Thursday, October 15, 2009

What to do with the Photos?

I have a process now for what to do with the mountains of photos I seem to generate. For the longest time, I wasn't printing out photos, was wanting to scrapbook, but not actually doing it, and having that nagging feeling that it was just a matter of time before technology changed and my digital images would become increasingly less accessible.

And then I came across Stacy Julian's, of BigPictureScrapbooking.com, Photo Freedom. And this is how I'm putting it into practice:

First, I pulled out mountains of past photos, scattered in drawers, in incomplete photo albums, in boxes, and separated them from their envelopes. This was nerve-wracking! But I kept going, reminding myself that a.) the envelopes themselves are not archival safe, and b.) when, really, is the last time I've ever gotten copies of old film negatives made? In the last 30 years?

The negatives have all gone into an archival, plain, small, storage box, to be kept at my office, so the next time my house floods (hopefully never), or if Excel NEVER gets around to replacing the potentially-exploding gaslines, or the Cedar Waxwings attack my house, (get through the windows) and make a mad dash for my photo negatives (also hopefully never), they'll all be safe in my office, out of my house.

Next, I organized the photos in chronological order, roughly, first by decade, then year. And I threw photos out! Lots of photos, repeating the mantra to myself "Not all photos are created equal." The bizarro elbow shots, or apparently out-of-focus lunar landscape photos all bit the dust. The 15 shots of the same pose, most of which were terrible, got pared down to 3 or 4. And I threw the rest out. If they truly didn't make me happy, or bring back memories, or if I wouldn't have want to inherit (the task of tossing) this photo from someone, I tossed it. And it felt good!

Then, one chunk at a time, I took the chronological photos, pulled out many that were just "bleh" but I couldn't part with, and put them in archival boxes I labelled "cold storage." If I ever really want the photo, I'm welcome to go on a search through these boxes to find the "gem" that probably will never really be needed or wanted again. These cold storage photos are in very roughly chronological order. The photos that survive this cut are put in "storage binders", photo albums sometimes referred to as "3-up". The binders are, wonderfully, 3 ring binders that allow for re-arranging the order I have them in for when I realize that my 2nd son was actually born after my first, and so therefore should have been stored later.

The binders have 3 pockets per page, are archival-safe, and can store at least 4 or 5 photos in one pocket--so the duplicates that really don't need to each be looked at, but are beautiful alternate scowls of my lovely first-born, can still be saved. The albums you see on these two shelves are two different styles of the storage binders that I'm using:


As I put the photos into the storage binders, I come across photos that I really, really love--photos that I just know I'm going to want to use someday in a nice layout, or somehow feature in a special way. These photos I pull out, and put into one of 4 broad categories: People I love; All about Us (immediate family); Places we go (mostly trips); and Things We Do (things we do like work, parties, birthdays, graduations, but also stuff in our lives, like attacking birds, Sham Wow! adventures, gardening, recipes & food, Christmas trees, macro shots, etc.)

And these photos go into one of 4 category drawers, with tab dividers:



What I really like about the category drawers is that it frees me up from HAVING to conceptualize the photos in chronological order! These drawers are like staging grounds for eventual scrapbook pages, and I might do a page that features one of my children and their traveling adventures. . . and I can pull photos from the section that has photos of them (in the All About Us drawer, behind their name), across time periods, and perhaps from the Places we Go drawer as well.




Next, I create scrapbook pages . . . (and now I feel like I can create one from any time period I want, or around any theme I feel inspired to play with). . . without feeling compelled to continue some chronological "must scrap the next holiday" obligation. And I'm only using photos that really appealed strongly to me. . . . that call my name and make me think about them and the time when Scott. . . . . . . . . .

The photos go into scrapbook binders like you now see on this bottom shelf. There's a binder for each category: Places We Go, People We Love, All About Us, and Things (so there's actually a place for those very important, but random events, like Doug Cavorting and Gamboling--although they could find it's way into the "All About Us" album as well). The scrapbook binders are also 3 ring binders, so I can easily re--arrange pages as they unpredictably fill in (unlike the post binders). As one fills up, I'll start another binder for that category. If a section grows greatly, I can create a binder of it's own for that theme (Bonnie may end up with a binder featuring her, in all her cuteness, including some of her book reviews.)
OK, I know I've rambled on and on, but this has been so very helpful to me, using this system, that I thought I'd share it with anyone who's interested!




15 comments:

Nicki, said...

I love, strive, and aspire to better organization. I fully appreciate it when I see it - and you certainly have it. Fortunately for me, my father took all the old family pictures, sorted them and put them into photo albums after he had retired - so I inherited organized memories. JOY!

Esther said...

Cool! Now, that's ORGANAIZATION! I don't know if I will ever be that organized, but wow, good for you. And thanks for sharing! :)

pat said...

I.am.impressed!!! I admire someone who can ruthlessly sort through old photos and actually throw them out. I've done it. It's hard. They call to you. They hold on. They cry and beg to be saved. They are not missed. Your process and method looks like it works well. I like the category vs. date idea.

The Au Family said...

Wow. You are very organized. My pictures need organization desperately!

Yolanda said...

I love it when I get something organized. It's a great feeling. Plus, you then get the joy of looking at them when you want to.

P.S. WV is the land of what we call Comakazie (sp?) birds. They run into our back windows all the time. They see the reflection of the trees or so I've been told. One of the weirdest things to get used to here.

Maria said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria said...

O. M. G. Wow! Good for you on finding a system that works for you. This post made me laugh and left me amazed. I'd love to see a follow-up post in a few months to find out how the system is working out. And I noticed the Janet Evanovich books! Fun.

Diana said...

Great job on the organizing of photos, i only have photos in my scrapbooks,and in one photobox. the rest are on CD's and my hard drive. but now you have made me think about organizing them all thank you

Reds said...

TFS - Should try that as I am really bad with organizing my photos... :)

Bobbi said...

Holy moly you have mad organization skills! I would think about possibly doing this and that's as far as it would go. Go you!

twinsmom said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing. I wish I was as far along as you. I've started throwing out some old ones but it's such a job. LOL Love how organized you are!

Mandy said...

I would just LOVE to get organized. Right now I am literally gritting my teeth at the dire state of disorganization my photos are in. Customers would simply faint at this admission, yet I just really get so excited to look at photos that I rarely think about what to do with them after. You have inspired me though...oh yes...I will GET organized this winter...I WILL!

Beth said...

Wow, that is organized! Good to know you can pull out a cavorting photo any time you need one!

Bob Cheney said...

I saw that Robert and Barb TX family file. I'm glad we are in with the people you love. :)
Would you just come and do it for me? It all seems so overwhelming even with a system.

Barb said...

That last comment was from me. Somehow I was logged in as Bob