Our family photos are treasured keepsakes. We have bins of photos from family, duplicates from grandparents and photos from family friends at cherished events. We have been keeping these cherished memories to have time to work on this tedious, enormous project. Let’s break this paper photo organizing project into management chunks.
With a big project, you want to give yourself a project plan. In project management, we assess the budget, time and resources to do work. To start, where will the work be done? What time do you have to allocate weekly or monthly for this project? What goals do you have with this project? Is it sharing with family? Do you want to create a coffee table photo book? This planning phase will be important for you to enjoy the process and the product. The best plan gives you a space to spread out for a considerable amount of time to work on this project. Write in a time on your planner to organize. It is creating the success for your project this way.
Where are your photos hiding? It’s time to pull them out from every closet and your garage. Get these all together in one place to assess what you have to work with and organize. Consolidating makes this project efficient. It may feel overwhelming, however this is the best first step to know that you will be happy with the results. As you gather, create a storage spot inside your home to keep all these containers together to start your project.
The organizing phase for paper photos starts with categorizing. The categories can be people, events or year. People can be your children, your nuclear family and your extended family. Events include weddings, births, birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and more. It can be hardest to determine a year with paper photos. You can macro sort into boxes by person and family, then event.
Here is a decision to make. Where you organize and sort you may or may not be using the final product for storing your paper photos. Start with a sorting mechanism (think shoe box) and then decide on archival storage later. If you decide that scanning and online access is best, then you may not need these products.
As you sort and finalize your categories, be sure to use consistent naming and labeling. It can be 2020 Events or Events 2020. Either way you can create an order that works for you.
Remember all those photos we have seen without heads? Do you have wonderful photos of landscapes and have no idea where in the world this is? You might have multiples or multiples of photos. We all have duplicates and bad shots. Now is the time to edit without regret. You can let go of doubles, multiples, and any photos that bring up negative feelings (such as that broken engagement or sad times as a family.)
Photos do not need to be shredded. You can toss these or give them a proper send off if you feel uncomfortable letting these go.
Scanning is a large project and can be slow in process. It is efficient to scan all at one time. Scan and check work as you go to be sure you are capturing the images properly. With your organized photos, scan in batches. Rename your batches as you go. Use a consistent naming convention with a standard key words helps you find your photos. Consistent naming uses the category names.
Back up is critical for your scanned photos. If you haven’t noticed, it’s not IF you will need a back up, it’s WHEN. There is Backblaze and Carbonite for your computer. Some purchase photo site storage at Shutterfly and Snugmug. Having 2 or 3 back ups is key to photo preservation.
Now for the fun! It’s time to decide what you want to produce. Photo books are by far the most popular. You can make multiple copies for family members. These can be used for fun family gifts such as Christmas ornaments, mugs or mouse pads. Family slide shows are fun for reunions and big birthdays (those ending in 0 or 5).
A final word on the pitfalls of organizing paper photos.
- It is easy to get stalled out while over viewing your photos. Keep in mind how much you want to accomplish in the time you have. If you find yourself enjoying the photos too much and dragging along, set a timer to help keep you on track on your project.
- Create a team for this project. Invite your siblings and kids to be a part of the process. It will be a joy-filled time to work together.
- Outsource part of this project. There are many local companies that will scan your photos for you.
- Don’t get overwhelmed. This is a big project so carry on and organize on. Celebrate each success along the way.
Want to organize your digital photos too? Click here!