Organize your Printed photos

Often the thought of the work it might take to organize your photos seems overwhelming and the hardest part is getting started.  Here are some simple steps to get you on the road to organizing your printed photos.

  1.  Find a workspace and get some basic supplies together.  Do you have a space where you can set up a table and leave it up for a while?  Here are some items you might want to gather.
    • Get some extra photo boxes for sorting
    • Paper for writing down your timeline of important events to help sort photos
    • Soft leaded pencil for writing on the back of pictures
    • Index cards and a photo safe pen for writing information about your photos
    • White gloves for handling pictures
    • Spatula/Dental floss for removing photos from sticky albums
  2. Figure out what you have.  Now is the time to look in all your nooks and crannies and move all the (disorganized) photos you have to your workspace to see how much you have.  Take an inventory.
  3. Set your priorities.  What photos will make you the happiest to organize first?  Is it a special event or maybe your child’s first year?  If your photos aren’t too disorganized, you can set this type of priority.  Maybe it is to manage the photos handed down by your parents or create an anniversary or graduation album.
  4. Do a rough sort of your pictures.  You can try to sort chronologically maybe just starting with decades, you can also choose to sort thematically in categories such as birthdays, weddings, school, travel or vacations etc.  You can divide these into photo boxes to tackle in increments later.
  5. Do a fine sort of your photos.  If you are sorting chronologically here is where you can break them down to year, month and event, when possible.  This is when you will start getting an idea of how many pictures you have of specific events. 
  6. Now you can start identifying the photos to keep and which to toss.  Association of Personal Photo Organizers recommends the ABC method
    • “A” is for “album”: These are the photos that belong in an album, and you would be most upset if they were lost. These are the photos to digitize, back up, share and display.  You don’t have to put all these pictures into albums; it just means they are album-worthy.
    • “B” is for “box”:  These photos are the ones you aren’t ready to part with but want to have access to at some point in the future. These photos will be archived for safekeeping but not necessarily digitized.
    • “C” is for “can”: Yes, you can throw them in the trash. This is for duplicates, poorly framed photos and generally bad photos.
    • “S” is for “story”: Does the photo tell a story? Sometimes we keep a photo that otherwise doesn’t look great but has a special story attached to it.  Maybe it is the only photo you have of a relative that has passed away. 
  7. Use your index cards and include information about your favorite photos.  Dates, identifying people in the picture, writing about the event that took place are all good things to include.  Sort these cards in front of the picture you are captioning.  These will be scanned with the photos.
  8. Digitize your photos and back them up.  Here is the backup step for printed photos.  Scan the “A” photos and integrate them with your digital photos organizational structure.  You can scan on a flatbed scanner have a service do them like Burnham Creative Group.
  9. Share!  Now you are ready to put them in photo albums or books, create slide shows with the digital files, frame, print extras for friends and family and post to social media!

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