Did you know that we take more photos in 2 minutes today, than all of humanity took in the 1800’s? Photos are the memory keepers of our personal story. They are reminders of love, laughter, good times, vacations, family, friends and traditions.  They help us reflect and remember a life well lived. Yet today we are at risk of losing our visual inheritance to natural disasters, technological obsolescence and digital overload.

The ability to take and share thousands of photos in an instance has lulled us into thinking that those photos will always be available to us but too often, that isn’t the case. Over the coming weeks I will share tips on how to organize your backlog of printed photos, digital photos, media and memorabilia. The goal is to help you choose the photos that matter the most and turn them into keepsake stories that you can enjoy for generations to come. Photos are more likely to be enjoyed when they take center stage in your home. We’ll explore ways to get them back into your life!

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Tip #1 Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time When Photo Organizing

Do you have boxes of printed photos tucked away in various places in your home? Are they hiding in drawers, boxes and bins? Getting your printed photos organized starts with gathering everything into one place. Designate a space that becomes the “gathering place” or “memory place”. Next, set up a small table, place two or three large storage boxes beneath the table, and begin to hunt for your photos. Most likely, you will find them still in the envelopes from the one-hour photo lab you once frequented or stuffed into drawers and shoeboxes in your attic or basement.  While searching don’t start sorting yet or reminiscing! If you do, you will quickly become overwhelmed. There will be time for that later. I love this quote by Creighton Abrahms, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” That is how you should view photo organizing, just take it one photo, one memory at a time.  Next week I will share a simple acronym; The ABC’S of photo organizing to help with your first bite.

 

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# 2 Sticky Notes and Colored Index Cards Help Photo Organizing

Sometimes the best system for getting organized, is the simplest one. Now that you have gathered your photos into one place, let’s get sorting. In order to keep track of your photos and create a system, you will need a few items. Sticky notes, colored index cards, large plastic storage bags and a pen are inexpensive tools that can help you begin the sorting process.  (I will discuss archival storage options in an upcoming post.)

Often people think sorting by date is the most logical approach. Was Johnny four or six in this photo? Was this 1965 or 1970? Christmas 2004 or 2001?  Rather than starting chronologically, I suggest you start with themes using the colored index cards.  Take the time to look at what you took photos of, if you are like most people it will be these categories;  birth, toddler years, childhood, weddings, first day of school, vacations, holidays, scenery, snow or beach days, family gatherings etc. Choose a colored index card and make a note with a heading in the categories you most often took photos. Lay those out on your table and begin to place the photos in the categories. Don’t worry about the chronological timing right now or the desire to reminisce. Just get the photos sorted into piles based on themes. If you find your attention wandering, break the job down into small chunks of time. Set a timer for 45 minutes and don’t stop until the timer goes off, take a break and start again.  Repeat this over the coming days and weeks until you have emptied the storage boxes and your photos are sorted into piles.