Most people have from 2 to 5 thousand printed photos in their collection. If you haven’t gotten rid of the duplicates, blurry, or just plain bad photos, you may have even more! After you gather your photos all together, you want to look through to see what you have! This is the time to purge and cull down to the important images that you want to be able to share in some way, keep for posterity, or use to tell your story. The rest can be tossed or re-purposed. See my earlier post “Getting your photos organized starts with deleting!” for help with the purging part.
When you are sorting your photos it’s really easy to get bogged down in the memories and emotions. You end up taking too much time with each image. Sorting is not looking at the photo to remember, but to categorize. What do you want to DO with the picture? Sometimes it helps to have someone else hold the photos and ask questions to keep you moving along. This is where a Certified Personal Photo Organizer can help.
I had a client that wanted to sort several bins of photos of her children. She had tried for 15 years to get the photos sorted and into albums for her kids, now all grown with children of their own. All she needed was for me to help her over the hurdle by telling her to sort by child first, tossing the bad photos as she went. Then we could resort the best pictures of each child and put them into an album. Breaking it down, and giving permission enabled her to sort several bins of photos. Her husband was very excited to see four finished albums and no more bins!
It’s good to remember that photos are not a handle-it-once kind of item! As you look at pictures in relation to each other and the stories they tell, you begin to see the possibilities for celebrating and telling the stories of your life and those of your loved ones. Sort the first time through to take out the duplicates, blurry, etc. Then you can go back and sort by the themes, events, or people that keep cropping up. You don’t have to sort chronologically! If you want some sense of time, you can re-sort all your birthday photos by year and see your child growing up birthday by birthday.
Digital images are similar in that you want to sort by what you want to DO with them, but the process is slightly different. With digital images you have to look at them on the screen, it’s harder to move them around to look at different groupings. This is where a good photo organizing software comes in handy. You need to tag the digital photos and then look at all the pictures with the Graduation tag or Birthday tag to see relationships. The nice thing about digital is that chronology is taken care of… unless your camera time and date stamp gets messed up. Take a look at my post on “6 Ways to Tag Your Photos” for more on tagging.
If you have trouble with finding the time to work on your photos, take 10 minutes and sort a handful of photos. If you want to keep going, great! If you need to stop, come back later and sort more. You will be surprised at how much you can get done in short sprints. Make an appointment with yourself if that’s what it takes. At this point you want to see what’s there in your photo collection. What pops out that you want to do something with?