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Get busy and organize those photos!

January 8, 2010

Grandma at cousin Max's wedding.

John on his first birthday!

Vickie when she graduated from high school.

Todd when he won the spelling bee.

These are all cherished moments captured on film and like most people in the world, these treasured photographs sometimes end up stacked around the house, stuffed into boxes and drawers as we tell ourselves we will put them into albums in some sort of order someday.

That "someday" can be today as winter days are the perfect time to get photos organized so they can be enjoyed for years to come. And, those at wiki.HOW and share some great pointers.

Organizing prints:

Before starting the project, keep in mind it may take some time before all your photos will be in albums as gathering, sorting and labeling take time.

The first step is to gather all the photos together. Scour drawers, desks and catch-all baskets. One never knows where a print will turn up. More than likely, the search will turn up a stack of stray photos as well as packets of pictures developed at the local drug store.

Once you have gathered the photos, your first priority is to protect them while identifying them and setting them up in some sort of order.

Flip through the envelops of photos, note the event and date on the outside top edge and store in a shoe box. If it will be awhile before you are able to actually work with the photos (either by putting them in albums or making a scrapbook), remove them from their paper envelops and put them into labeled acid-free and PVC-free envelopes.

For another approach, you may want to sort the loose photos as well as those in envelopes according to events (France trip, family reunion or Abby's graduation) or by dates and store them with labeled dividers between them.

Now that the photos are sorted, choose a way to store and display them such as acid-free albums and archival systems.

Now is the time to cut yourself a break when it come to photos if you think should be turning out scrapbooks at the speed of light but just don't have the time. Once you have protected the photos, you afford yourself the time to be creative at a later date.

To avoid photo meltdowns in the future, develop the habit of labeling and storing photos in albums as they are developed.

Organizing digital photos:

First decide what you want to do with your photos.

If you want to print them, do so and follow the tips above. If you never print any, save images to the 72-dpi size and free up massive amounts of room on your hard drive. If there's even a chance you'll want to print them, burn larger resolution images to a CD and keep thumbnails (tiny screen representations that you can easily scroll through) on your computer.

Back up your files frequently. After you download the photos and trash the duds, burn the files onto a CD or DVD. Label the discs and store them on a spindle , in cases or a CD book.

Store photos in a folder on your computer, or plug in an external hard drive and store them there to free up space on your system.

Transfer the digital photos from your camera to your computer and devise a consistent naming system. Create a folder structure, organizing the pictures first by year, then by event. For large events, such as weddings, you may need subfolders.

It should be noted there are many software packages available to make digital photo storage and printing fun and easy. There are also a number of free services while allow users to create and upload photos as well as make albums to share with unlimited online storage.

Display bound:

Once all your photos have been sorted and stored and you finally get around to putting them into albums, remember to take your time. You didn't accumulate four million photos overnight and it will take time to get them where you want them.

Tackling one file at a time, spread them over a table so you can see them and get an idea of how you want them to look in the album, scrapbook or frame.

Cull any hopelessly blurry shots, along with anything that's much too bright or dark. Also throw out anything featuring the photographer's thumb or camera strap if it cannot be salvaged by cropping. Consider discarding duplicates. Pass them along to Grandma, or anybody else who would appreciate them.

Don't feel guilty about having unsorted photos. Lots of people do. Do get going and sort them. As you get your photos sorted, put them out where everybody can look through them. Seeing everybody enjoy those memories is the reward for all that work, and it will help inspire you to continue with the rest.

Graham can be reached at



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