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If you’ve read and implemented our post on how to declutter photos, you may have been left feeling a little lackluster with the organizational tips at the end. Don’t worry – this entire post is dedicated to answering the question, “how to organize and store old photos.” We will evaluate options when it comes to sorting and organizing, as well as some storage options. Let’s get started!
In today’s modern age, you rarely see the excitement involved in picking up your photo prints at the store. Taking them out of the envelope, going through and remembering each moment, the feel of the newly printed photos. The addition of camera phones and social media has quickly overtaken the disposable cameras we used to use.
But what if you want to have the physical copy? What if you don’t want to let go of that collection? Or, if you’re like me, you get multiple prints done of new family photos and only end up framing one. How do we organize the printed photos we have?
How to Begin Organizing Photos
The very first thing to consider when you want to organize your old family photos is to decide what you want to do with them. For real. Do you want them to be organized and stored for safekeeping? Would you like to display more of them but don’t have the wall space? Or do you want to get them in order and start or update some photo albums?
If you are reading this post, you more than likely have something you don’t like about the photos you have. So – identify what you don’t like, and your goal is to fix that.
Out of Sight
If you want to keep your photos for future generations but don’t necessarily want them out in the house, I would look at storage box options. You will want to gather all of your printed photos. If you’ve recently decluttered your pictures, they should all be together and ready to be organized. If you haven’t, check out my How to Declutter Photos post. I recommend sorting your photos chronologically, and then you can go through and see exactly which ones you want to store.
Before storing, I recommend writing the person’s name and the year or age on the back. This will make it easier for your loved ones to know exactly what they are looking at when they explore the photos. If you have many photos and intend to keep them all, I would add other sub-categories to your organizing plan (by person, by maternal or paternal sides of the family, sports, etc.) Grab your storage solution, and get those photos stored.
If you want to display as many photos in your home as possible, you will want to sort your photos by size—a stack of 4×6, a stack of 5×7, and a stack of 8×10. Next, gather all of your picture frames. Don’t forget about any that might be in the garage or the attic, and you can grab the ones already hanging up. You might want to swap some of those photos out. Go ahead and sort the frames by size or color scheme.
If you want to change the layout of the photos in your home, you can use an app like Wallapp. This will allow you to upload pictures of your home and wall art to see how they will look. This step is fun – and can save your walls from excessive nail holes. Win-Win.
Once you’ve figured out how to display the photos in your home, you need to decide what to do with the unused photos. Do you plan to get a frame and display them if you did not use them? Will you store them away for safekeeping? Or will you put them in photo albums? If none of these ring true, you need to go ahead and throw the extra prints out. If you aren’t going to use them, then you don’t need them taking up space. You can look at getting your pictures digitized through companies like ScanMyPhotos.Com. This will minimize the clutter and allow you to keep the digital photos safe if you ever need to access or print them again.
Photo Albums and Scrapbooking
If you don’t want to box your pictures up, and you don’t want to display them throughout your home, but you want to keep them, then you may be a good candidate for photo albums or scrapbooking. If this is you, I would start by locating what photo album or type of scrapbook you want to use. Consider where you will store them. If you identify your storage location before buying the albums, you will know exactly how much space you have and how many pictures you can keep.
When organizing your photos, I would look at sorting chronologically or by the person. If you do it chronologically, you must decide which pile will coincide with which year range. Once sorted, you can add them to your albums or scrapbooks. In the next section, I’ll talk about the photo albums I recommend and how to repurpose the ones you already have!
Photo Storage Solutions
There are several storage options for your physical photo prints if you don’t want to use them in picture frames. I would look at storage boxes by size, like this 5×7 option and this 4×6 option. These will help keep your photos in order, by size, and safe.
If you don’t want to sort by size, you can look at an archival storage box or a standard photo storage option. I don’t recommend just using a plastic tub for storage since it can trap moisture and ruin the photo prints. I recommend using old shoe boxes if you don’t want to purchase a new storage option. The cardboard will help keep the pictures safe and put those excess shoe boxes to good use!
Lastly, when it comes to photo albums, there are so many options! Check out this search page to see what I mean. You’ll need to decide if you want a giant photo album for all of your pictures or smaller ones that match your home decor. Keep in mind where you are going to put the photo albums too.
Repurposing Photo Albums
If you have old photo albums that still work but aren’t so easy on the eyes in your home, you can recover them to match your decor. One way is to purchase some cloth to cover them and affix the cloth over the cover of the album. Another option is to look at contact paper. You can cut the size you want and affix it to the entire album or just the spine. Here are some options for the contact paper.
After you have decluttered your photos, the next step is organization. By determining how to store old photos, whether that’s out of sight, on display, or in photo albums, you will know what path to take when sorting your photos. Whether chronologically or by the person is up to you; make sure you plan what you will do with the pictures.
I hope this post works as a guide for how to organize and store old photos. If you want to start decluttering the rest of your home today, check out the Declutter Boot Camp course! Or, if you need help to do it at your own pace, I have a checklist for decluttering your home you should check out!