What to Do With Boxes of Photos

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”

Thanks so much for your advice, Sarah! I do want to print out some recent pictures to make a baby album for Tom since he just turned one. Do you have any photo album plans?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.

Comments

  1. This post couldn’t have better timing for me. I got married a month ago and although we didn’t have disposable cameras or our guests (we thought it would be expensive to print all photos and then time consuming to scan them) we created a pro flickr account and gave all guests instructions on how to upload the photos from their digital cameras. We are still waiting for some guests to upload their pictures, but so far we’ve got almost 700 photos there.
    The professional photographer we hired will give us a CD with all the photos he took and then we’ll have to merge them all to create an album. I’m already stressing about it! I don’t want anyone left out of the pictures, but I also don’t want to create an album that is too long/boring to show our friends.
    Maybe the solution would be making two albums, one as a keepsake (I’m obviously not talking about including all 1000+ photos, but a broader selection) and one to show?

    • You can do one heirloom album and one with snapshots. I know someone else who did that too.

    • I think two albums is a great idea! For my main wedding album (a collage-style album the photographer made), I didn’t worry at all about including pictures of other people. When I was looking at scrapbook materials for my wedding pictures, I came across a quote that said “When a bride is with her lover, who cares about the wedding party?” and that was the attitude I adopted. My wedding day was about the love between me and my husband, and the pictures that showed that were the ones I wanted to emphasize. All the others (shots of family, etc) I gave to the people who were in them as a memento of the occasion.

      Amy´s last post…Amy- the un-photographer

    • I think two albums is perfect. We have our formal album that the photographer created, and then I made a scrapbook with other photos we took, leftovers from the professional photographer that didn’t make the formal album cut, and then of course all of the other things you would put in a scrapbook (special notes from loved ones, etc etc etc). It worked out really well. Although I must admit we don’t show our albums to anyone unless they ask … except of course our parents! It’s their duty to sit through those sorts of things right? ;)

  2. How timely. I just ordered a boat load of digital photographs even though I know it’ll be years before they make their way into an album.

    Unplanned Cooking´s last post…What are your goals

  3. the cottage child says:

    I’m slooooooooowly getting our printed pictures pared down. I have a half-dozen over-sized (over-priced) archival boxes that hold them all, but my goal is two. I’m setting aside about 100 good ones for a gorgeous photo album we got as a wedding gift 13 years ago…waiting for perfect *sigh*

  4. Fantastic advice! As a professional archivist, I spend a lot of my time sorting through the photos and papers of people who’ve long since passed on. Often these collections contain real gems, but the descendants can’t take the time to sort through hundreds or thousands of items, so everything gets handed over to the institution.

    Think of your photo collection as you’d think of your storytelling. Be interesting, illuminating, and succinct.

  5. I have a lot of photos I need to put in albums. Does anyone have advice where I can find good quality archival albums without spending a fortune? Is that even possible?

    • It does tend to be one of those situations where you get what you pay for. Perhaps the only advice is to collect JoAnn’s and Michael’s coupons and watch for sales.

      You already know to look for the keywords “acid free” and “lignin free” (acid and lignin break down and yellow papers, respectively), but “buffered” is a nice perk–that means that anything you put in that isn’t acid- and lignin- free (like a newspaper clipping) is less likely migrate its bad properties to the stuff around it.

      Please avoid “magnetic” albums, where you peel back plastic and stick stuff to mild adhesives. They’re really, really not cool in the long run. Really. Most of my teen years are in those. Which, you know, is cool, because all evidence of the whole awkward perm phase is more or less ruined, but there are photos of other family members it’d be nice to have.

      If you want plastic sleeves to slide photos in instead of paper pages to mount them on, any plastic components should be polypropylene, not PVC. PVC is common in cheaper/older albums, and you know what that C stands for. And you know what’s in bleach. And you can make that mental leap without my telling you.

      A bonus there would be having the sleeves sealed on the top (having the photos slide in from the sides); albums should be stored on end, like books, and if they’re open to the top, dust just falls in and collects.

