How Each Generation Manages Their Photo Legacy in Different Ways

Technology has changed the way we manage photos and retain the history behind them. Every generation has a different approach to preserving pictures, video, and memorabilia. How they use different media and save it relates directly to the technology they grew up with.

How well do you know your generations?

1940s to 1960s

  • If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you’re a Baby Boomer. Boomers were named for the post World War II baby boom; they observed several historical events, including the Korean and Vietnam wars and the invention of television.
  • During the Boomer era, there was also a group called Generation Jones from1955 to 1965 named for the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses,” which is a desire to compare material wealth. They grew up as the Watergate scandal hit, and mistrust in government and institutions began.
  • Slightly overlapping the Jones’ was Generation X from 1965 to 1980. The baby bust generation witnessed the invention of computers. They were the first latchkey kids who went to daycare, and lived through divorce.

1970s to 1990s

  • Xennials arrived between 1977 and 1983 and were the first generation to grow up with household computers and the internet. They are naturals on social media even though they grew up without it. They used home phones until cell phones came along in their 20s. They used AOL, one of the first online web services for chat and email.
  • Millennials (also called Generation Y) were born between 1981 and 1996 and were the first generation born into the internet age. They learned about popular culture from cable TV and joined the workforce at the height of the recession.

2000s to 2020s

  • Generation Z from 1997 to 2015 was the first generation to grow up with smartphones. They spend more time on social media and texting and less time with friends. While they are expected to have more money than previous generations, they also have more school debt.
  • Generation Alpha is 2010 or after, born when Apple launched the iPad and Instagram made its debut. They are more likely to go to college, grow up in a single-parent household, and know college-educated adults.

What Picture This Organized has learned about each generation

The younger generations are tech-savvy when it comes to managing and storing their photos. Older adults tend to keep original media to preserve historical value. Here are some trends I’ve noticed while working with clients:

Baby Boomers to Generation X:

These eras have boxes of movie reels, slides, audiotapes, and large collections of prints from family and ancestors ranging from the 1800s through the early 2000s. They save photos, newspaper clippings, war mementos, and other memorabilia in albums and scrapbooks that may have had pockets or sticky magnetic sheets.

They enjoy sharing their photos via email or text, love the original prints, and prefer to keep them in frames, collages, or albums. While most have cell phones, they aren’t very comfortable with technology and want help with photo editing. They may use social media to stay in touch or view fairly regularly, but they don’t often share it. Saving or storing precious photos is usually done with an external hard drive because they are still learning to trust the cloud.


This era has photos from childhood printed on everything from Polaroid through Kodak paper. Any digital images range from point-and-shoot cameras and SLR (single-lens reflex) to smartphones. Home movies were recorded on video tapes using larger handheld video cameras. They also created photo albums using magnetic and slip pages as well as scrapbooks.

Xennials take photos with an SLR camera or smartphone, and shoot video with a video camera or smartphone. They use screenshots to retrieve important information like text messages and travel information. To keep prints safe, they use frames and albums. Digital images may be stored on smartphones, in digital frames, and online. They may use digital albums via Shutterfly, Snapfish, or Apple Albums.

You’ll find Xennials are comfortable taking and saving images on smartphones and tablets, and they use eBook readers and music apps. Social media is where they prefer to stay in touch, but they are protective about what they share. They save photo treasures in many ways and tend to be a bit inconsistent about their methods but lean toward local computer storage.


This generation has some traditional prints from childhood peppered in with images on CDs, DVDs, and smartphones. Home movies range from tapes to smartphones. They prefer to take all their pictures on the phone, enjoy selfies, and pose for the camera. Millennials love live photos and watch or make video series with how-to demonstrations.

Technology is a no-brainer for them, and they can save, share and create collages easily on phones and online. They use their phones to make purchases, control the television, or as a search engine to find what they need and answer their questions. Millennials have several social media profiles and visit them many times a day. These digital pros backup photos and videos on smartphone library systems using Google or Apple applications. They know how to organize them to make them searchable.

Generation Z and Alpha:

These eras not only take selfies and family photos, but images of food, landscapes, pets, hairstyles, and more. They grew up with GIFs (continuous loops of images or soundless video), memes (imitation with symbolic meaning), and emojis. They take all their photos with a smartphone and enjoy seeing photos as GIFs, memes, and on Snapchat. Generation Z and Alpha spend more time on videos that feature food, dance, and how-to demonstrations and are just as comfortable with technology as Millennials. They preserve their images by syncing with apps like Google Photos and Apple Photos. They share images and back them up on social media.

Recommended Backup and Storage for All Your Photos and Images

For any generation, creating a backup system must be easy, fast, and affordable. The cost to automatically save photos from an external hard drive is only $5 per month. Despite what Gen Z and Alpha believe, social media posting is not an adequate backup solution and doesn’t always have the best resolution for photo keepsakes. Be careful what you share and with whom since each site has its different privacy and security settings. Consider that anything you post will remain in the public domain for years. If you want to manage what you’ve posted, you can gather photos and videos from various social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok and put them in a centralized storage location that is both secure and private. Your originals will also retain their resolution quality.

At Pictured This Organized, we can help you manage your photo legacy and understand the technology challenges experienced by every generation. Contact us to learn more about preserving images from traditional print and memorabilia to live digital video clips.

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