If you ask people what possessions they are most likely to salvage from their home if it was on fire, they are likely to say their photo collection. Ironically, managing our photo collections is typically a very low priority on our “To Do” list. Dealing with those shoeboxes full of print photos is one of those tasks that we all plan to tackle “someday”, am I right?
A disaster is not the only way photos can be destroyed. If our photos are not stored properly, we run the risk of losing our precious memories to damage caused by acidic papers/inks/glues, as well as mold and mildew. By devoting time to organizing and safeguarding our old print photos, we’ll be better able to enjoy them and share them with others for many generations to come.
So let’s chat about the organizing process, shall we? As a certified photo organizer, I’ve got some tips that I’d love to share.
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Organizing your Print Photos
- If your photos are scattered throughout your home, the first step is to gather all of your photos (including loose photos and photo albums) in one central location. This location should contain a large, flat work surface. A dining room table works great for this purpose.
- Before you begin sorting photos, make sure you have the necessary tools available. Your photo organizing “tool box” should include:
- Complete an initial “rough sort” by sorting your photos by decade, using shoe boxes to contain each decade.
- Next, go through each “decade box” and fine-tune your sort. I recommend sorting photos by theme. Some common themes include: Holidays, Travel/Vacations, Sporting Events, School Days, Celebrations, etc. Sorting categories are based on both your personal preference and the content of your particular collection.
- As you complete the fine-tuned sort, implement the “ABC’S Method” (developed by the Association of Personal Photo Organizers) to determine which photos to throw away, pass along to others, archive in boxes, and set aside for display/sharing:
- A Photos: Your most important and cherished photos; to be displayed in an album, frame, and/or shared online with others;
- B Photos: Important enough to keep, but not worthy of displaying necessarily; to be stored in archival quality boxes;
- C Photos: Not worthy of keeping; to be thrown away (blurry, unflattering) or given to others (duplicates);
- S Photos: Photos that might seem unimportant at first (for example, an older photo of a random house), but actually tell an important family story (the photo is the house in which your grandfather grew up).
- Try to move as quickly as possible during the sorting process and avoid reminiscing. There will be plenty of time for that, once your project is complete!
So there you have it. You’ve got a solid method for tackling that box full of print photos. Go forth and organize…then come back here and let me know how it went!
Next, we’ll discuss the ways in which you can safeguard your print photo collection once the organization process is complete.