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New Year’s Resolution: Sort Those Loose Print Photos

By Posted in - Organizing Photos & Preserving Photos on January 19th, 2016 2 Comments Loose Print Photos

How long have those boxes, albums, and envelopes of loose print photos been taking up space in your attic, garage or basement?

If your new year’s resolutions include gaining a little more space, de-cluttering your life and gaining control of some of this chaos then let me help!

Sort & Purge Loose Print Photos

The first step we need to do is sort and purge. (Yes, you WILL be tossing out some of those printed pics!)

Step 1: Gather Your Photos

Getting your photos organized starts with getting everything in one place. Find a comfortable place in your home you can use as a temporary work station. Then, start the gathering process.

Don’t forget your photo albums. Some types of albums are not “safe” homes for your pictures. Magnetic albums, with the sticky pages, are some of the worst. These albums have both acid and the type of plastic that fade and destroy printed photos.

Tip: If you want to remember the order and arrangement of the album, take a photo of each page.

Step 2: Sort & Purge

You will need some tools to help you through this step, including:

  • Two containers, one labeled “A” and one labeled “B”
  • A pair of white, 100% cotton gloves will help keep fingerprints off your photos
  • A photo labeling pencil (ballpoint pens can damage your photos)
  • Post-it notes
  • Some dental floss (we’ll use this to remove photos stuck in those magnetic albums)
  • Garbage bags or recycling bins

Now, it’s time to follow the ABC’s of Sorting & Purging Prints.

Loose print photosA = Album. Label any photo you think is the best of the bunch as an “A.” These are images that belong in an album or video slide show, ones you want to display or share with family and friends. These will go in the container labeled “A.”

B = Backup. Labeling a photo as a “B” means that it is important to keep for long term storage, but not necessarily are ones you need to see every day. These will go in the container labeled “B.”

C = Can (aka, trash CAN). Time to part with useless, poor quality and duplicate images. It’s time to give yourself permission to part with photos you do not want or need. The container for these “C” images would be that large garbage bag. You may want to give duplicate photos to a family member or friend who is in the picture.

S = Stories. Sorting your photos is a “walk down memory lane.” You’ll come across photos that tell a wonderful story; put these in the container labeled “A” but using your photo safe pencil mark the back with “S” so you remember to share this story.

Sorting is the most time-consuming step of the process so there’s nothing wrong with a little celebration. You’ve managed to cull that chaotic mess into two more manageable piles!

Step 3: Document

Working with your “A” photos, document as many facts as possible. On the back of the photo (using a photo safe pencil!), put details such as:

  • Date (approximate date if you don’t remember exactly)
  • Who is in the picture
  • Event
  • Story details for those marked with an “S”

Whew! Sorting, purging, and documenting a large photo collection can take some time. The best approach is to do it in multiple sessions. You’ll want to figure out how long to make a session so you don’t burn yourself out.

Or, if you prefer, that’s exactly what a professional photo organizer is for: helping you manage the photo organizing process.


Credits: This article is based on content from Your Memories At Hand LLC and the Association of Personal Photo Organizers ABC’s of Sorting. Images are courtesy of The Studio 56.

(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Diana Foster - Reply

    January 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

    You have to BEST tips and strategies for getting organized. I love that. Thanks for sharing all your expertise.

    • Kristy McClenagan - Reply

      January 25, 2016 at 7:09 am

      You are too kind, but thank you for those kind words. I love what I do and I’m happy that these are helpful tips.

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