Being the first day of winter, we think about going into hibernation so our great decluttering challenge over the next couple of months will focus on things inside the home including some of the “hard” stuff like paperwork and photographs plus also other categories of items that are less utilised at this time of the year such as gardening tools and picnic/BBQ items.
This week in Part 1 of 2 weeks on curating memories, we are tackling one of those challenging categories – photographs, slides, negatives and photo albums. Part 2 will focus on memorabilia but we are leaving that until Week 50 you will be pleased to know.
This week’s challenge may be a time consuming one for some of us so it may potentially take more than the one week. However, it is a category that is best served by doing some good preparation to make the task of sorting, culling and organising efficient for you.
I will also share some tips from other Professional Organisers who specialise in photo organising (yes, it is a specialty!).
So where do we start?
I am going to defer to one of my organising colleagues here who specialises in photo organising – the lovely Chantal Imbach from Simply in Order based in Victoria. Chantal offers a specialised photo organising service and can provide you with further assistance, even if you are not based in Victoria.
Chantal has written a fantastic blog about decluttering photos.
To summarise, she suggests taking the following steps:
- Create a vision – what are you going to do with those you choose to keep?
- Gather all of your photos – dealing with your collection as a whole will make the decision making process easier.
- Sort like with like – I know you are great at that now! You can do it by year, by event, or whatever makes sense to you.
- Declutter – Chantal has outlined some very useful criteria and shares the ABCs of photo organising which was developed by Cathi Nelson, the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organisers.
- Back up the keepers.
Chantal’s full blog post can be found here.
What do I do with the keepers?
There are only two options for the keepers – display them or store them!
- Display them:
o I love Ikea’s picture ledges for a flexible photo gallery. You don’t need 200 picture hooks up on the wall and you can change the photos and frames around as you wish.
o Digital photo frames are not quite as popular as they were, but they are still a great tool for displaying multiple photographs.
o Dedicate a wall in your lounge or hallway to a photo gallery. There are so many pages with inspiration for creative display options online to get you started. I suggest you lay your frames out on the floor and play with them before you start to put hooks in the wall. Why not do it using some butchers paper too – mark around your frames when you get them how you would like them and mark the point for the hanger, then pop the butchers paper up on the wall with some blue-tack and you have your template for your nails or hooks.
o If you still prefer to flick through an album, don’t hide it on the bookshelf, leave it out on a side table or coffee table or somewhere that you (or your guests) can pick it up and enjoy it.
- Store them properly, either in hard copy or digitally:
o Hard Copies:
– It is worth investing in an acid-free storage or archival box such as these from Albox.
– Plastic ones with no holes are also great as they are waterproof and limit the chance of unwanted dust or creatures getting into the box.
– Group photos into years and/or events and use dividers between each group.
– Store the boxes where there is little chance of damage.
– Consider using a tool like iPhoto (for Apple/Mac users) or similar. These programs often include a facial recognition tool and various ways of creating albums (by date, event or your own curation). Makes searching for your photos very easy.
– Consider using Cloud storage options such as iCloud, Dropbox, pCloud or Google Photos so you have a backup of your photos elsewhere just in case your computer decides to die. Note that many of these are paid subscription models. Some offer free options but space is restricted.
– Invest in an external hard drive that you can back up your photos on. This is also a great grab-&-go option should disaster strike and you need to leave your home in a hurry with only a handful of items.
– Be sure to create folders for years and/or specific events so you can easily find what you are looking for and be consistent in naming your photos as you save them.
– Develop a standard naming convention system for yourself. I suggest starting with the year and month, again to make finding things quicker. This does take time but it really is worth it.
What do I do with the ones that no longer have a purpose for me?
- Printed Photographs, Negatives and Slides:
o Older photographs and negatives can’t be recycled due to the chemical coatings used in the developing process. Unfortunately they need to be placed in a garbage bin or disposed of at landfill. If you are concerned about privacy, you can shred them first.
o Photos that you have printed at home on paper can be added to your recycling bin.
- Photo Albums (photos removed):
o If in good condition:
– Gift to family or friends
– Post on your local/regional “Buy Nothing” or sales groups on Facebook
– Garage Sale
o If in poor condition recycle or dispose of in your garbage bin as appropriate.
How did you go? Feel free to share your successes, challenges and tips on our Facebook page.