      But yeah, once you start shopping with these ideas in mind, the prices are not so friendly. Emily the archivist above is probably working with products made by Hollinger, which is the “you get what you pay for” poster child; Creative Memories is more or less the consumer equivalent to Hollinger. There are cheaper alternatives, but that’s where you need to be more aware of the labeling: acid-free paper, lignin-free paper, polypropylene plastic.

  6. To record my pregnancy and my daughter’s first year, I bought a spiral-bound blank journal (about 10×10 in.). It has been a great (and easy!) way to collect a variety of memories. I have written directly on the pages, glued in newspaper clippings and hospital bracelets, and used photo squares to stick in photo prints (I ordered wallet sized so I could fit more on a page).

    Abby just turned one, and I finished the album in time to display it at her birthday party.

    (I posted some sample pages on my blog here: http://watsonsonline.wordpress.com/2009/11/16/scrapbooking-for-non-artistic-busy-dummies/ )

    Lindsey´s last post…Post Garage Sale

    • Let me tell you what I love about this..
      It is personal and it looks like YOU did it. (even though I don’t know you!) :)
      People make these beautiful (and expensive) scrapbooks, but it isn’t personal. They look very professional and like anyone could have made it.
      Your great-greats will be so glad you hand wrote this and made it personal to you.

      Emily Martin´s last post…KiNdErGaRtEn!

  7. Me again.

    A coworker’s wife had a great little scrapbook of her son’s “firsts.” It had all the normal baby book stuff–first bath, first steps, first tooth, and such–but where a lot of the pre-printed ones stop at “first birthday,” she kept it going. His first day of school and his first soccer game were in there, his first airplane trip, his first band concert…it may have his first girlfriend by now. It was an interesting way to capture all these moments of discovery and joy (and sometimes fear), and watch him grow. And she intentionally made it easy on herself: one photo on a page, not too fancy with the stickers and whatnot, and just write in the event and date.

    I think a lot of times we get bogged down in making perfect albums, and end up not doing anything at all. I remember another coworker, two years after her wedding, spending hundreds of dollars in a scrapbook store to buy all matching papers and stickers (even though she already had hundreds of dollars of wedding stuff on hand–it didn’t match of course). What she ultimately came up with was incredibly gorgeous, but by then she was sick of looking at it!

    That’s another reason to use your delete key often and be brutal in your paring of printed photos. The whole point of this is to pass along good memories and stories, not to make yourself miserable and create another chore. Keep the best and treat them well.

  8. This is a great post. I finally convinced myself (prior to my last move) that it is really okay to throw photos away… Just because someone took them and paid to print them doesn’t mean I have to keep them…

    Doris´s last post…Shining Star

  9. It’s so funny that you posted this! After your post on digital photos, I was inspired and pulled out my box of photos and threw away bundles of bad ones I didn’t care about.
    I’m hoping to take some of the really good ones and surprise my husband with a gallery of framed prints in our bedroom. The rest will probably just stay in the box.

    Amy´s last post…Amy- the un-photographer

  10. I’ve been pretty good about pulling just a few key photos into my scrapbooks, but it seems like a project where I’m always running behind. I’m tempted to stop creating my own paper albums and using an online vendor to create a book for me (perhaps yearly or by season depending on how many pics I have). My only concern is that the other “scrapbook” stuff (ticket stubs, wedding invites, etc) then fall by the wayside. Has anyone else moved in this direction? Are you happy with your decision? Any tips?

    PS For good quality albums I have had success with the Canson brand in the past.

    Juice´s last post…A Weekend With Forrest Gump

    • Although I have stacks of photos from our pre-digital years (see my other comment), I have been very good at creating albums for our digital photos.

      First I joined every digital processing option: online and at my local CVS/Walgreens etc–when they run specials you can’t beat the prices: 20 photos for $0.12 each, free 20 page photobook sign up offers etc.

      Every Valentine’s Day I give my family (husband & 4 kids) the photo album titled “THE BEST OF (insert year)”. It gives us a chance to remeber all the great things we did during the year and keeps it in ONE album.

