After Scanning Old Photos, Now What?

When you need a break from organizing things into boxes, you might be one of the millions of people who enjoy organizing into trees…family trees. Sound like a reach? It’s not. Whether you are organizing your things or your family, you are making connections and putting order to what a mess of forgotten or useless information. If we’ve organized and scanned photos for you, or if you are working on a photo organizing project by yourself, you might wonder, after scanning old photos, now what?

After scanning old photos, now what?

After Scanning Old Photos, Now What?

I recently became aware of a fun tool called Relatives at Rootstech. I also found the answer the question: what does it mean when someone says they are cousins twice removed? More on that in a minute.

Add Important Info to Old Photos

Let me back up a second. As a pro photo organizing firm, we cross paths with amateur genealogists all the time. The big question has always been where to store the information about the family members you dig up, so to speak. How can you handle the the different types of info, which could be photos, documents, historical dates, random factoids, or ornately drawn family trees? I took notice when one of our favorite photo organizing apps,, added fields to their photo app that allow a user to capture metadata (like dates, locations, people, and captions) in fields that can be shared through the site. They’ve also built an interface so that you can directly “Post Memories to FamilySearch.” Pretty cool.

after scanning old photos-add metadata

Connect with Family through Old Photos

If you’ve taken one of those mail order DNA tests, you might wonder where to go from there. Well, connecting the dots by sharing photos with your newly-discovered relatives could be next on your list. Once you find your people, either through those DNA services or otherwise, you probably want to share your history through photos.

One place to delve deep into family history is RootsTech, “the world’s largest family history conference, brought to you by FamilySearch.” This annual conference happens in person (Feb 29-March 2, 2024), but more of it happens online these days, including through the app, Relatives at RootsTech. This free app allows you to input information about you and your family tree in order to connect with other real, live people attending RootsTech virtually or in person, who might be related to you. If this is your thing, you can save the contact information and maybe meet new cousins. This article from explains more about how to use the free Relatives at RootsTech app. 

If you value privacy above all else, this may not be your thing. But if you value connection with family far and wide, looking for deeper connection, this will definitely be your thing. It’s never been easier to use. My favorite photo detective, Maureen Taylor, just featured a short podcast on Relatives At Rootstech. 

Organize Old Photos to Share with Family

Unfortunately, by the time you read this, the Relatives at Rootstech feature may be shuttered until the next annual Rootstech conference. Until then, you can get to work on organizing all of your print and digital photos, face-tagging your photos, and fixing dates to create one really satisfying photo timeline with all of your ancestors up and down the branches of your family tree. If you are a Mylio user, you can turn on the “Family History” feature to store your photo metadata in a way that it can transfer to Just toggle Family History on, which is found under the three dots in the top right corner.

after scanning old photos

Using a robust photo organizing tool, like Mylio, Apple Photos,, and a handful of others, you can save what you know today about your photos just as easily as you could write on the backs of photos fifty years ago.  Yes, this is a real photo (below) that came through our office. This “Guess Who” written on the back of a photo is completely useless. As are the notations like, “mom and me” or even “Bobby at the lake.” Which lake? Which mom? Which Bobby? Names are often shared across the generations.

after scanning old photos-add metadata

Organize Cousins Twice Removed

With resources linked above, you are much better equipped to go hunting for relatives, knowing that you probably have valuable photo history to share. When you meet the cousins, you can finally answer that question, what does it mean to be or have a cousin who is “removed?” Consult this helpful cousin chart, which absolutely should remind you of a fifth grader’s times tables. In short, if your cousin and you share the same ancestor AND you both occupy the same level on the family tree, then you are just regular old cousins. But when you share the same ancestor AND you are on different levels of a family tree, then you will be once removed or twice removed, or something similar. Yes, there might be a bit of math involved.

After Scanning Old Photos, What to Do With Them?

After scanning old photos, now what? You can create beautiful keepsakes like photo books or feature videos (or have us do all the hard work for you). You can act locally to share photos with friends and family you already know. Or you can think globally and share important photos beyond your immediate family, with far-flung cousins you might just now be meeting.

But beyond anything else that you might do with old photos, make sure that you back up your photos using the 3-2-1 strategy that pro photo organizers teach. That means three copies of your photos are in at least two different physical locations, and ideally at least one copy is in a cloud service. We prefer to have a full/original-sized copy on your computer, with a full/dynamic backup copy on a hard drive at your home or office (Mylio Vaults make this easy), and a third copy in the Apple iCloud or on a Mylio connection at a relative’s home.

Not sure how to back up your digital photos? It’s easier than ever to learn how to backup both your phone and your computer. Start by turning on your iCloud if you have an Apple device. Or sign up for Carbonite or Backblaze if you store your photos on a PC (not a Mac). If you have an external hard drive, make sure it is plugged in and backing up. There’s just no reason at all to be at risk to lose your pictures, even though people tell me (at least once a month!) that it’s happened to them.

That beautifully organized set of print photos? Yeah, that’s another “backup” copy. Keep those safe in the same space you live in, not the attic, basement, garage, or storage unit.

Baby Steps to Organize Physical Photos- into photo-safe archival boxes


I’m headed off to The Photo Manager’s conference this week in Ohio, where I’ll be co-teaching the Masterclass and also a survey session on photo organizing platforms. I’ll be sharing on Instagram more of what’s new in the world of photo organizing and photo sharing. Follow me on Instagram for the latest. 

The Photo Managers Conference 2024 logo, Columbus, Ohio

If you are interested in attending The Photo Manager’s virtual conference May 9-11, 2024, click the logo above.


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