How to Wrap Your Mind Around Photo Organization

How to Wrap Your Mind Around Photo OrganizationAre you overwhelmed just thinking about organizing your photos? You’re certainly not alone. I have clients, friends and family members who have boxes of old photos and a computer filled with a mishmash of photos. Where to begin? What to keep? Digital vs. physical? Huh???

Try these ideas for organizing them:

Think of your photos in three categories.  Whether physical or digital, you can break down your photos into these categories:

  1. TREASURES– a key selection of the best photos

Tip: the ones you want to grab should the house be on fire.

  1. KEEPERS – the ones you value but don’t want to invest too much time or money

Tip: the ones that trigger good memories or are beautiful.

  1. TOSSERS – duplicates, inferior quality or plain old boring

Tip: they don’t make you smile or look similar to the ones that do.

You’ll need to make some basic decisions.  This is the hard part but it needs to be done at the outset of the project.

Decision 1: How do you want to preserve the TREASURES?

Do you want to combine the physical and digital photos into concise collections? Consider these as “coffee table books” that you’ll share with family and friends and peruse periodically on your own.

Here are your options:

  1. Photo Albums – have the digital Treasures printed and compiled
  2. Digitally-created Photo Albums – have the physical Treasures scanned, create the photo album online (Shutterfly, ScrapGirls, etc.) and have printed
  3. Digital Photo Frame or Digital Slide Show – have the physical Treasures scanned and upload or create in your photo editor

Decision 2: How do want to save the KEEPERS?

Do you want to leave the physical Keepers as they are or have them digitized? Do you want to dismantle and cull existing photo albums?

Consider these options:

  1. Leave both physical and digital Keepers as they are and edit
  2. Digitize the physical Keepers and organize all photos
  3. Print the digital Keepers and organize with the physical photos

My recommendations:

  1. Leave the Keepers in their current form. Spend your time and money preserving the Treasures and organizing the Keepers.
  2. Organize in chronological order by event; document and label well.

Decision 3: How will you carve out time to work on the photo project?

This is a big (and fun!) project that takes time. Analyze your calendar and work style and make a commitment. For example, would two Saturday afternoons a month work for you? In the evenings when you’re watching TV? Make appointments with yourself and mark the times in your calendar.

I truly hope you enjoy the process because to me, photos are the BEST memory triggers. Be very selective in what you keep because the next generation does not want to go through your photos – they just want your TREASURES.

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Ellen Tozzi

About Ellen Tozzi

Ellen Tozzi is a Greater Philadelphia professional organizer with Natural Order based in Lawrenceville, NJ.
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