Now that it’s getting colder, it’s time to start tackling that list of indoor projects. And what better project could you do on a snowy day than take a trip down memory lane and sort through old photos to create albums and collections? It may seem like a daunting task, but with a few easy steps, you’ll find organizing your photos is not so bad.
The Photo Organization Process
Pull out the hot chocolate, those shoe boxes of pictures, and get ready to sort your piles of photos into wonderfully organized collections and albums. If you're considering digitizing photos, organizing your collection is a great way to prepare your photos for the scanning process. Here are a few simple steps for organizing photos.
Step 1: Gather Your Photos and Supplies
Visit the attic, the basement, the storage unit, the closets, under the bed, and unpack your grandmother’s trunk. You know there are hoards of photos in all those places, and gathering them up is the first step to an organized collection.
If you plan on sorting photos into albums, be prepared by having a few empty albums on-hand. You can also purchase boxes for safe photo storage for the photos you don’t put in albums.
Step 2: Create a Sorting Scheme(s)
Once you have all your photos in front of you, you should decide how you will categorize and sort your photos. Even if you plan on digitizing photos in the future, having a strong organization system can be used to keep your collection manageable in hard copy and for digital storage.
Try a “loose” chronological system.
Sometimes sorting chronologically gets tedious, so instead of sorting by years or months, focus on decades, seasons, or holidays. If you want to stick to a tighter yet easier chronological system, sort by person using baby and childhood years, teens, 20’s or college years, and then moving onto big life events like the first ten years of marriage.
Sort by events.
If you don’t have a large family, break down chronologically by events and celebrations, or use this as your main system. Think weddings, holidays, vacations, or places lived.
Sort according to who you want to share photos with.
If you plan giving printed photos to friends or family or on DVD’s or online albums, sort according to what photos you’re giving away, to whom, and which ones you’re keeping for yourself.
Create a discard pile.
A few random, irrelevant photos have probably made their way into your collection by now. If you come across a photo that really doesn’t mean anything to you, feel free to throw it out. This way you can clear out some space in your collection for the memories you actually want to keep.
Step 3: Create Goals for Your Photo Collection
This may sound more complicated than it is, but you need to figure out what you want to achieve once you have photos in one convenient place. Create an organization system, which you can easily achieve by asking yourself a few questions:
What do you ultimately want to do with your photos? Create albums? Showcase photos? Store them safely?
How will you store albums or sorted photos?
Where will you store albums and photos?
Are you planning to digitize photos for secure, long-term storage, or will you leave them as prints?
This can help determine what kind of storage you want them in and help you create piles.
Sort your photos by albums, storage, or to send to a photo scanning service. For example, you may want to create an album of your child’s elementary school years and put aside a stack of your parents’ anniversary photos to be digitized. Separating your photos accordingly makes for easy retrieval at a later date.
Step 4: Store Photos Securely
Once your photos are organized, you will want to store them securely so they are safe and easily accessible. Acid-free boxes created specifically for photo storage are a safe way to store photos.
If you live in a humid environment, store your photos in a waterproof case.
Albums are one of the best ways to store your photos so they remain damage free because the photos are stored and protected individually.
Is your goal simply to preserve and protect by digitizing photos?
If so, you may not need to do tons of sorting! Just ship them to a photo scanning service, and you’ve successfully preserved and protected memories for generations to come!