What Can You Do With Old Photos?

The back says "Uncle Bob." Do I even have an Uncle Bob?"

It’s easy to dispose of some old stuff. Your ghastly wardrobe from the 1980s, your Rick Astley CD collection, and that expired tub of mayonnaise at the back of the fridge can be filed under “G” without shedding a single tear. Old photographs, however, are harder to toss away–even if you can no longer remember where or when they were taken or who the heck is in them. After all, these images capture a piece of someone’s past. Surely, they should be treasured and memorialized, shouldn’t they?

If you feel too guilty to throw your old pix in the trash, but haven’t got a clue what to do with them, here are a few suggestions.

Go Digital

The most obvious solution to photo-storing woes is to scan them. Digital images can be easily stored en masse on a USB stick, a DVD, or an online storage platform. “Gather, Organize, and Enjoy Your Old Physical Photos” warns that scanning them yourself can be time-intensive, but you can buy or rent an auto-feed scanner that can handle multiple photos without constant switching or feeding. Another option is to pay a company to scan them in bulk for you.

Photograph Your Photos

If you have some pictures that are old and fragile or a scrapbook or photo album that you do not want to take apart, you can take a photograph of the images, instead. Museum Photographer, Lewis Bush, tells The Telegraph to put the photo under the lens with two lights on opposite sides of it, use a flash with a diffuser, and shoot in RAW format with a small aperture and low ISO.

Make a Collage

You can quickly transform a large group of photos into a beautiful work of art by creating a collage. Begin by grouping photos according to a theme–a celebration, a particular location, a choice decade–and cropping them to look their best. Choose a medium for displaying the collage–as a traditional picture mounted on canvas, a table topper behind glass, a decoupage on a piece of furniture, or another creative idea–and begin gluing.


Cari Vander Yacht, an Amsterdam-based Art Director, had fun with a collection of old photos by converting them into GIFs. In “Why You Shouldn’t Get Rid of Old Photos,” she explains that GIFs are image files that contain multiple frames and look as if they are moving. This movement enabled her to animate old photos and give them a new life.

A Photograph Table Runner

While perusing the internet, you will be able to find a plethora of non-traditional uses for old photos. And some are bound to tickle your fancy. Gianna of Chic Celebrations shares her idea for a table runner made of photographs with Ruffled.

She created a 9-foot long runner using old black and white photos and a glue gun. She does recommend starting in the middle and completing each end. As you will need to overlap pictures, it is also a great idea to use several duplicates so that different parts of the image are exposed at different places on the runner.

It’s time to finally rid yourself of that stack of mystery photographs. Whether you simply digitize them, opt for a more creative approach or do a bit of both, they will no longer take up wasted space and gather a not-so-thin layer of dust. And, maybe, they can finally be used to bring a smile to someone’s face–a smile worthy of a new photograph, perhaps?

And so the cycle continues.

What creative ways have you put old photos to good use?