Spring Cleaning To-Do List: Add Organizing Your Photos
Spring has sprung, so you know what that means: spring cleaning. It’s a beautiful time of year (when you aren’t dealing with seasonal allergies), and everyone wants their home to be clean and fresh. Closets are emptied. Pantries are organized. Those of us that are truly brave tackle a basement project or empty the attic. This year, we recommend adding “organizing your photos” to your spring cleaning to-do list.
There are many items in your home that you can throw out, recycle, or give away easily to make room in your home, but photos are not one of them. Organizing your photos is not an easy or maybe the most important project for someone to tackle, but it will pay off in the long run. We have many clients that remember seeing a photo that they want to share with a loved one, but they can’t find it because it is in one of many bins of photos.
Save yourself some trouble, and get organized with these tips:
- Have a Plan. This seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many people head into a project like this without a strategy. We’re not dealing with pants that can be thrown into the “donate corner” of the room; we’re dealing with items that move easily (often without notice) and are potentially fragile. You may be excited to dive right in, but have a plan on where to place the items you want to keep, store, frame, and share before beginning.
- Know Your Storage. Understanding how photos need to be stored will help you as you organize. You can pre-sort images that need to be grouped by image type, size, etc. and take notes as you go in order to get an accurate count of everything. Making a list as you go will help you purchase the correct amount of storage needed to protect your photos. Learn more about photo storage in this article.
- Look for “Things.” Items like love letters, fishing licenses, recipe cards, sports letters, fans, silver, and more can be used to add personality and color to your family story. It’s one thing to see a person in a photo, but it’s a privilege to learn more about a relative through these personal items.
- Label Your Storage. If you were taking notes while you were sorting, you can include a copy of those lists in your new storage boxes. Detail the people in the photos and estimated dates they were taken. You can type or digitize your list to create an electronic copy that will make it even easier to find your photos in the future.
What do you do with the items that you do not want to put in storage? If you have pieces that you love, show them off by:
- Making a photo album. Yes, people still make photo albums. Look for acid-free, archival products to protect your photos. We love albums because they are useful in helping people talk about their family. If you have an album and show it to your parents or grandparents, they will tell you stories about your relatives that you would never know otherwise—invaluable to anyone that loves genealogy.
- Creating a family wall. Pull your favorite photos of your loved ones to put on display in your home. Get inspired with this article.
- Digitizing your photos to share with others. One person usually inherits all of the photos, but many people want to enjoy them. Instead of breaking up a collection and dividing it amongst relatives, digitize the photos to share. From there, you can create photo books, print copies, and more. It’s time consuming, but it is a thoughtful and an extremely generous gift.
- Gifting photos to a loved one. Not interested in an image? Give it to someone that will enjoy it. We have had a number of clients that are able to connect with unknown relatives through research and share photos with them. One client gave a photo of their great-uncle to a distant cousin because that great-uncle was actually her grandfather. A photo may not be important to you, but it will mean everything to someone else.
One note on organizing photos: We do not advocate for throwing away any image, negative, slide, film reel, etc. We know people that have done this, and they always come to regret it. Bad things can happen to good photos, and you never know what you’ll need in the future. If you feel the need to throw something away, back away from your images and open your mystery junk drawer (don’t try to hide it…everyone has one).
Organizing your photos can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation and planning, you can achieve something remarkable. Check out our photo restoration page for more ideas or contact us for a free consultation.