Simple Steps to Photo Organization
If you're over the age of, say, 20, you likely have shoeboxes of printed photos, some photo albums, and a backlog of digital images numbering in the thousands.
Maybe you have a big occasion coming up and you want to create something special with some of them, and be able to find and enjoy one or all of them on a moment's notice.
If the thought of this makes you want to throw your hands up in frustration, you're not alone. As a certified photo organizer, I have met many people just like you. Take heart. It is possible to create a system that will work for you so that you can get organized and stay organized.
The biggest challenge is starting.
Doing something with your photos often gets put off because it's important, but not necessarily urgent. Other urgent (though not necessarily important) projects take priority.
But do you want your children and grandchildren to have a piece of their life story, and their family history, when they are older? Then it's important to take action now.
So let's talk about some simple steps to simply starting.
1. Begin gathering your images in one place. If they're printed already and you have them in shoeboxes or albums, pull them out and put them in one place, all together. Then as you find others in drawers or under the bed (here's hoping there are none stored in the attic), you can add to your stack, creating a central work area.
If you have digital images, look through your emails, on flash drives and on memory cards. Start by making a list of ALL of the places these digital images are hiding. The second step will be to bring all those into one location, perhaps onto an external hard drive.
2. Next, follow the ABCs of Photo Organization:
A is for ALBUM. Your most important, most cherished photos belong in an ALBUM. Free yourself from thinking that every photo is album-worthy. It's not.
B stands for BOX. If a photo is important enough to keep but not necessarily go into an album, it should be stored in an archival-quality box, or backed up thoroughly if digitized. The more details of time, person, and location that you have attached to the images, the better. But don't use ballpoint pen on the back of the image; it can bleed through and leave marks.
C is for CAN. (You thought I was going to say Cookie, didn't you?) These photos can go in your Trash Can or Delete File. Toss duplicates, blurry, unflattering photos and excess scenery shots.
S stands for STORY. Keep any photos that tell a story. If you only have one photo from Dad's high-school graduation, even if it's a little blurry it's probably still a keeper. Use caution before tossing history.
3. Consider how you want to sort your photos. Our natural tendency is to do so chronologically, but because we take so many more images now, that can be overwhelming. Consider sorting by theme - vacations, sports, school, holidays, heritage, for a few example - or by child and then by theme. The exact themes will be different for each family. Themes also can be sorted chronologically.
4. Make a plan for safeguarding your photos. We recommend that you store and save your photos three ways. Besides the computer drive that your digital images are stored on, you should have an external hard drive where your photos are backed up regularly, and another automatic backup on cloud storage. Backing up in multiple locations will ensure your photos are safe in the event of a theft or natural disaster. If you have printed photos that came from negatives, it would be wise to scan the most important and create a digital backup of those.
5. Print your favorites. If you have digital photos you love, print them or put them in a digital StoryBook that gets printed and backed up on cloud storage. This is a reliable way to ride out the many technological changes that come our way. Everyone will have eyes in 50 years, but technology will have changed greatly in that time.
6. Tell your stories. The stories behind the photos are what give them meaning and lasting value. Once you've tackled the organizational part of it, think about the stories those photos tell, and tell them.
If photo organizing feels overwhelming to you, or you simply don’t have the time, I can provide this service for you. I can recommend products for you to use and have several time packages available that may suit your needs.