Organizing your family photographs may seem like an overwhelming task but it is one that will lead you down memory lane in the best way. We all have dozens stored on hard drives, and boxes or bags of even older ones that would do best in albums.
Now, when the family is gathered or about to come together, may be the perfect time to recall old memories. Set aside a few evenings or some other blocks of time over vacation (or plan to do so in January or February) and indulge yourself and your kids with happy times.
Out with the Bad
Once you come to terms with the idea that not every photograph is sacred, the job of getting them in order will be far easier.
Discard or toss pictures of people you don't know, as well as any duplicates and blurry ones. Get rid of pictures that make your loved ones look awkward or (dare we suggest?) homely!
Keep the photos that are clear and in good condition. Keep those that are commemorate events, vacations, and holidays you want to remember.
As you come across them, email or give away photos to friends and family members.
Avoid sentimentality. Quality is far more important than quantity in most instances.
Storage and Display
Depending on how serious you are about preserving your photos, there are any number of materials and supplies you can buy. It is usually worth it to talk to a reputable dealer who specializes in photo supplies.
Digital photos can be organized chronologically or according to a topic (family birthday parties; babies; ski trips)and then shared via the cloud or on flash drives. You can also make small albums through online companies such as Snapfish and give them to loved ones.
Old school photos can be slipped into albums, stored in archival boxes, or put into frames. The frames might have multiple windows, allowing you to create a photo collage.
For fine photographs or any that are especially dear or old, ask about acid-free, archival quality storage sleeves or boxes.
For those you don't print, create easily identified online albums, ready to be shared with family and friends.
If you decide to save negatives, leave them in their sleeves and store them flat, away from heat and light. It's useful to keep them in plastic sleeves in three-ring binders, safe from dust, dirt, and insects. Don't forget to mark the negative sleeves so you can identify them easily.
While you can simply drop photos into digital files or slip them into the plastic sleeves in album after album, if you develop a system, they will be more fun to view.
You might want to put together an album for each baby, to keep as a special keepsake for that child. Or send old snapshots to adult siblings who share the same memories.
If you have relevant mementos, slip them into the albums, too. These might be airline ticket stubs to a faraway destination, a birth announcement, or a program from a school play.
Take Control from Here
Buy several empty albums and slip new photos into them as you get them printed. This way, you will avoid a future day when digital files and overflowing shoe boxes and torn shopping bags take over.