I have taken more pictures in one day than I used to take in an entire year.
We are constantly taking snapshots of our lives. I remember the days when we had to be more conservative with the number of photos we took because there were only 24 pictures on a roll of film and you had to pay to get them developed! Today, smartphones give us instant gratification allowing us to capture and share our most precious and even our most obscure moments.
The task of organizing the enormous cache of digital and printed photos can seem insurmountable. Most often, it prevents most people from attempting it altogether and typically falls under the category, “I'll do that someday." As with most projects, the hardest part is knowing where to start.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to give you the motivation to dive into the boxes or drawers full of photos or organize your digital photos so you can easily find, enjoy and keep these precious memories for future generations.
First, what’s your goal? Do you want to put them into photo albums, create a scrapbook or are you looking for the best way to manage and store your digital photos?
Organizing Digital Photos
While you can pay for photo organizing software, there are many free software tools available. Which one is right for you? Here are two that consistently receive high ratings:
Google Photos provides free, unlimited storage for your digital photos and is available on Android or iPhone. There is also a web-based version of Google Photos for uploading pictures and videos from PC’s and Macs. The software makes it easy to find your photos and you can tag and sort them by person, place or date. You can also share your photos with others and backup unlimited photos and videos for free.
Apple Photos stores pictures in a cloud, and you can search them by location, keyword tags, or year. You can build and share albums directly in the app, even including music, titles, and transitions to bring your photo albums to life. Also like Google Photos, you can edit images and short videos to ensure you are sharing only the best images with your loved ones.
Try to get in the habit of editing your digital photos as soon as you take them, rather than putting it off and doing it “someday.”
Organizing Printed Photos
There are several options for storing your photos, but most importantly, you want to choose something that is water resistant and in an area that will never come in contact with water. Store them in a climate controlled place, ideally, 75 degrees or cooler with good ventilation and low humidity.
Tools you will need:
Containers to hold photos during the sorting process. This will help keep your project manageable and allows you to stop and come back to it more easily. Depending on how many you have, shoe boxes or envelopes work well. Be sure to write the month or year or category on each box or envelope.
Photo safe, acid-free pens or pencils to record dates and names on backs of pictures
Gather several containers and use them to sort your pictures. Toss any pictures that are blurry and reduce scenic pictures to only the very best. No one wants to flip through four pages of Mount Rushmore! Eliminate duplicate pictures – share or use them in scrapbooks instead. Write the dates and names of people on the back of pictures using a photo safe pen. If you don’t know the exact date, some photos have printed dates on the back, or look at clothing and hairstyles and do your best guess. Luckily, there are no photo police!
Most people tend to store them chronologically; start by year and then categorize by month if possible. Sort through all of your photos first before putting them in albums.
Photo Albums – avoid self-stick or magnetic pages and instead choose albums that use acid-free paper or plastic sleeves. If you still have old photos in self-stick albums, take them out and store them elsewhere.
Photo Storage Boxes are a great alternative to photo albums if you have the storage space and don’t want to mess with putting them in albums. Look for boxes that are acid-free and lignin-free which will keep your precious memories safe. Choose photo boxes that have dividers with labels so you can sort them by categories. Or, try a Photo Keeper that includes small, clear inner cases so you can look at the top photo and get an idea of what is in each case. Keep in mind that if you choose plastic storage, they may not be acid-free. Attach labels to indicate the date or event.
Digitize Your Photos – you may want to consider scanning and digitizing your photos. You can scan the photos yourself or hire a company to do it for you. Hiring a company to do it for you can be expensive, but whatever method you choose, the benefit is that you will be creating a way to easily find and share memories.
What should you do with the extra photos? If you can’t bear to toss away any photos, sort them into piles and share them with your family or friends. It’s a unique gift and a great way to rekindle stories of special times.
Scrapbooks – use duplicate photos to capture special memories. Make themed scrapbooks such as: school days, holidays, vacations, sports, music, pets, your family tree, Christmas or birthday cards, hobbies or career accolades. Get the whole family involved and have them create their own scrapbooks.
Other ideas for photos:
Make a photo gallery wall in your house
Frame special pictures and give them as gifts
Make a video slideshow for a special occasion
Create a photo collage using a site such as Mixtiles
Load pictures into a digital frame for yourself or as a gift
Choose a favorite photo or two and print them on canvas to display in your home
Create a digital photo book. Mixbook, Picaboo, Shutterfly and Snapfish receive the best reviews
Is the thought of organizing your pictures still too overwhelming? Hire a photo organizing professional. You can locate one near you through the Association of Professional Photo Organizers.
Once you get started, I think you will find that organizing photos is a fun and relaxing project that you can do yourself or enlist the whole family. It is definitely a sure way to share a few laughs and reflect on cherished times together.
I really enjoy taking pictures and would love to take photography lessons which will surely mean that I will be taking more pictures than I do now. For any of you that also love capturing that perfect shot, here are tips for how to take a picture of a sunrise or sunset (courtesy of Picaboo.com).