else as a crafting project, those images are either gone, altered, or damaged forever.

Even if you don’t want specific pictures anymore, it’s still a great idea to digitize them in case you want to see them again in the future (possibly even decades from now). You can enjoy total peace of mind knowing that your old family photos are safely stored away on a USB drive or disc, ready for you to scroll through at any time.

And here’s another major benefit of digitizing old photos: you can keep the pictures but still declutter your home and take advantage of the space they take up. That’s ideal if you’re moving into a smaller place or you want to rearrange your home.

If you like the idea of digitizing your old family photos, EverPresent offers a professional photo digitizing service. We digitize more than 4 million images each year and work with photos in standard sizes up to 8”x10” in our lab. To find out how we can digitize your photos with free home pickups for large projects, get in touch with EverPresent today!