      I also use a 3 ring binder with plastic sheet protectors and photo pages for each of my kids. This is where we save all thier must keep papers and awards from school and sports along with pitures from key events…a memory book that is easy to add to each year.

      • Wow, this is a really great idea! Love the 3-ring binder – I tend to use boxes, but this could be great, too!

    • This is a really old post but I can’t resist answering this. I want to scan in stuff to my computer that isn’t there already, including things like ticket stubs and cards. Then I want to assemble them into PDFs and upload them to Lulu to make color-page books. If you use OpenOffice you can open the Word equivalent application, import pictures, arrange things how you want and then export the whole shebang as a PDF without ever paying a dime for full-version Adobe Acrobat. It’s great.

      And yeah, it still costs money to publish the book–but you probably would have spent that much for good archival equipment anyway. Plus, nothing will ever come unglued and fall off the pages.

      AND, if you’ve got pictures you really don’t want to keep in physical form but don’t mind having them on your hard drive or in a book, there you go. A place to put them (well, in addition to the trash can).

  11. Since I still shoot film and that has it’s own expense that follows, I find that I am more apt to frame a photo I’ve taken that I really love. My storage is archival boxes from light impressions (www.lightimpressionsdirect.com) for all my negatives and contact sheets. I find using flickr to act as an album of sorts. I really love Lindsey’s idea of using a blank journal to document a special moment in time. Most sketchbooks at art supply stores are acid free (or tell you on the front) and lots cheaper than premade photo albums.

  12. I have made albums for each of my two kids. Extra photos of their birthdays, friends, vacations. It has proven to be quite helpful when they need to do a school project or want to share with their friends. I use the cheap plastic ones that you slip the photos into sleeves. Then I don’t have to worry about my “good” albums.

  13. No, I don’t have any photo album plans, though I have two empty scrapbook albums and all the papers and pictures to do something. I do have a box of photos, and it makes me feel better that you don’t feel the need to do something with your photos just because they are there. I may make albums at one point, but my boys (ages 3 and 1) aren’t that interested in looking at them right now for some reason, so I’m in no hurry :).

    Jenni @ Life from the Roof´s last post…Read and Recommended- Created for Work

  14. I would add that a potentially even better solution than keeping boxes full of photos is to have them professionally scanned. Pare them down to only the ones you’d keep anyway before you send them off to keep prices low. But when all is done, you’ve got digital copies that you can store on CDs or external hard drives. (If you toss the originals, make sure to back up the digital copies on at least 2 hard drives.)

    I had about 700 old slides from my childhood scanned last year that had been sitting in boxes in my parents’ closet for 15+ years. It was awesome to see them again, and have them in a modern, usable format!

    Sarah´s last post…links for 2010-09-19

    • Sarah, What company did you use to do this? Sheesh! I am comment crazy on this post, but I have a ton of interest in organizing photos. Thanks everyone!

  15. This is a very timely topic for me!

    I have a group of moms from school with a ’7 Months & 7 Projects’ goal. Each month (October through April) we tackle a different project and this October it is the bins/boxes/drawers of pictures we all have.

    I will be forwarding todays blog to those that do not already visit!

    Thanks for all the insight and inspiration!

    Maria K

  16. The best baby gift I got was a pre-made “my first year” album. The lady who gave it to me used to work in a scrapbook store, so it’s a gorgeously designed book, with a 2 page spread for each month of life. She did the first pages for me, with the stats on E’s weight and birth time, etc. Then each 2 page spread has a little part where we can write in notes, and then about a page and a half is blank for pictures. Plus, she even gave me a package of glue dots! So every month I jot down a few notes, print out 3 or 4 pictures and glue them in, and I’m making a super cute baby book! :)

  17. This is great news! Fortunately, I’m young enough that my most important pictures for my teenage+ years have all been on digital cameras. I do know, though, how overwhelming pounds and pounds of photo prints can be. Recently my mom moved and I spent a couple of hours (read an entire day) going through one single box of photographs. It was tiring work drudging though duplicates of photos that weren’t really that good to begin with.

