Weekly Quick Tips

Get Those Photos Out of the Shoebox ~ Easy Ways to Organize, Store and Enjoy Your Photos

We wager this is a topic near and dear to your heart….who hasn’t got a backlog of photos all over the house? With summertime on the horizon, this time of year is loaded with photo opps like vacations, trips to the zoo,  and Canada Day, just to name a few. But if you’re already surrounded by heaps of disorganized photos, you may hesitate to take even more, since that’ll cause you to get even further behind in your organization. Don’t get discouraged. Here’s a simple plan for organizing your photos.

First off, CREATE GOALS FOR YOUR PHOTOS: To determine the best organizing system for your pictures, you’ll need to figure out what your goal is. Ask yourself a few simple questions. *In what ways would you like to enjoy your photos? Hanging on walls or browsing through them in books? *Where do you see yourself looking at and enjoying pictures? *Is your goal to simply get your photos organized into a single system, so they’re safe, protected, and can be enjoyed by future generations? *Is the perfect solution somewhere between a box and a scrapbook?

Next, DECIDE ON A SORTING SCHEME:  Chronological organizing is a natural choice for sorting your photos. However, recreating accurate chronologies can be a daunting task when faced with a mountainous backlog. Here are some great alternatives.

  • Loose chronological categories: decades, seasons or categorize chronologically by an individuals’s baby years, childhood, teen years, college years, early married years, and so on.
  • Events and celebrations: consider sorting by significant events such as weddings, Christmases (with all years grouped together), favourite travel destinations, etc.
  • People: decide if you’d like to share some of your photos with friends and family members, and then sort accordingly. Giving photos to friends and loved ones can help you pare down the years of backlog, and make your project less overwhelming. Decide who you’re sharing with then make piles such as ‘photos for me’, ‘photos for others’ (as many piles as  people you’ll be giving to), ‘photos to discard’.

*If you’re hesitant to sort using a non-chronological scheme, consider this: You don’t remember chronologically either. Memories come to you randomly, and yet your memories are meaningful regardless of how they’re sandwiched between your thoughts.

Now, STORE YOUR PHOTOS: The next step is to decide how you would like to store your photos going forward. Keep in mind that this doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. If the thought of doing something with ALL of your photos seems overwhelming, then start with a small, doable project. For each solution we’ll provide, below, there is a trade-off between the time you invest, and your ability to retrieve or enjoy your photos.

  • Random, bulk storage: If your photos are stored in various rooms, drawers and containers throughout your home, or if they’re stored in a harsh climate (think the garage, basement or attic), then corralling them all into an archival safe box and storing them in one place is a huge step forward! The tradeoff? Your photos won’t be much easier to enjoy afterward, however they are protected.
  • Photo boxes: Today’s photo boxes comes in an array of colours, materials and sizes, with tabbed index cards to label and categorize what’s inside. They can be a short-term holding place, or a long-term storage solution. The tradeoff? While they’re great for organizing and retrieving your photos, they don’t display your pictures or make them easy to look at. Boxes are a great option for photos you simply want to store long-term, perhaps to give your children when they move out, or for photos in queue for an album or photo frame.
  • Photo Albums: Traditional style photo albums get your pictures out of the box and into a book, making it simple to flip through the pages any time you want to take a stroll down memory lane. The tradeoff? It will take more time to get your photos into an album, and photos stored in albums take up more space than photos stored in boxes. However, they are easier to look at.
  • Scrapbooks: Scrapbooking allows you to combine your photos with written words and creative embellishments, if you choose. You can store your photos along with memorabilia, such as ticket stubs, programs or even children’s artwork, including journalling or stories. The tradeoff? Scrapbooking requires a larger investment of time and money. But, like photo albums, a finished scrapbook is a breeze, and a treat, to flip through and enjoy, and helps to protect your photos.
  • Photo Frames: Don’t forget to display some photos where you can really enjoy them, in frames that you can exhibit on a shelf, dresser or hang on a wall. While this isn’t a practical solution for all of your collection, displaying some of your favourites allows you to enjoy your photos every day. The tradeoff? Displaying your photos can take time selecting the photos, getting enlargements made if necessary, buying the frames, and arranging them on the wall. But, you get to enjoy them all the time!

Time to take action! Let’s face it, photos are important, probably among your more prized possessions, and while the trend may be towards digital storage, there isn’t a home we’ve worked in that isn’t overflowing with photos! Yet, many of us keep photos trapped in remote storage areas in our homes. Take some time this summer to get your photos out of the shoebox and into a safe accessible storage system, so you can easily enjoy them for years to come. Tackle this project one step at a time. Want to feel and immediate payoff? Once you’ve gathered your photos from each area, remove any duplicates, blurred, out-of-focus and people you don’t know, and discard. That’s a great way to start! We hope this has helped you create a game plan to get your old photos out of boxes and into an organized system that lets you enjoy your photos, and the precious memories they hold.

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