One of the most common questions that I receive each week is: “What’s the best way to organize printed photos?”. Not only do clients seek out my help to organize their digital photo collection, many also inquire about how to organize and store years of printed photos. Although my expertise lies in digital photo organization, I’d love to share some practical tips for organizing your printed photo collection to ensure they’re safe, easily accessible and cherished for years to come.
1. Utilize Photo Boxes and Organizers
Photo boxes and organizers are ideal for storing loose pictures or those awaiting categorization. Look for acid-free, archival-safe boxes to protect the prints from damage. Here is my favorite storage box.
2. Sort by Date or Event
Start by sorting your photos chronologically or by specific events. This will make it easier to locate particular photos and reminisce about memories while flipping through your collection.
3. Invest in High-Quality Photo Albums
High-quality photo albums are the perfect medium for both displaying and preserving your favorite photos. Look for albums with acid-free pages to prevent yellowing and deterioration over time.
4. Label and Catalog
Go one step further and add labels indicating the date, location, and people in each photo. Though this may feel like a tedious process, this is a brilliant way to keep the stories behind the pictures alive. Here is my favorite label maker.
5. Scan your Photos to Create Digital Backups
Consider scanning your printed photos to create digital backups. Cloud storage and external hard drives are excellent options to ensure your memories live on, even if something happens to the physical copies. Here is my favorite scanner – it scans 1 photo a second!
6. Implement the 3-2-1 Storage Method
You can apply the 3-2-1 storage method to your printed photos – that is, 3 copies of your photos on at least 2 different types of media, one of which is off-site (like in the cloud). This is the method that I teach in The Photo Project.
7. Take Your Time and Embrace the Process
If the prospect of organizing your entire photo collection feels daunting, remember that you don’t have to tackle it all at once. Begin by sorting, dating, labeling, and scanning your most cherished memories, and enjoy the process; this is part of your legacy!
Whatever you choose to do, ensure your photos are properly stored to preserve their life; that means using acid-free archival storage boxes and high-quality photo albums. Always handle old photographs with care and seek out professional help if you are dealing with particularly old or fragile photographs to ensure you don’t damage them. Having your printed photos well-organized not only ensures their longevity but also allows you to cherish and share those special moments with friends and family for a lifetime.
Don’t have time to organize your digital photo collection? I offer a 1:1 service where I centralize your photos, remove duplicates, organize, and back them up. By the end of your session, you will have a beautiful and secure photo library along with a system in place to keep your memories safe!