    Simplicity is about keeping the things that are actually good and chucking the rest! Keeping sub-par items in a simple home means that you are sacrificing items to love to keep ones that you sort of like.

    Rule of thumb: Keep photos that make you break into a smile when you see them. Chuck photos that: aren’t good composition, are too dark, are too light, are repetitive, you can’t even remember when or where they were taken, etc. It will leave with a lot fewer headaches and a lot more smiles.

    Jennie´s last post…Praising Moderation

  18. Spectacular advice, both of you! Discarding pictures of children is so difficult, but you are right. Not every photograph tells a story and too many photographs reads more like a phone book than a carefully crafted novel. And here I was feeling oppressed by my photographs! No more!

    Zom G.´s last post…Whats the rule

  19. Great advice! One woman I know used to put a handful or two of loose pictures on the dinner table before everyone gathered. It gave guests something to look at and talk about before dinner started.

  20. I do the boxes for extra photos too. I have our…one labeled for each of my kids and one for everything else. It’s helpful when I’m looking for pictures to use for a project for the kids to have theirs sorted like this, and I figure maybe when they are grown, that box will be their pictures to take with them of childhood :)

    Ashley´s last post…Terms

    • Great idea Ashley! Someone always needs an extra picture or 2 for a project.
      Adding this to my helpful hints for octobers picture project!

  21. Some friends were recently visiting and shared pictures of their year spent in South America. They made digital photo albums via Snapfish. I thought this was a great idea. I love looking through old family photo albums at my parents’ home but in all honesty, I don’t print pictures anymore. In fact, I printed a few a couple of weeks ago of our new baby but before then I couldn’t even tell you the last time I actually printed photos – I just keep them on my computer. Our friends had a great tip – create a book for each year of our baby’s life. This way we can select the photos we really like and still have something tangible for us and her to look at.

    And thanks, Rachel for the delete post. I’ve already deleted some photos from my computer. I really don’t need 10 copies of the same shot. :)

    Nicole´s last post…nora 1 month

  22. Katie Weber says:

    I have a question. I was pretty organized growing up and put all my photos in albums. Now my husband and I live in a small place and I have been lugging around at least 20 albums everywhere we go. B/c they are photos they must be stored in a temperature controlled environment, so they are taking up the top two shelves in our linen closet. I haven’t looked at these photos in years and would love the space back. I have never considered discarding them, but am now contemplating it after reading your post. Any good suggestions on this? Should I take them out, go through them and put them in photo boxes?

    • You could do this and save some of your favorites or scan some so you have digital copies…

      Nicole´s last post…nora 1 month

    • I’ve dismantled two albums before, but they weren’t big. One was photos from junior high that I didn’t want to keep, and another had photos mounted on sticky pages.

      If you look at a photo album and you still like 75% of the photos in it, then keep the album. I don’t know if the time it would take to do all those albums would be worth the saved space unless you know for sure you’re willing to discard several of the photos they contain.

  23. We have been going through some very old photos. One thing that would be helpful for the print photos that you do want to keep is to put the names of the people that appear on the back. If you ever want to trace your family history it can be a great help.

    • I second this as my grandfather gifted me all his photographs when I was in high school and really getting into photography. He took the time to write in pencil on the back of every photograph along with the date. Now that he’s gone, I treasure seeing the notes he left behind.

  24. As always, great information. Perfect timing too – have several photo boxes and empty photo albums too. Just have not had the time to start it but now I think I will keep the boxes which are already organized! Thanks!

    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s last post…More Multi-Meal Cooking

  25. We, too, have two photo boxes that contain photos my husband had growing up. A few of the photos have been deemed unnecessary and have been removed – ex-girlfriend, etc. But, the other ones provide a lot of entertainment for my children who love to see Daddy and his family when they were all young. I’ve been really good about creating albums for my children and keeping on top of the organizing. We have albums that are designated for vacations only and I try to write down as many details as I can remember as soon as we return from our trip. We really enjoy looking through the albums and know that we’ll really cherish them when the children are grown.

