Preserving, organizing, and storing your paper family photos in order to enjoy them for a long time is time-consuming but highly valued work.
Gone are the days when your family might have captured a few dozen pictures a year. Nowadays, there may be huge containers and bins of photos hiding in your basement and attic begging to be organized and cherished. It makes a great project for those snowy or rainy days. Enjoy that time as you take a walk down memory lane.
To get started, separate the various mediums: slides, home movies, photo albums and loose pictures. Keep in mind you are trying to get all those boxes reduced to one perfectly edited album that will look elegant on a coffee table, or a few well-organized photo boxes in which you can find things with ease.
Decide whether to sort the photos by chronological order or by theme.
- If chronological, arrange the photos in a logical timeline; it makes identifying the people in your photos and selecting the best examples much easier.
- If thematic, sort them according to categories such as trips, birthdays, life passage events, happenings, etc.Scrapbooks can be made that tell the story of a person’s life.
Get some help from family members to identify those mystery individuals in old snapshots.
Eliminate poor quality shots, duplicates, and any pictures where you don’t know any of the people. Also toss most of the scenery shots. Be ruthless! If it doesn’t immediately bring back a memory, let it go.
Use archival pencils or pens to write the date and the subject on the back of photos with a light hand. Be careful as you want to preserve the data for generations to come, not damage the image.
Once photos are reduced in number, you can determine how you prefer to access them:
- Photo albums
- Photo boxes
- Web-based photo books such as Shutterfly, Picaboo, Canada Photobooks or directly through Apple’s iPhoto App.
For safekeeping of your photos, find a photo scanning company to digitize them. They can be stored in the cloud, or put onto a device for you to keep.
Take the time to respectfully and carefully preserve your family’s photos and memorabilia. Memories can be the most valuable things in a person’s life. Make your photo keepsakes a treasure for the future!
Lisa McDonald, Nova Scotia Member
Photographs are a great way to remember special occasions, but it’s not always easy to keep them sorted. Here are a few tips you can follow when printing or picking up your snapshots that will help you organize and protect your precious moments:
Using a photo-safe pen, label and date the back of each photo. This will help you to recall the events and people in your snapshots years from now.
Make a fun night of it with friends – have them assist you in organizing your photos. It may even help you remember stories you have forgotten or faces you don’t recognize.
Don’t have time to label each photo now? Place them in a labelled, dated envelope and file it in a storage container.
Once you have your photos labelled, decide how you want to sort them – chronologically or based on special dates and events – and place them in labelled, acid-free photo albums. Only buy photo albums after you have organized your photos. This way, you’ll know how many you need and you won’t have empty albums lying around for months.
As you sort your snapshots, set aside any photos that you want to have framed. This will save you time trying to find them later.
Want to remember something unique about a particular photo? Write or print out index cards with details about the picture and file them together in your photo album.
To keep your negatives safe, place them in a labelled envelope in a fireproof box. Make a note in the related photo album so you know where to find your negatives if you need them.
Able to load your photos to your computer? There are programs you can buy to help you organize them. You can also back them up on a CD or memory card, which should be kept in a safety deposit box for added protection.
Overwhelmed by the thought of organizing photos? Start with the set you just had developed and keep organizing with each new set. For older photos, it’s best to take on the task in multiple sessions. When you feel you’ve done enough, pack everything up and plan for the next opportunity.
© 2010 Colette Robicheau
The Organizing Coach
Phone: (902) 233-1577 Fax: (902) 455-0553
Permission to reuse or redistribute these materials is hereby granted provided they are reproduced or redistributed in their entirety with full attribution.