Last week we talked about digital photos, and today we’ll focus on the printed photos that never made it into albums. Some people have asked me what I do with mine. I just keep them in the box.
It seems temporary, like these are the photos I plan to put in albums “someday,” but I don’t think I will. I think organizing should solve a problem, and these loose photos don’t bother me. They sit nicely on a shelf in my closet. I’ve already thrown away the ones that don’t matter to me.
Shoe-box size archival boxes are a useful, inexpensive, space-efficient way to save photos that aren’t important enough to put in an album, but are good enough to keep. Photo albums are heavy and they take up lots of space! Use albums for your favorite photos. (Not every photo needs to be preserved for a hundred years in an archival-quality album.)
How to Create Albums that Tell a Story
Sarah gave really good instructions in the comments last week about putting your best photos into albums, and I thought I would share them with you here too:
“I used to be a Creative Memories consultant years ago, and people would come in with BALES of photos–blurry, all-black, in duplicate and triplicate–and they’d take one look at the price of CM’s products and just about fall over. “I can’t afford albums for all of these pictures!!” Well, no, and you shouldn’t! First you need to pare down to the really good photos, then those are the ones that deserve to be preserved in a really good album. Even working on commission, I didn’t want to see anyone spend their money buying high-quality scrapbooks for 35 nearly-identical pictures of a sunset.
One woman was trying to scrapbook the candids from her wedding–you know, from the disposable cameras on every table? Oh my goodness. She started with a stack of prints at least six inches tall and didn’t even know where to start.
- First we agreed on some qualities she wanted from the photos. What was the point of having the cameras on the table? To see people the photographer might have missed. Okay, so if a photo doesn’t have a clear view of anyone’s face, can it be discarded? That nearly halved the stack right there!
- Then we talked about the arrangement of the photos in the album: did she want to keep it chronological? She did, so we figured out how to divide the stack into each roll of film. Then she could look at the piles, see which had the “earliest” photo on top, and by that, collate them all together into one timeline. Now we have groups: 2-3 cake-cutting photos from each camera, 2-3 photos of the bouquet toss from each camera, etc.
- From those groups, she decided how much space to allocate in the album, and pared down to fit. This continued for an afternoon, and by the end, she had all the best photos, telling the story of her reception from the guests’ point of view. And most importantly, there wasn’t anything “missing.” The hundreds and hundreds of photos that didn’t make the cut…well, they wouldn’t have added anything to the story.
Junior’s first haircut? Three photos, tops: before, during, and after. Progress on the room addition? One a day, absolute maximum. And if all you did on day 23 was put a second coat of the same paint you put on in day 22? No photo. Eiffel Tower? From a distance, up close with you in it, panoramic from the top, maybe–maybe–some architectural shots.
Think about how you would describe or caption the photos: if at any point the description becomes “and here’s another shot of the Eiffel Tower,” I hate to break it to you, but it has ceased to be interesting. You can MAKE it interesting with good storytelling, if you’re actually making a scrapbook, but if your screensaver or digital frame is just scrolling through fifteen different views of what is, after all, scaffolding, you may find yourself explaining “well, you had to be there” an awful lot.”