Did you know each September is Save Your Photos month? This September, our focus is on creating a photo legacy.

First things first: What is a legacy? One explanation would be the traits, traditions, or items that are handed down to future generations.

For example, the leader of a company might leave a legacy of fairness, honesty, and perseverance. A family might leave a legacy of tenacity, resourcefulness, and love.

One of the most meaningful ways to share a legacy is through photos. Creating your own family photo legacy is a gift to be treasured now and by future generations.

My personal photo legacy is fairly small, about 5,000 images total. It includes childhood photos, and those taken by me throughout my life. It’s tightly curated, as I want only the very best photos for reminiscing, sharing, and passing on.

Here are 4 steps towards creating your own photo legacy:

1.  Start by sorting. Many professional photo managers like me use the “ABCs” method. This process works with both digital and print. Here’s how:

When sorting, ask yourself these questions about each image and put it in a corresponding pile (or digital equivalent).

A stands for album-worthy. These are your favorites.

B is for boxes, the alternate takes, but still photos you cherish.

C is for can, as in trash can (yes you can discard or recycle them-especially if the image is blurry, redundant, or just plain bad).

S is for stories-the stories behind the images and what they represent.

2. Once you’ve decided what to save, preserve them!

Prints need to live in archival, photo-safe and lingin-free enclosures. That means removing them from any old, magnetic-page albums (carefully!) We like using Archival Methods products for photos, memorabilia, and other printed items.

For digital, this means backing up. We use the 3-2-1 method, which is also used by archivists and professional photographers.

3-2-1 means:

3 copies of your collection on 2 devices (external hard drives), and 1 offsite (cloud storage).

3. Gather the stories: once you have decided what to save and back up, now comes the fun part – preserving and sharing the stories.

You can interview family members about particularly meaningful images. Then add any relevant keywords to your digital photos, aka “metadata”. Metadata is the information that accompanies a photo.

With printed photos, this is any writing on the back of the prints, such as names, dates, etc.  You can add this info when you scan the photos. With native digital files, metadata encompasses the technical aspects (camera model, photo capture date) as well as any text you add. This information is embedded in the file and therefore it travels with the image so that other hardware, software, or end users can understand it.

4.  Designate someone to be in charge of the family photo collection.

This person (and it could be you)  will maintain the photos and communicate with others. It’s important that family members know who has the collection and where it’s stored.

Your digital files can be part of your estate. If so, share login details with family members so they don’t get lost. Keep the password and login information current.

If you are using a library system or a shared site, make sure someone is maintaining that system. The family historian or the person responsible for the estate needs to keep things current, and be aware if a site has become obsolete.

We hope you find this information on creating a photo legacy helpful. If you use social media, you might join The Photo Managers’ private Facebook group Advice from the Photo Organizing Pros: ThePhotoManagers.com/advice. We freely share our ideas, thoughts and best practices with DIYers.

And don’t forget to check out http://www.saveyourphotos.org for 40+ free photo organizing classes taught by experts all September long!