Friday, January 15, 2010

Organization Challenge #3 - Photos

Organizing Photos

Organizing photos can be a daunting task, especially when you have decades to sort through. This is probably one of the most time-consuming tasks, but it will also be one of the most rewarding. Set aside a significant chunk of time to handle this task. It really should be done start to finish in one session because if you take a long break, it’s tempting to just put those photos back in a box and tackle them, “some other time.” Clear your schedule on a weekend day, send the kids (and the pets) off with dad, and spread out. Consider asking a friend to come over and provide moral support. Put on some of your favorite music, make yourself snacks that you love, and then gather every single photo in your home and put it into one area. Make sure you find every single photo, even the ones that are hidden behind your framed photos throughout your home.

Before you begin, decide how you want to sort your photos. Ask yourself how will you look for them when you need them? How will you scrap them? What system will make them the easiest to retrieve? Some possibilities are:

· Chronologically – this may seem to be the most logical option, but if it doesn’t make sense for the way you scrapbook, find another option that works better for you.

· Holiday/Event/Vacations – do you create themed albums by holiday, birthday, vacation, etc? Consider sorting in a way that would make these photos easier to find.

· Person – if you have separate albums for each person in your family, it may be easier to have separate categories for each one.

· Periods of Life – this works particularly well for heritage photos, since the actual details may be difficult to determine. It may make scrapbooking these photos less intimidating if you have them broken down into times of life.

Sort, Purge and Assign

Depending on the amount of photos you have, you may be able to sort these on a dining room table, or you may need an entire room to really spread out. Make signs for your categories – i.e. for chronological, have a sign for every year, for vacations, create a sign that says, “Disney World,” and so on. If you’ve vacationed in the same spot through the years, you may want to make separate piles for each year you’ve gone.

Now is the time to decide if you want to put some of your favorite duplicates into a photo album for your coffee table, give away any photos, or if you see a small scrapbook in your mind based on photos you’ve gone through, set those aside for yourself in a clearly labeled category. Don’t worry about being neat at this point (although make sure your piles do not slide into each other), the neatness will come in the next stage.

Now is also the time to throw out any bad photos – blurry, dark, etc.

Once you’ve gone through the first sorting stage, it’s time to take each pile and decide if you need to further sort chronologically or if the photos make sense to you just as they are – this is completely up to you and your organizational style.


Now that you have your photos all sorted out, decide how you want them to be stored. Cropper Hopper photo cases and photo holders are an excellent option, cardboard photo boxes are another, or you can store the photos you plan to scrap the soonest in a container nearest your scrap area. Just make sure whatever system you use is clearly labeled for easy retrieval later. Larger photos can be stored in a 12 x 12 Expo, a Paper Holder, Cropper Hopper’s large photo case, or a file folder.

Negatives can be stored with your photos or in a negative binder. If you store your negatives away from your photos, be sure to include the index sheet or a written note with each set, so you know exactly what’s on each sleeve, and you don’t have to pull them out and touch them each time. You can also store negatives in Cropper Hopper 4 x 6 Photo/Negative holders so you have them handy to make reprints.


Make sure that your system is one that will make it easy to organize your future photos. Once you have it down, you should put your pictures away as soon as you have them in your hands, and they will be easy find when you are ready to use them. Customize your system so that it is picture perfect for you