Editor’s Note: In almost every home we organize. we come across literally hundreds of printed photographs, both old and new, and our clients always tell us how important they are and that “some day” they will get them organized. We are delighted to feature a guest blog from Nikki McKenna, the founder of Storytag who offers some fabulous tips on how to finally get your photos organized once and for all. Read on…
If you are like millions of Americans, you have boxes and boxes and boxes of pictures in a closet somewhere. You know they contain thousands of precious memories of your family through the years but you may also know that as time goes on so does the risk that pictures are lost, memories fade or disaster strikes to damage them. Digitizing these images is a must if you want to pass these memories on to generations, but where to begin? The cost of digitizing 1,000 images is around $500 and many families have more like 10,000 or even 20k. That can be a bit prohibitive. So, then, let’s start by recognizing that you will get just about ALL of the value of your pictures if you pare it down by a factor of 10. If you need some helping being convinced of that, please reach out! But then, how do you decide to pass on 90% of those precious pictures? Here are a few tried and true tips:
- Start with some focus on what you really want from that “pile” before jumping in. It makes a difference in how you organize! Do you see these images as a way for your story to live on? Are they precious memories for your family to share? Are they pictures that you know you will want for future projects (e.g. scrapbooks, slideshows or wall space)?
- It will help to think about three (3) categories: Album, Box and Can (e.g. trash can). We call these the ABC’s of photo organizing. I borrow from a William Morris statement often used by many traditional organizers that encourages us to keep only that which is beautiful or useful. Beauty, as it pertains to our images, refers to those that strongly evoke the feelings of a memory we want to remember. Useful, as it pertains to our images generally means they document facts of our past we want to remember. Roughly speaking, the beautiful falls into A and the useful usually falls into B. Otherwise, it’s the trash can.
- We take pictures to remember, so as you cull them down, think about what the image actually helps you to remember that other pictures don’t. Is it the one picture that has all of the people at your wedding? Keep it. It’s useful. Is it your favorite picture of your grandpa and you when you were on the boat together on that camping trip? Keep it. It’s beautiful. Are there 20 other pictures of your grandpa and you on that same boat on that same camping trip? Consider tossing those.
- When deciding to keep an image or not, think about whether you could have remembered the image before you saw it. Pictures that stood out in your mind even while being in a box very likely captured something important in your life. They very likely have beauty for you. If you didn’t remember it, and it doesn’t document something specific, consider tossing it.
- Notice that you can’t capture everything with any number of pictures and decide to write your memories down! Just ten pictures that have the story are worth more than 10,000 with no description or names. As you are sorting, quickly write down those stories. Then, keep the momentum by keeping a journal for your present.
- Take your time. You can only eat an elephant a bite at a time; so set aside a manageable chunk of time every week to do a bit. I assure you, you will get there.
- Have fun! You are reliving old times. And, rest assured that it’s a project your whole family will love you for.
Storytag is a full service solution to help our clients get their stories booked. We employ a unique interview process, image selection, custom design and book printing using only the most qualified suppliers to combine story with images into a memoir that will be enjoyed for generations. Our mission is to help families all across the country preserve their stories with respect and artful aesthetics so that they can all experience more often their own legacies of joy and love and loss and each and every one’s unique meaning of life.