Organizing Your Shoeboxes of Photos
Do you have boxes of printed photos hiding under your bed, in the attic or tucked away in a closet? Here are six tips perfected by professional photo organizers that will help you get your photos out of the boxes and back into your life.
1. Hunt & Gather: Before you can start organizing, you need to get all of your photos in one spot and access the mess. Shoeboxes, albums, envelopes, old slide carousels, and home movies, gather them all so you can make a plan.
2. Visualize Success: What is your goal? Many people want to ensure their favorite photos are safely backed up and easy to find and share. Write down your goal and a due date to help you stay on track.
3. Sort and Shed: Many professional photo organizers use a simple acronym I developed called the ABC’S to organize and identify which photos to keep and which pictures to toss. “A” is for “album worthy,” “B” is for “box, the extras you aren’t ready to part with but don’t need to digitize, “C” is for “can.” Yes, you can throw photos in the trash can. This simple step will ensure you enjoy your pictures in the future because you’ll have a manageable collection. “S” is for “story”: Does the photo tell a story worth sharing. A picture of your father making a silly face may bring back wonderful memories, even if as a teenager, you felt embarrassed.
4. Take Good Notes: Once you have a structure in place, set up some index cards in sorting boxes or on a table, and use these to group your photos as you sort. Add names, dates, location, and stories you remember.
5.Digitize and Back Up: Your printed photos are vulnerable to fire, flood, natural disasters, human carelessness, natural decay, or an unexpected tragedy. This is why once your sorting is done, the next step is to scan all the photos — and your index cards — and backup on an external hard drive and the cloud. You can scan yourself or hire a professional.
6. Enjoy Your Photos: The most crucial takeaway is now that your photos aren’t trapped in a box, they can be shared with friends and family. Your children, your children’s children, and many more generations to come will be able to piece together the history of your family because you dedicated the time and energy to creating a meaningful storyline.
Now get out there and dig up those boxes and boxes of photos and if you need help, go to APPO to find a professional photo organizer near you.
Cathi Nelson, author of Photo Organizing Made Easy, is the founder of APPO (Association of Professional Photo Organizers), a membership organization dedicated to helping thousands of entrepreneurs from around the globe build successful photo preservation and organizing businesses.