How to Organize Your Photos

We all seem to have them, all those old photos we have in boxes, in drawers, or in odd envelopes stuck all around the house. We may have old family photos, school pictures, sentimental notes we just don't want to throw out. Today's post is about organizing those and putting them in a place where they can actually be viewed and enjoyed.

I recently had knee surgery, nothing serious, but I needed something to do that did not require a lot of walking or standing. All of my waiting projects seemed to demand a lot of both. I had begun the process of sorting through several boxes of old photos in 2013 but had stopped to clean everything up before the holidays. Now it seemed like the perfect project for me to finish. My sweet daughter-in-law agreed to take me shopping for the photo albums I needed and I was ready to begin.

The process is time consuming but well worth it. You will need to pick a space to begin your project that won't need to be cleared for some some time. I chose to use my dining room table since we tend to just use it for holiday dinners, but even a guest room bed would do for the sorting process.

You will need:
  • 3 ring binder scrap book(s). Get the ones with full pages not the ones with photo slots. I like the large ones that will hold even the 8" X 10" pictures.
  • Extra fine sharpie marker
  • clear page protectors (for anything two sided)

Step one. Go all over your house and find all your tucked away photos. Also gather any notes, letters, or drawings that have sentimental value. Now that you have them all in one place, think again, are you sure you have them all?

Don't forget to include newspaper clippings, notes, or drawings

Step two. Now we will get into it. You are going to sort all this stuff into some sort of logical order. I chose to sort mine chronologically. This will take some time, for one thing you are sure to find yourself stopping too much to look at all these memories, you may even need tissues handy.

I had so many photos that I first put them in 10 year increments with one pile of "before 1920". As I sorted there were many that I would put in one pile only to move them to another pile later. I put duplicates and photos I didn't want to keep aside in a box marked "give away". This box is for friends and family to look at to see if they want any of them and then to toss. Yes I said, toss. Why is it so hard to throw away pictures?

You may want to sort yours in one year stacks or you may want to make one pile for a special event like birth of a child or wedding.

Step three. Now take the oldest stack and put in some sort of order. Again, I chose chronologically starting with what I thought was the oldest and ending with the newest in that stack. I told you this was time consuming....

Step four. Begin putting photos from step three in your photo album. This is not the time to try and do fancy scrapbooking. Not that scrapbooking isn't a wonderful craft and you could always come back later and do that if you wish. But right now you just want to get these in some sort of order so you and others can enjoy them. Put two sided notes or letters in a clear page protector and place these in your photo album too.

This is an example of why I prefer the full sheets and not the pages with photo pockets.
Full sheets allow you to place almost any size photo in your album in whatever order that works for you.
Using 3 hole sheet protectors is a great way to add 2-sided letters, notes, or drawings to your photo album.

Step five. Using a fine sharpie you will want to add notes as you go. Either write on the page or on a small piece of paper placed next to the photo, but not on the photo. Names, dates, what the event was. This is very important, even if you have sloppy handwriting your family will appreciate the information next to the pictures.

Step six. Continue this process with each of your original stacks of photos.

Just one more thing. If your album contains pictures that cover a large span of time, you may want to include a timeline. I typed out a simple one one including dates and locations as they related to the pictures in the album.

Tip:  If you have some pictures that refuse to stick and keep moving around, you can purchase double sided tape or glue in the scrapbook section of a craft store. Be sure it is safe to use, look for wording similar to those in my photos.

Now you can neatly tuck your album away or put it out for others to enjoy when they visit. And, because you used a 3 ring binder type album, you can add more pages to your album and put them in the appropriate order if you do find more pictures.

Did you enjoy this? Check back to see how I tacked all those photos stored on my electronic devices!!

And, if you have any pictures that were in frames and are now stuck to the glass, see my post for ways to remove them here...

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