Many people have photos everywhere: they could be dumped into boxes, mounted in stacks of albums, still in unopened envelopes from the developer, strewn about in drawers or displayed in an ever-increasing array of picture frames.
You would think that digital photos would be easy to manage, but often they are not. Some people print out all their digital photos, adding them to the stack of traditional photographs they have to deal with. Probably even more people have so many photos piling up on their computer that they can fill up their hard drive if they’re not careful.
Here you will find 10 tips for keeping family photos organized that will help you preserve your heritage without all the clutter in digital and in paper form.
- Choose your organization method: Grouping your photographs by size makes them more manageable when stored in a box or on a shelf. You can get special sleeves used for archiving photographs that match the size of your photographs. Although this method makes them look neat, they often don’t fit well chronologically, meaning that you may have to sort your photos by date or event and then by size.
- Develop your old exposed film: It’s amazing how many rolls of film are sitting around in drawers never having been developed. It’s time to find out what’s on those images. Use a special developer that specializes in processing old film to get the best results.
- Protect your color photographs: Many people don’t realize that color prints don’t last forever. In fact, the life of a color photo is estimated to be about fifty years. The way to extend the life of your photographs so future generations can enjoy them is to store them in archival quality acid-free sleeves.
- Drop the bad shots: You probably don’t need those thumb shots, accidental photographs of the ground or sky, and photos that are so blurred you can’t even tell who’s in them. Throw them away: they are useless. By getting rid of the bad photos you will save space, while tidying up your collection.
- Get a scanner: You can get one a special photo scanner or a general purpose high resolution scanner and convert your old photographs into a digital format. You will probably want to keep the originals, but you will be able to preserve them forever in digital format whereas time takes its toll on physical prints.
- Control the bloat: By eliminating the cost and hassle of photo processing, digital photography has enabled camera owners to take as many photos as they like, resulting in mountains of gigabytes inside computers rather than the cluttered drawers, shelves, and boxes formerly associated with photographs. Choose the images you want to keep and delete the rest.
- Name your files right away: You don’t need those generic names that start with “untitled” or “img.” Name your files right away before you forget what they are about. Also, adopt a naming system that makes sense so your images are easy to sort and search.
- Tag your images: Photo managers such as Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, and others allow you to identify the people in each photograph, making your collection easy to search and sort. You can also add keywords that help you quickly locate images of certain types and events.
- Use folders: Create folders to conveniently sort your photos. If something goes wrong you’re your photo manager, you need a system that makes photos easy to find using nothing but your operating system.
- Backup regularly: Many people spend a lot of time organizing their digital photos only to lose them all in a hard drive crash. Use an online backup service, an external hard drive, or optical Blu-ray or DVD disks to make sure you always have a copy even if bad things happen to your computer.
Use these 10 tips for keeping family photographs organized and you will see how a small investment in time and effort can make your photos more enjoyable for you, your family, and your friends.