Last May I held an Organisation Challenge each week for my readers (and myself) and I thought I’d bring it back once a month for 2015. Starting today! So, the first challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to sort your photos. This often feels like a job that’s just too big to even start, but it’s one that really needs to be done. Whether it be hard copies from 35mm film or digital files on your computer or external drive, they need to be protected for future generations (and possibly some need culling too). Here are my tips on how to get it done!
The trickiest part of doing this job has to be getting started. It can be overwhelming if it’s something that you’ve put off or just never tried to do before. Get yourself a space at a table where you can start sorting, pop on some great tunes and grab some photos and start sorting them. Maybe even set yourself a timer for 50 minutes so you can give yourself some breaks as you go.
You could start at the oldest photos you have or the newest, it doesn’t really matter, just begin and it will help it flow.
Decide on a system.
How are you going to sort them? By event or year or both? And where will you store them to keep them safe? Will they be in an album or one of those cool archive boxes that are the perfect size for photos? Which ones will you frame?
If you’re stuck, maybe start by sorting by year and also making a pile for framing or scanning. If there are any that are blurry or no longer wanted, you could make a pile for getting rid of. You could even make a pile for those you don’t want to keep for yourself but you know someone else would love.
Allow some time for memory lane.
The tricky bit of going through old photos is that you start to remember the times that were associated with those photos. It can feel tricky not to get caught up in remembering all of that. But maybe you don’t have to. This could be something that you do with your family and you can chat about old memories as you go. Story telling through photos was one of my favourite things to do with my Grandma when I was a little girl and it’s something that I still love to do to this day.
Allow some time for those memories but remember that you can move through them at a pace that works for you. If you want to get it done quickly, that’s cool too.
Give yourself a timeline.
If you have a lot of photos to sort through and you know you can’t do it in just one sitting, give yourself a timeline of when you want it done by. Spread it out so you do a couple of years at a time or maybe it’s even 45 mins a weekend or evening a week until you’re all caught up. Once you start and get into the swing of it, it will feel easier to continue, but the trick is not to give up before you reach that point.
Be kind to yourself.
If it feels hard to go through your photos, it’s even more important to be kind to yourself. Leave that pile until last, or ask someone who might be able to go through it with you (or for you). You could even leave them at the back untouched for now, if that’s what you need. There’s no right or wrong here. Just what works for you. That might seem counterproductive to skip some, but taking care of ourselves in the process is important too.
Find somewhere to keep them safe.
When you’re finished, the next important thing is to find somewhere to keep them safe from being damaged or destroyed (where possible). If they are already printed, somewhere that is dry and off the floor is a good place to keep them. If they are all stored on a computer or external drive, make sure that you have copies in multiple places so that should one of them fail you haven’t lost them all. Photobooks or albums kept on a shelf are a great way to keep your photos for the future too.
Is keeping your photos sorted your strong point? Or is this something you need to tackle too?