  26. For Katie lugging around albums…consider scanning the pages, then printing them out as a book (from one of the online photo places). They’re compact and don’t need special storage.

  27. I snapped pictures of each of my sons on the same day of the week every week for the first year of their lives but I haven’t done anything with them yet. My goal is to make a my publisher book for them of the first year. I’m watching for the BOGO offers so there will be a copy that they can handle to their hearts’ content and one that will be more pristine for later.

    Keeping a blog has helped me narrow down my photos. It’s better to post a few great pictures and dialogue than a ton of mediocre ones. All the comments on this post have been great. Thanks!

  28. I like real albums too, but now I take all digital photos and keep everything on computer or CDs for back up.

    I have tried to do craft with physical album but I have given up everytime, so I also have pictures in boxes.

    I have a hall, which is a picture frame hall, that is where I display some of the pictures of kids, family and friends and occasionally I change them for refresh and more updated look.

    Preeti @ Heart and Mind´s last post…Top 10 reasons why I am not on Twitter

  29. After reading the last post, I started going through my albums from the last 20 years. Today, I cut ONE album from 500 pictures down to 350 (and I’m sure I can take it further), and that was just for a 9-month span when I was in college. Holy crap, I took A LOT of pictures back in the day! I removed all the multiple-shots-of-the-same-thing, lots of people I don’t remember, and lots of people who really didn’t matter much to me in the first place. But when I was putting these books together, I obviously kept EVERYTHING. No more!

  30. I know your blog isn’t new, but it’s new to me and I love it so I left you an award on my blog.

    Take care!
    Shondra
    http://www.shoni-walkwithme.blogspot.com

  31. Love! Love! Love this post! I have a TON of photos that need attention. They are here, there, and everywhere. I’ve been on the fence about how to go about organizing and storing them and just recently I settled on the idea of using photo boxes. They’re pretty. They’re inexpensive. They look nice and organized on the shelf. I still plan to put my favorites in a “best of” album or two, as well as pull several photos of my ds through the years and get his baby album together. I also plan to do some small holiday theme albums, but the vast majority of my pics are going to get labeled on the back with an archival photo marker and then filed in photo boxes. I can’t wait to get started! Thanks, again, for this timely post. I’m really enjoying your photo series.

  32. I’d like to remind everyone to be extremely careful about buying anything from regular stores that say “archival-quality” on them. There are no laws about this, so anyone can slap the title onto their album and then your pictures will be ruined. The best option is to do like archives to and order some Hollinger (for example) boxes and then store the photos carefully in there. You can order some Mylar photo holders to keep the photos from touching each other plus to keep your damaging fingerprints/oils off the photos too.

    Amanda´s last post…LIS 631 Reading Notes

  33. Current project: A Week in the Life from Ali Edwards,
    http://aliedwards.com/2010/01/week-in-the-life.html

  34. The best tip I ever got from an organizing book was to realize that I didn’t have to keep photos I didn’t want! Especially photos of other people’s families (birthday, school, Christmas, etc.) that they give me. It was like I needed permission to throw them away. I currently have one album per year for photos and one photo box per child for things that don’t fit in the album. Nieces, nephews, friends pics go on the fridge and are thrown away and replaced when they give us new ones.

    After helping to clean out my deceased grandfather’s house, I was able to pare down the photos I keep even more. He had so many photos that no one in the family wanted! I decided not to do that to my own children someday.

  35. Who actually spends the money for the really good quality archival quality books? How long will pictures last that aren’t in those books?

    To me, it doesn’t matter if the pictures my grandchildren see of me are yellowed. I have pictures of when my grandfather was in college and they’re in great condition. They were thrown in a box in a closet for 50+ years. The photo paper seems to be much better quality than what is used today.

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about this…

    Thanks for the post Rachel, it’s really got us thinking!

  36. GONG

    That was the reminder sound for myself that I need to go through my pics more often and sort through them!

