So many of my clients have this very problem – countless envelopes filled with photos that have never been sorted, filed, stored, looked at and are now getting way out of hand. “How on earth can we get on top of all these year’s worth of memories?” they cry!
A recent letter to Unclutterer.com handled this very problem so I have picked out the top 7 tips to organising your photo collection:
- Pick a Saturday on your calendar when you can sort through all of the photographs. Keep the day free of all other obligations. Wear comfortable clothes, have your favorite snacks on hand, and play your favorite music. Going through all of the pictures is going to take time and a lot of mental energy. Give yourself the day and don’t rush.
- You’re going to want to sort the pictures into two groups: Trash and Keep. Obviously, you’ll throw out and/or shred the Trash pictures at the end of the sorting process. Get rid of any blurry ground shots or ones where the flash didn’t go off and you can’t identify anything in the photo. Duplicates, photographs you can’t stand, and anything else you don’t want to keep because it’s associated with a negative experience can go into the Trash pile, too.
- The Keep pile will be the photographs you plan to store and look at from time-to-time. As you decide to keep them, lay them out onto a cleared floor or dining table. I suggest making piles by decade (1970s, 1980s) or life stage (elementary school, middle school, high school). When you put the photographs in albums, you can organize in more detail by months and years.
- Once all of the images you have chosen to keep have been sorted, you may choose to bundle and box the photographs and have them professionally scanned. If you have the images scanned, I also recommend uploading a copy to a private Flickr or Photobucket account. This way, you can easily share the images with your family and friends, and you have a back up copy in case a fire, flood, or other disaster destroys the originals.
- When you have the original images back from being scanned, you can sort them in more detail and put them into albums. You may decide that since you have digital copies of the photographs that you don’t want to keep the originals.
- Write information about the images next to the photographs in the album, or type the information into the Notes field of the digital file. This way, you’ll know who is in the picture, when it was taken, and why you chose to keep the picture. These can be great reminders when, years from now, you have forgotten some of this information.
- If you use photo albums, store them in a place where you can easily look at them and enjoy them whenever you want. Keeping them in a box in a closet or a basement makes it difficult to view these memories. Also, you may find a few favorites in the tote that you want to frame and enjoy every day.