Pictures… We’ve all got them. Some of us have them organized in chronological (or maybe not-so-chronological) albums, some of us have them in scrapbooks, and the rest of us likely have them stuffed randomly in boxes. Even if you have some in albums, if I were a betting gal, I’d wager that almost all of us still have a box or 2 of pictures we haven’t gotten to yet or don’t know what to do with.
So what do we do with them?
The first thing to do is purge. With any organization project, the first step is always to weed out what you don’t need. Organizing your photos is no different.
Start with the bad ones. You know, the pics where someone’s eyes are closed, or they are out of focus, etc. And going way back to film cameras, the pics with the evil red eye. Even if the day was memorable, the fuzzy, bad, not-flattering photos aren’t the memories we want to keep.
Next, the multiples and the duplicates. You know how we take 100 shots of a family photo to get that perfect shot for our Christmas card? Well, we can eliminate 99 of those pics. With digital photography, it’s a bit less of an issue, because you probably didn’t print out all 100 shots, or you immediately deleted the bad ones. But back with film photography (which is where this whole box of random pics originated), we never knew if we had the shot or not until they were developed. So pick your favorite, or even a few, but then eliminate all the rest.
Same thing with all the duplicates of school pictures, etc. Remember that picture package with the various sizes that came with 27 wallets? And remember how you only gave out 3 or 4 of them to your friends? Yeah, that left us with 23 copies of our 4th grade picture that we really don’t need. Keep 1 to show the kids and grand kids how super cool your feathered hair was back in 4th grade, but please get rid of the rest. I beg of you. No one needs all those copies. I don’t even know if I want to remember this bad hair day and fashion nonsense. And IF you ever should need a copy, remember you can always copy the one you saved and reprint it.
Now let’s move on to the pics with people you don’t even know. Remember the next door neighbor you had 30 years ago? Remember the names of the little kids that lived on your block when your kids were little? It’s common and normal to have pictures of people and their children that we’ve drifted apart from over the years. And it’s also very normal to have forgotten some of their names. You may remember the face and have vague memories of some block party or cookout, but if you don’t remember or know the people in the picture, is it worth saving? What about pictures and albums that you acquired when cleaning out a loved one’s home? Do you know who all of those people are? The answer is likely no. You don’t have any strong feelings and attachments to people you don’t know and recognize. Therefore, it’s not necessary to keep pictures of them.
Lastly, how about all those scenic landscape pictures you took on your vacation? In the moment it seems like a great idea to take a picture of beautiful scenery, buildings and skylines. But unless you put a person in those pictures, you aren’t likely to remember as much as you think you will from that day. If you do have the memories you were hoping for, then that’s fine, keep the scenic pictures that are meaningful to you. But if you can’t recall where that bridge is, or when and where you visited that historic building, then it’s ok to let those pictures go. Remember, that’s what we have Google Images and post cards for. There is likely a much better quality photo already out there should you ever want to see it.
So now that you have hopefully been able to whittle down your collection of photos a bit, what should you do with them? Should you put them in photo albums? Or scan them and store them digitally? From here, it all comes down to personal preference and willingness.
The great thing about scanning your photos and storing them in the cloud is that it is free real estate and doesn’t take up any extra space in your home. The bad thing is that scanning the pictures is a considerable time commitment. There are some scanning apps for your phone that may make the job a bit more convenient, but there’s no getting around it – it’s a big job.
However, photo albums come with a price – both in money and space. Do you have the space to store the albums? Do you want to? There are a lot of decisions for you to make, and like I said, it all comes down to preference and willingness. The bottom line, choose what works for you, and either way, tackle the job in chunks – it’s probably way too big to do in one sitting!
One last thought I’ll leave you with is this…. it’s OK to keep a small box of random photos! Emphasis on the word “small”. When my kids were younger, it seemed I was always looking for a picture for some school project, or searching for a picture for a Facebook post, etc. So I have a small box of pictures of weddings, reunions, school pictures, etc that I keep for those purposes. It’s much more convenient to go to the box rather than hunting them down in an album. But if you have lots of boxes or tubs, it’s now less convenient for you to find what you’re looking for, so keep it small and manageable.
Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck in your photo organizing endeavor! I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have, and would love to see any before and after pics (pun intended!!) of your project!