As your family progresses through the years, you may find yourself over-run with photos, often times they are the same moments taken from different angles and so on. In the age of digital photographs, a good majority of these will be stored on computers or social media. However, for those that are actual hard copies of photos, it can be difficult to sort through and let go of some of these. Here are some tips to help you make sense of that giant box of old photos taking up space in your closet…
Choose a Day and Time and Stick to it
The very first step is to decide how much time each day or week or month you are willing to work on your photo collection. This is important because if you schedule it, you are less likely to start this photo purging project and then never finish it. If it’s in your calendar, you’ve got a better chance of sticking with it until it’s done.
Pick the same day each week, like every Wednesday, and a set time, like 8pm, and stick to it. Put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar so you won’t forget. You can pick one day per month, week, or a few days a week. All that matters is that you keep this date with your photo box until the task is done. You will feel so much better when your photos are organized and easier to enjoy!
Sorting Your Photos
Sorting your photos into categories based on the year they were taken, the people/places in them, or based on the event will help you make sense of pictures that have just been tossed into a box or bin over the years. This process will be time consuming in the short term but will save you time later when you are putting them into photo albums or deciding which photos to frame. In the future, be sure to label each actual picture you have printed right when you get it so you won’t have as much trouble deciphering them next time.
Once you have your photos sorted into categories, you can decide which ones are worth keeping and which ones are too dark, out of focus, bad angles, and so forth. Choose one category at a time and look at each photo to decide if it is high enough quality to keep. If you don’t necessarily want to keep a photo but you just aren’t ready to let it go because there is someone or something special in it, get a separate bin and label it Poor Quality Photos and toss those pictures in that bin. That way, you are not fully committing to trashing it but it is not taking up space in your nicer collection of photos that you will be displaying in some way. If you haven’t wanted or needed to open that bin in a year, maybe you can reconsider if you really need to keep those photos. You might find it easier at this point to part with them.
When you find negatives, place each set of negatives into an envelope that is labeled with what is on the negatives. Then, place those negatives in a bin labeled Negatives. Shoe box sized bins work great for this. You can even go a step further if you have a lot of negatives by making a Negatives bin for each category of photos that you have. When you need to print more of a photo later on, it will be easier to find the negatives!
Sorting by what will be framed, put into albums, and stored.
Once you have decided which photos are going to be kept, choose which ones will actually be in a frame versus which ones will be stored in photo albums. Make a To Be Framed bin and then make a Photo Album bin for each category, just to temporarily store them until you can get them framed or placed in the album. You can also create a Stored Photos bin if there are some that you definitely want to keep but don’t want to put into albums. Go through all the categories of photos and put the photos to frame in this To Be Framed bin. The rest can go in the album bins for each category.
Using Albums to Store Photos
Buy enough photo albums to store all of the photos you do not intend to frame. The great thing about storing photos in albums is that you can label each album into categories and easily find a specific photo when you need to. When your child is graduating high school and you know of some specific photos you want to submit to the yearbook, wouldn’t it be much easier to find them if you could simply pull out the album labeled Billy’s first birthday or Billy 2001? When I am storing photos in an album, I prefer to use photo albums that do not have space to write in. I just like them to be basic and hold my photos. I label photos on the back anyway so I don’t really need to label them in the book. That’s my preference, though. You should do whatever type of filing method for your photos that works best for you.
Assign the Frames and Albums a Home
Once you have framed the photos that you wanted to and stored the rest in labeled albums, you are ready to assign them a place in your home. My storage albums are on a book shelf in my guest room and the decorative albums are spread through the house where ever I want them displayed. I DO NOT store any photos in my garage, basement, or attic. Those spaces in my home are not climate controlled and I don’t want the photos to be ruined by humidity or extreme cold. My basement is climate controlled but I also don’t want them to be ruined if my basement were to flood. You may also want to make sure you buy photo albums that do not contain chemicals that will break your photos down over time.
I know organizing photos can be a daunting task! By choosing a set time each day, week, or month that you will work on them, you will keep it from feeling like an impossible task. You’ll be able to see the progress you are making and stay motivated to see it through. Once you have it all sorted out, you will feel so much better and keeping it organized will be so much easier!
If you have recently tackled your giant box of photos or created a lovely album, I’d love to hear about it! If you enjoyed this article, give it a like!
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