I’ve made progress in my “One Year to More Organized Photos” project and this week I want to share what I’ve done with organizing our printed photos. If you missed it Check out Part 1 : Getting Started and join us as we get these photos under control!
It’s great to take photos but it’s really only the beginning when it comes to enjoying those precious family memories we’re trying to preserve. My main goal with this One Year to More Organized Photos project is to get our photos out and available for our whole family to enjoy together! I’m sad to admit that right now our photos mostly reside on our computer and various backup discs and hard drives and I’m doing something about that in 2015!
Organization isn’t about perfection; it’s about efficiency, reducing stress and clutter, saving time and money and improving your overall quality of life. – Christina Scalise
Through the years I haven’t been very diligent about printing my images. I mean, I’ve printed some for scrapbooking or for framing, but it hasn’t been very systematic and I’ve ended up with a few boxes of un-used photos tucked away in a closet along with the few I have printed and framed around our home. My plan this year is to print photos from each year and get them into photos albums.
For me, the process of getting ALL my photos organized (including digital images) needed to begin with the images that were already printed. As part of getting started in this whole process I spent some time gathering all of my printed images from around the house so I could see what we had. As I brought all these images together it helped me to see what had been done already and what gaps I needed to fill in as far as printing images going forward.
Sort and Purge
Once I had all my printed photos gathered together in one place (our kitchen table) I began sorting them and organizing them by year. My sophisticated sticky note system worked great as I took each printed image and determined which year it was taken and put it in it’s subsequent pile.
My kids were so excited to help me with the sorting! We enjoyed looking through old photos and reliving special memories from when they were little! We had photos spread out on the table for a few days so we picnicked in the living room for meals – but it was worth it! It turned into a little family project and it made the reasons I’m doing this all the more real. These memories are meant to be seen, enjoyed, talked about and relived over and over again and leaving them hidden on our computers or on our phones is sad.
If I could remember when a photo was taken I had my computer handy to look up dates. As I found duplicates or low-quality images that I didn’t feel I needed to include in our photo albums I threw them out. That’s right. I threw photos away. For me this process is just as much about trimming down the number of photos I have as it is about getting them out to enjoy. I take a lot of photos and weeding through them and only keeping the ones that best represent our family memories will do a lot to cut down on photo clutter.
After I’d done all the work to get these photos sorted, I needed to come up with some way to keep them organized by year. I created a set of simple dividers for each year to use in the photo boxes I already have and those will be available for free download – you’ll find the download link by scrolling down. I’ll be sorting each year by month order eventually but I haven’t gotten that far yet. When I do, these dividers / index cards will be perfect for jotting down the major dates and events from each year and for keeping these photos organized until the time comes when I’m able to transition them into photo albums.
These photo divider cards are just the right size to fit inside a standard size photo box. The divider tabs are blank, I added the years using photo editing software, but you can just as easily write on them with a pen. If you want to get fancy and use your computer to label your photo dividers I’ve included a JPG set of the cards that can be used at picmonkey.com to add your own text.
I plan to record dates and basic information on the backs of my photos as well and I’ve done some research on how to do this the safest way possible. I have a few photos from my childhood that my Grannie was very diligent about writing dates and details on and she recorded those things in ball point pen. Now, many years later, that pen is showing through on the other side of the images and has ruined a handful of precious photos. It’s important to have those details recorded on your printed images, but it’s even more important to make sure you record them safely to preserve the images over the years.
Tips for Writing on Photos Safely
1. Choose the right pen – The number one thing to consider when it comes to writing on your photos safely is choosing the right pen. You need to be sure you’re using an “archival” pen. The term archival refers to the pens “permanence, durability, or chemical stability.” You want your pen to be archival quality to ensure your writing won’t bleed through, fade or damage your photos over time.
Other things to look for in a good pen in addition to it being archival quality: it should be permanent, quick-dry, non-toxic and fade-resistant. Here are some archival quality pens to consider:
2. Allow ink to dry – Even though a lot of pens say they’re smudge-proof, I always like to make sure I allow my ink to dry for a period of time after writing on my photos before I stack them. It would be so sad to get some wet ink on the front of your photos so just to be safe give the ink a little time to dry.
3. Press lightly – When writing on a photo be sure you aren’t pressing to hard or your writing could indent the photo paper and effect the image on the front.
4. Write on the edge – One the back of your photos write along an edge, that way, if the pen you’re using does damage the photo in some way it will be confined to the edge, not the the middle of the image.
I’m really excited about the progress I’ve made so far and can’t wait to begin printing photos and organizing them as I go with my handy photo dividers. Now that I know what photos I have the next step, is to start planning what photos to print and start getting those printed images into albums!
Join me in a few weeks time to check in on my progress and remember, follow me on Instagram and share YOUR photo organization stories using the hashtag #OneYeartoOrganizedPhotos!
Have anything more to add to what I’ve shared today? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!