    I do have to say one of my favorite things to do growing up was to go through my mom’s boxes of photos from the 50′s-70′s. I’m sure I never put them back in the right order, though…oh well!

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Travels to Canada- Return to Whistler

  37. Brilliant, thank you! Thank you Rachel!!! I set myself the goal of dealing with photos at the beginning of this year but have just not been able to get there – it all seemed too hard. But, I think I am going to follow these steps – I esp. love the bit: 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.

    angelvalerie´s last post…about that groove…getting out of the mud

  38. I love photo boxes. I’ve been using them for ten years or so and will not go back to albums except for special cases (junior’s first year, our wedding, etc) and actually, those are digital-print books and not albums (since we no longer use film).

    Occasionally we do make prints from best digital shots though, since we are both IT professionals and as such very wary about how digital info will be preserved ;) These go in boxes.

    I think it is better than albums – they are fun to sort through, you can make notes (people, dates, events) to the back side of the photo and actually see them (which also makes sure the info won’t disappear as it would if you took a photo off album that had the info). It feels cozy to just take a stack of photos and go through them. My biggest problem these days is that most “photo boxes” do not have vertical support and photos fall to the bottom…the older ones always had them. Well, I’ll stack up when I find good ones again.

  39. On my Christmas wish list this year: a photo/negative/slide scanner to not only take care of my boxes of photos, but to convert my mom’s and mother-in-law’s collection to digital. I’m hoping I can get them to work on labeling/dating the images before we all forgot what they were!

  40. Since I take digital photos I have found that it is actually less expensive to make a photo album with Blurb and then order the printed books for us and grandparents. I was spending the time and money to print out my photos, buy albums and then make the albums…The printed books have captions, different backgrounds that look like scrapbook paper and look very professional. The only downside is that my mom still complains she doesn’t have enough photos to put on her fridge.

  41. Thank you for this post. With the emphasis on memory scrapbooks, it has made me feel like a bad mother because I don’t have a ton of photos or have them organized in scrapbooks. I am in my 50s and have black and white photos of my life, and some of my son’s. We didn’t have digital cameras when he grew up, so I have film. I will put the photos back in the boxes and get that guilt off of me!
    lynda t´s last post…Studio Transition

  42. Kim Fahrni says:

    I have a sickness, I confess….. I have kept EVERY photo of our family for the last 23 years! I can not throw away any photo with my precious babies faces on them. I have scrap booked for years and have 7 full albums but the piles of photos still persist!! Even AFTER putting the “best” photos in scrap books, I still store the unused ones “just in case”. We are now empty nesters which makes getting rid of them even harder, so my advice… Do it SOONER rather than later. It never gets any easier to get rid of them. Anyone else this sick?? ;-)

  43. George S. Semsel says:

    Learn to edit. Be ruthless. Get rid of the duplicates or near-duplicates of people standing in front of Washington Monument, etc. One good picture of Johnny’s birthday is sufficient. At the very least, write down who is in the photo, the date of the photo, and the place. Get rid of photos no one can identify. I inherited boxes of photos without this information. Most are meaningless to me. Except for specific relatives, I don’t know who the people are, where they were photographed, why, or when. An album with a photo or two on one page facing a short write-up on the facing page has more meaning than a book full of nameless faces. Edit. Edit. Edit.

  44. If you’re going to keep prints in a box, it’s useful to also find yourself some archival-quality paper envelopes to keep them in (or maybe the mylar, as another commenter mentioned, but I find those are larger and harder to fit into photo boxes). Light Impressions sells the envelopes and also has a sticker system you can use if any of your prints are from negatives, so you can tell which prints go with which negatives without having to look at the negatives. The negatives can go into sleeve pages. I had this all set up perfectly and then my husband and I broke up suddenly and his parents wound up with MY photographs, right on down to my baby pictures and they mixed everything up and destroyed my system (and lost most of my negatives!). So. Another suggestion for keeping your photos organized: do not let them fall into enemy hands. Meh.