Yesterday, I decided that I would tackle all of the boxes of photos that I had accumulated (they never even made it into an album) as well as all the albums that I made and that I acquired from well-meaning relatives. I don’t want to take boxes of photos if I decide to move, yet I don’t want to lose the great ones that tell my family’s history.
This is not an easy task, so here are a few suggestions that worked for me.
Sort the photographs
- Sort the photos into two piles: scenery and people. I ended up throwing away most of the scenery photos because they weren’t that great to begin with, they were beginning to fade anyway, and National Geographic has better pictures of the beach in San Juan anyway, if I ever need it.
- Sort the people pictures into three piles: the professional photos, the super shots of family and friends, the ones that are too dark and of poor quality (if you can’t see facial features clearly put them in this pile). Keep just one copy of the professionally-taken photos and put the others in a bag for family members to look at and decide if they want any. Throw out the pile with the photos where you can’t recognize who is in the picture.
- Sort the super shots of family and friends into piles. Eliminate duplicates and keep a sample of events (do you really need every race your child ever ran or every game they ever played?). Make sure you have at least some pictures of everyone in the family.
Scan the photographs
Once you have whittled down the collection, decide how you are going to store and save the best of the photographs. The best way is to scan your pictures into digital format so they can be preserved with integrity. When I looked at the album I compiled of a trip to England in 1975, all the pictures were now sepia-toned because they weren’t stored well.
For some of the best of my family’s photos like my grandparents’ wedding picture, I scanned those myself on my scanner. I could then do some simple editing and they will now be safeguarded.
But for the mountains of candid shots, it will be easier and faster to send them out to a scanning service. For a fee, you can ship your photos in a box, they will scan and return a digital copy as well as the original photos. For a premium, you can also have them scanned, restored, and sharpened. Then you can share them easily with other members of your family.
Make a collage or two
Instead of having 8×10 or larger framed pictures all over your house, which you will have to pare down anyway, consider a few framed collages of key events. These will still let you look at cherished photos, yet they can be easily moved and displayed as you wish.
Share your photos
Once you have scanned your photos, you are free to toss out the real thing. You can easily share the scanned pictures with your family. If they want a paper copy, they can easily print out the few pictures. I offered the boxes of photos to my family before I threw them out, but of course no one took me up on my offer. They have lived most of their lives in the era of digital photography and have easy access to their memories. The few pictures they want from the pre-digital era will be scanned and ready for them.
Sorting though old pictures will eventually have to be done. Don’t put it off another day. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, and I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. It’s just one more step toward being able to pack up and move out, if I choose to do so.
Other posts in the Baby Boomer Series:
Peggy Chirico, REALTOR®
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