Organize your photos now and you'll
have more time for making photo-worthy memories.
You've conquered desk disarray, shoe-closet
stampedes, and kids' clutter. You're well on the way to a full year
of succeeding in that New Year's resolution to get
Next stop: those drawers stuffed with photo-center
envelopes, loose negatives, and stuck-together prints of people you
It never fails: You develop a roll of film,
flip through the photos a couple of times, and toss them aside,
intending to sort them in the future.
Later, when you're on
the hunt for a particular snapshot, you paw through overwhelming
stacks of photos littered throughout the house or shoved into desk
drawers, but the image you're searching for seems to have
The next time you pick up your developed film,
spend an evening sorting the photos right away. Make it a family
event -- share laughs and reminisce about that shot of the dog
eating your son's birthday cake -- and you'll be on the right track
for keeping those precious memories safe, organized, and easily
Invest in a large set of
matching photo albums and photo boxes. This will make it easy to
organize your photos over the years.
Go over photos when you
first receive them.
While you sort, record an identifying
description, such as the date or who's in the photo, on the back of
Write on photo paper with a light touch, and make
certain you use an acid-free, photo-safe pencil or pen (available at
art-supply and crafts stores).
Don't keep bad exposures,
blurry shots, or bloopers you won't look at again. Throw away any
photos you'd rather not remember.
Nab your favorites to put
in an album or frame right away; pick out images to give to
Make a list of any reprints or enlargements you need
and take it to the photo store next time you're out and
Box It Up
use specially made photo boxes to create a filing system. Transfer
prints from the photo-center packets to less bulky acid-free
Clearly label each envelope with dates and any
other identifying description -- Road trip to Yellowstone or
Christmas 2004, for instance. Then separate the envelopes into
specific categories for storage.
Label tabbed dividers to
further organize into subcategories, perhaps by year or family
The key is to create categories that will fit all of
your photos and that you'll remember when the time comes to search
out that certain shot.
Tips to Protect
Handle with Care
To protect your precious
photos, keep these points in mind:
Temperature, humidity, and
light affect photos. Stash stored photos and photo albums away from
sunlight in a cool, dry area.
Hang framed photos on a wall that
won't get the direct sunlight that fades photos quickly. Or use
blinds and draperies to control the light.
Avoid storing photos
in basements or attics, where temperatures and humidity
Oils on your fingers degrade photos and negatives, so handle them
by the edges only. For additional protection, wear clean white
Paper clips, rubber bands, glue, and tape
shouldn't come in contact with photos, unless specifically designed
as safe for photos.
Plastic pages, bags, and boxes that aren't acid-free may release
harmful vapors that permanently damage photos. These plastic
products are considered safe: Polypropylene, Polyethylene, Mylar,
Tyvek, and Cellulose Triacetate. Before you buy, check labels on
photo boxes, mats, and albums to make sure they're acid-free and
Always frame photos using acid-free matting materials.
photos away from wood, plywood, chipboard, rubber cement, animal
glue, shellac, contact cement, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), pressure
sensitive tape, and porous marking pens.
Adhesives may chemically interact with images and ruin the photos
if you try to remove them from an album at a later date. Use only
specially made acid-free glue sticks, markers, and corners on your
Label and Backup
Even if you're not
handling negatives or reprints, you still need to organize and
protect your digital photos. Develop a system for storing digital
images and stick with it.
Label digital photos the moment you
upload them onto your computer. Assign each image a specific name
and date you'll recognize. It may help to begin each file name
consistently (OurWeddingOct04-cake003.jpg), following with a more
descriptive title and a photo number.
photos into folders and subfolders on your hard drive. Or use
software designed to archive images into computerized photo
Protect digital files from menacing computer viruses
and unreliable technology by backing up your image files or burning
them to CDs.