Organize photos to make them more accessible and easier to enjoy and share because you can find that certain photo you're looking for quickly. Your printed photos will also be safe once they are organized and stored properly in photo-safe albums, boxes or envelopes.
First gather all your photos and bring it to a room like the guest room or craft room where you will not have to move your photos until you are done organizing them. If you have photos in the envelopes that they came in from the store, leave them in the envelope because each envelope will usually belong to one category (more on category later).
If you have a lot of photos to organize and you don’t have time to organize them all at once, you can start with last 5 years. Start with the oldest and continue year by year until you are finished.
Next step when you organize photos is to sort and separate them into piles by person, occasion/event (like graduation, vacation, holidays etc.) and year. Also make a group/category for miscellaneous photos that does not belong in any of the categories.
You can give duplicates or similar looking photos to grandparents and other family members or friends if you prefer. Discard all of the photos that are too dark, out of focus or unflattering.
Put each group of photos in an acid free photo safe box or envelope. Make sure those envelopes are made specifically for long-term photo storage.
If you put the photos in photo albums and also scrap book, use different boxes for the photos that go in the albums and scrap book.
Put any old photos that need restoration in a separate box. You can have those cleaned up or reprinted when you have time.
Label the boxes in the provided space outside the photo box.
Organize photos from each box chronologically so they are easy to retrieve. To make organizing easy, choose one box or category to organize and only proceed to the next box/category after you finish with that one.
Depending on the number of photos you have, get acid free photo albums to meet your needs. Use the photo storage boxes for the overflow/miscellaneous photos.
Buy extras of the the type and color of albums that you like for future use. If you are storing the albums in a book shelf or similar open space, this will provide a clean and clutter free look rather than mismatched albums that vary in sizes and colors.
Put photos into the album sleeves in chronological order. If you only want to put a small selected number of photos from each category in an album, store the rest in photo safe boxes and label them.
You can also designate album(s) for each family member and their photos from birthdays, events, vacations, holidays etc. This way you only need to only look in a particular album to find the photo that you are looking for.
We have a photo album just for vacations and my daughter has her own album with photos arranged chronologically from birth onwards.
Designate an album or box to store irregular sized or large photos (like 8 x 10).
Store photos in acid free photo safe albums, boxes and envelopes to ensure the longevity of the prints. Don’t store them in the attic, basement or garage if they are not temperature controlled as extreme heat and humidity can ruin your photos. Also if you like to write on/label the back of the photos, make sure to use acid free photo safe pens and materials to do so.
Get a photo CD also when you develop each roll of film if you are not working with a digital camera. For organizing digital photos, please see my Organize Digital Photos article. Get a CD wallet to store the photo CDs.
Maintenance is crucial. Develop photos after each event and put them in albums or boxes as soon as possible. This will be more manageable than doing everything at the end of the year.
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