© 2020 Jennifer Johnson

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Photo Organization Tips

Remember the days of filling up a roll of film, dropping it off at a photo center, and anxiously awaiting for your photos to be developed? Technology has increased our access to photos and made photo storage a lot less space consuming, but now more than ever we need to be intentional when considering what to keep and what to toss when it comes to photos.

In today’s blog I’m going to outline some of my guidelines for helping determine what photos are essential for keeping – whether digital or physical. I’ll also share my tips for storing photos in both formats so that you can rest assured that your photo collection will be carefully curated for years to come!

What to toss:

Let’s get the dirty work done first. I want you to gather all the photos in your house into a single location. That includes boxes of framed photos, albums, loose photographs - all of it! Preferably use a work space that you can leave everything out and accessable since this process is not one that can be done in a single session. Photo curating and organizing takes a lot of thoughtful time and energy devoted to sorting.

I recommend making multiple passes through your photos starting with the easiest decisions first.

1. Toss any blurry, red eye, or photos that are poor quality. If it’s the only photo you have of your grandma and it’s a blurry shot – obviously hang on to that one! But in general, it is safe to toss those photos that are not distinguishable or clear.

2. Landscape photos. With today’s technology we can pull up a photo of any mountain, lake, or beach. In my opinion, standard point and shoot shots of these features are not necessary in the long run. I do however keep photos of a landscape if my family is posed in front of it.

3. Statues, animals at zoos, flowers, landmarks, food – unless you have a career devoted to one of these categories, storing photos of these things is not necessary!

4. Action shots. We tend to keep multiple photos of a single event. For example, Christmas morning present opening, sports games, performances, etc. I like to take the quality over quantity approach and if there are 20 photos of a single event, narrow it down to a select few that could be frame worthy or truly capture a unique moment in time.

5. Professional studio photos. My kids are still young so I’m not sure what the school photo trading procedures are like in today’s high schools, but I vividly remember receiving my wallet size school photos, writing a message to each of my friends on the back, and exchanging them at school. If you have duplicate studio photos of yourself or family, it is safe to toss all but just a couple copies of each photo session.

Ok, now what?!

Now that you have done the quick and dirty sort through, it’s time to take your photo decision making to another level. On your next pass through, ask yourself, is this frame worthy? In a curated collection, does this photo spark joy and does it stand as a representation of a moment in time you want to remember forever? I think a lot of times we hold on to photos that might not have value to us because no one has ever given us permission that it is okay to throw away photos. With digital technology this task is much easier to do, but with physical photos it is much harder to actually throw them away. There is something about actively taking a photo and putting it in the garbage that feels shameful, versus just clicking delete on your phone – yet both actions have the same results. Making decisions like these can be empowering. Especially if you are in a position of feeling like your drowning in the weight of hundreds of photo albums and boxes of photos.

Photo Storage

When you have narrowed down your collection, I recommend storing your photographs in these photo cases. You can organize them by date, event, or person. There is no right or wrong way as long as it works for you!

For digital photos I make it a point to regularly go through my photo collection and delete the unnecessary. There are apps that can help you sort your photos and then automatically select the best in a series, making the process of batch deleting a breeze. I create folders for things I need to access frequently and make sure to always back my photos and videos up to the cloud. We subscribe to unlimited Amazon Photo and Video Storage to ensure that none of our digital photos are ever lost. I once lost all our digital photos on our hard drive and paid over $2500 to send it off to some high-tech Silicon Valley lab that was able to recover almost 95% of what was thought lost forever. Now I know better!

Ready, Set, Sort

A project like this can seem daunting, but once done it is such a huge relief to know that all those treasured memories are thoughtfully stored away. Have you tackled photo organization already? What tips do you have to share?