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Sorting your family photos can seem like a really daunting task, especially when confronted with boxes upon boxes of photos. I mean, where do you start, right?
Before I start a big project like this I make sure I have all the tools I'm going to need. If you have to continuously stop, go find something and then restart the sorting session, you're less likely to get much of anything done. So what exactly are you going to need?
My sorting toolkit consists of the following:
1. garbage bags
2. rubbermaid totes / bankers boxes
4. photo safe pen
5. sticky notes
6. sorting criteria
7. clipboard, pen
8. ziploc bags
No one has time to complete a large project like this in one sitting, so I have broken it down into more manageable pieces. I would usually set myself a timer for this first sort to ensure that I don't go down the rabbit hole of reminiscing over each photo and get lost in time. For this first sort all you will need from the kit is the garbage bag, and tote. You will only be sorting the photos into keep and toss based on the criteria you have prepared. Your criteria may look something like this, but make yours to fit your needs.
Toss the following photos:
1. Blurry: Unless it has supreme sentimental value, there is no need to keep these
2. Doubles / triplicates
3. Poor quality with a finger in the photo or something similar
4. Landscapes: unless they evoke a specific and sentimental memory you're not likely to look at the photos ever again from the trip you took back in 1982. Images of people will likely have much more meaning to you.
5. If you don't have a clue who the people in the picture are nor does anyone else in the family.
Now get comfortable and complete the keep and toss sort. Don't get stuck in the notion that getting rid of a photo of someone is akin to getting rid of the person. The first time I sorted my own photo collection, I had difficulty tossing the hundreds of extra school pictures I had of my daughter. It seemed wrong to throw away anything related to her, like it was bad karma or something. I finally went and asked for her opinion on the matter. She laughed at me. That's just stupid mom was the answer I received. I realized it was a non rational fear and threw them all out except for one copy of each. Now, I take no issue with tossing images of any type.
The second sort is more involved and will take more time, with a greater risk of getting drawn into the memories. Try to keep on task as much as possible. Once your project is completed you will have more time to appreciate your photos and their memories.
This time you will be sorting your remaining photos into broad categories. You will want to decide before you start this sort, what types of categories you will use. People, years, events, some other theme.
You'll need to get your containers ready (or just make piles). You will use the sticky notes to write down the categories as you come across them. If you come across photos that you need to write something on the back of them, use the photo safe pen. Other pens and some pencils will push through to the other side of the photo causing damage.
As you work through this sort, you may come across categories that have dozens of photos of the same event. Challenge yourself with those large categories and save only the best 5 of each event. Your photos should hold meaning and 25 pictures from your friend's cousin's wedding probably isn't necessary for the memories.
If your time runs out before this sort is complete, use the ziplocs to keep the photos sorted until your next session.
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I was looking at my school day treasures book the other day and I was so thankful that my mother kept it for me until I was able to take it over. Its a little on the damaged side but it has become so valuable to me to look back and be reminded of the simpler times and how I have changed over the years. My next photo project is to scan all of the pages and mementos and turn it into a photo book so it can last me for several more years and my kid can get a kick out of laughing at pictures of my younger self and read about what I wanted to be when I grew up.
Its so important to collect, secure and organize kids memories for them to enjoy upon adulthood. Its such a thoughtful gift to give them one day to reminisce over. You'll want to get started at the beginning of a school year because its the easiest time to set it up while you are prepping for back to school.
It doesn't matter if they're a little older now as most people still have those lifetouch photo bags with left over school pictures from when they started school, so you can at least fill out most of the pertinent information and post a photo from previous years.
You can certainly purchase pre-made books like this for memory collecting at dozens of retailers, but they are often too small to keep much in the pockets and can get expensive. if you want to keep costs down, you can build your own for much less. All you need is a presentation binder of sheet protector pockets and some printables.
As far as what to keep in the pockets, report cards, class pictures without the cardboard frame, awards, samples of their work and photos of their art projects are the most popular but keep anything small that will make them go "awwwwe". Have fun creating your school treasures book!
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Although there may be fewer good memories to hold on to for the future during this pandemic, the ones there are should be protected. Maybe you are heading to your family cabin for the first time this year or its your first outdoor social visit since you started isolation. Whatever the case, these memories may tell an important story one day, so please don't forget to record it.
If you have the recording of these memories under control, the next step is to store them properly. With the plethera of digital storage options available, choose the one that works best for you and move this weekend's photos to a digital file labelled in a manner that will make it easy for you to locate later. That may be by date, event or something else that has meaning to you. My two favorite digital storage options are Dropbox and Smugmug and I use them for very different purposes. I use Dropbox as a storage spot only and I use Smugmug to collect and share photos as its permission levels and options are more comprehensive.
Now comes the fun part! My favorite methods of enjoying these photo memories include both physical and digital options. If you like to keep yourself surrounded by your favorite memories all the time, Nixplay has several great digital photo frames that you can regularly add to and change the images through an app, desktop or USB. Some of the more expensive wifi ones make it possible for you to program even from a distance, so you could send the photos to the frame before you even get home or send to the grandparent's frame for them to enjoy as well.
Photo books are still a favorite of mine as well. there is something great about holding the memories in your hans and pointing out images to your kids as you tell them the stories related to the photos. There are many drag and drop book builders on-line with a wide range of ease of use and price ranges. If you are looking for a long lasting book to stand the test of times, contact a local photo organizer to design and have a top quality book created through their professional printers.
My other favorite sharing option is a free family website that can be shared with family members but hidden from search engines. I think this one is crazy fun! I love this because you can have multiple family members contribute to the site and keep up with the goings on of long distance family members. I have people upload their photos through an easy upload link to my Smugmug gallery and then I create a different page for each family unit. What a marvelous way to keep up to date with family members. Contact me for further information if this sounds like something you might like.
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Covid 19 has put a damper on the the whole graduation ceremony for this year. But just because there isn't a ceremony, doesn't mean we shouldn't celebrate their success.
Photo books are one of my favorite personal gifts. Even a teenager can appreciate how cool it is to hold a book chronicling the past 12 years of their life and lets face it, how many teenagers don't love looking at pictures of themselves, right?
If this is something that you might like to try, now is the time to get started on it as there are a few steps to take to complete it.
Step 1: Digging out their pictures. I had taken over the memory book my parents started for me and love being able to go back and see pictures, memorabilia and assignments that I kept from each grade. Although my daughter is still a few years away from this, I started to prepare for this when she first started school. This may be the most time consuming step in creating the book, but it will be worth it.
Step 2: Digitizing the print photos, documents and memorabilia. If you have a scanner at home or work, scan the images at 600 dpi. You want to get good quality images or they may not show well in the book. If not, find a local place for scanning or contact a photo organizer for a more personalized experience. As for memorabilia, you can just take pictures of the items or use a quality overhead scanner for better quality imaging. I use the Fujitsu SV600 for my client's photo book memorabilia.
Step 3: This is usually the easy part for most people. There are plenty of drag and drop photo book creators on-line with a variety of options for covers, paper quality, lay flat, etc. However, if you want to have a customized book with documents, memorabilia, etc. or you just don't have the time or tech to do it, I suggest finding a local photo organizer to design it for you. We have the advanced software and skills to create a more customized and personalized product.
Have fun and get creative with a great gift that they will love and maybe even cherish for years to come.