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Sorting through a lifetime of photos


By Natalie Ahearn

One of the most common obstacles for older adults who are downsizing is the large number of photos they may have accumulated. As a professional downsizer, I see box upon box or album upon album of photos—a lifetime of family, travel, joy and love, all captured in 3×5 or 4×6 inch images. January is a perfect time to begin the process of photo culling; the weather is dreary and it’s a great project to do from the comfort of your own home.

If possible, bring all your photos to one location that is warm and dry. I like to sort pictures in my family room, while I’m watching an old movie. Set aside photos that really mean something to you to keep in your home. Be judicious in your selection, knowing that keeping a more manageable number of photos will be less cumbersome and more meaningful. Label the backs of your photos with dates and descriptions. You will probably find many pictures are duplicate shots of the same scene, contain people you no longer remember, or are just not very good quality (My photography skills are very limited!). The process of paring down will be easier than you think.

After you have selected the photos you want to keep, create a photo box (or decorated shoe box) for your loved ones. As you are sorting pictures, you can separate them for each family member. Your selections may include photos of the recipient and some of the photos of you from different points of your life (baby, wedding, etc). Write a personal note to your loved one and include it in the box. You have now created a very special gift. If your recipients are far away, mail the box from the post office. If you are lucky enough to have loved ones nearby, you can share this photo present in person. Remember to keep your pictures to one box; you want this to be a gift and not a burden for your family members.

The very best part of photo sharing is the conversations that will arise while people are viewing your pictures. Looking through my client’s photos is one of the best parts of my job, as it gives me a window into my clients’ lives before I knew them. Chances are that sorting through your own photos will remind you of all the wonderful things you have done with your life, and now you can share your story!

Natalie Ahern, founder and principal of All the Right Moves Boston, has extensive experience in project management, home decorating, and floor planning in homes on and around Boston’s South Shore. Whether a client is downsizing, relocating, or aging in place, Natalie manages it all. She is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. You can reach her at 781- 724-1681 or visit alltherightmovesboston.com for more information. 


Reprinted from the January 2020 edition of the South Shore Senior News,






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