Weekly Planner: Organize Your Photographs

scrapbookDo you have piles of photographs waiting to be identified and put into albums? Grab a stack and some archival, clear plastic sleeves and curl up in your favorite comfy chair. Start the project by sorting the photos by date into large plastic sleeves, grouping them by event, date, or person, and labeling them as you go. Don’t worry about arranging them and putting them into albums yet. Once you have this presort done, it’s easy to plan the layout of your photo albums. One more tip: Keep some extra empty sleeves around and when you get your photos developed or printed next time, just add them to the sleeves right away and you’ll have this step out of the way.

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18 thoughts on “Weekly Planner: Organize Your Photographs

  1. My husband and I have been taking photographs for over 37 years. Right from the very beginning, we have inserted our photos in chronological order in archival pages from: centuryphoto.com. They have several qualities for different prices. They also sell numerouse types of albums and pages.

  2. Photo sleeves can be purchased in many retail stores which carry photo albums and supplies. Often, good, inexpensive albums with “pocket sleeves” are put on sale and are sometimes found packaged in mutiple sets at places like COSTCO and SAMS CLUB outlets. The retail stores (ie: Longs Drugs, Walgreens and WalMart, Target, etc) also carry “refill pages” for albums in many of the popular size formats(3.5 x 5, 4×6, etc.)

  3. Some of the plastic sleeves sold in office supply stores carry a brand name in gold on the edge of every page. I hate that! Once I pay for an item, it is mine, and I do not want to exhibit a brand name.
    Although I am reluctant to patronize Sam’s club, they do carry archival sleeves without advertizing. I checked with an archivist to be sure they are safe.

  4. Creative Memories offers a variety of options for long term storage, including 4×6 polpropylene sleeves as well as other sizes. Also a new “slip in” style album called “Picfolio” is great for those who do not want to “scrapbook”. You can find a local Consultant at http://www.creativememories.com. I hope you don’t mind the commercial, but I love these products!

  5. What this article also should have said is not to write on the backs of the photos with a ball point pen — ink can bleed through to the photo.

  6. Whether I get regular photographs back from processing, in E-mail from friends or family, or download images from a digital camera I always put the information on the back or title digital images immediatedly. With regular photos I also record the frame number for easy location of the negative for more prints. This is all done before I show the pictures to anyone else. Once someone else gets hold of the pictures they will probably not be in the original sequence and the dating will be more difficult. Remembering dates and other information is much easier on digital photos if you download ASAP. Don’t wait and you won’t forget the vital information.

  7. Great idea. I just wish my grandmother and mother had done that starting about 100 years ago! At 74 myself, I now stare at more than a dozen large boxes that need to be sorted, identified, and put in some sort of preservation as well as being scanned and burned to a CD.

    Charlie Brown

  8. It is NOT possible to sort through all those photos without being swept away by sentiment. I get to the three little boys, ages 10, 7, and 7 months: the daydreamer, Mr. congeniality, and Mommy’s pretty boy in that order before I get all choked up. That was back in 1978! Perhaps I’m not a detail person, but I would rather record exactly what I was feeling, what I see now in retrospect, what happened next, etc. Character and Plot are everything to the legacy we leave our descendents.

  9. Last year I discovered 2 remaarkable archival safe, acid free products: 1) self-stick labels ; 2) inked stamp pads w/ re-inkers. I now print names, events, place names, etc. on the labels leaving space for stamping the date. For the names most frequently used, I make whole pages, putting as many on each label that will fit. Then I cut and “file” in the spaces of a storage box (tackle box with drawers from WallyWorld). When I get the pix, I then make as many place/event labels as there are applicable pix. For places that are recurring, I make & file as with names. For recurring events, I make labels with the event name and partial date (“Christmas, 12/ “) which I fill in using an acid free, archival pen. I know this process sounds laborious, but once you get basic labels made & cut, it is fast, efficient, and LEGIBLE! Legiblity is important to me since my handwriting is often iffy since I had a stroke.

  10. In addition to the afore mentioned advice, a store called “Archivers” may be in an area near you. I’m not sure how many stores they have in the U.S.and they may only be in the U.S., but many countries have scrapbooking and any of those stores will have the archival sleeves as well.

  11. After I caught up with my stacks of photos and put them in photo albums, I went one step further to stay caught up. At the beginning of each new year, starting with January, I put any newly developed photos in a previously purchased album and continue with each month thereafter ending with New Years Eve and now have an album with memories for each year. Each album is dated with the appropriate year on the side and can easily be seen. If any family or friends want to have a look at photos during a specific year, I don’t need to “burrow” through boxes. Many a “good natured discussion” as to when “we took that trip to “Timbuktu” has been easily resolved by going right to that album! I give “special trips and vacations” their own albums which keeps them “special!”

  12. This is good advice; and, I’d like to add my own two cents worth to it. Whenever you get film back from the developer always take the time to sit down and write on the back of each and every pic. the month and year and a brief description of who, what, and where. In Jan. 1996 my mom and I spent six weekends in a row sorting through a half-century of family photographs with nary a one with nothing more than a blank back to it. I guess today with the digital stuff available the date and even the time can be taken care for you. Even so our memories are rather fragile over time; and what if you have an accident and your synpases and dendrites are turned to mush.

  13. Questions re: eqeo’s #10 post. Are you using a special self stick label or something that you find in an office supply store? Can the archival pen also be found in a scrapbooking center? Boy, do I feel guilty about using pen on the back of the few old photos I have had time to do.

  14. This is wonderful advice…now lets see if I can get through 30+ years of snapshots. Oh, my…will I ever get it finished. Heck, Im pretty old already.

    Thanks again to you all/

  15. I agree – once you get them sorted into smaller chunks, you can sit down here and there and tackle a smaller chunk. Just be sure you are storing them in a safe environment.

  16. Marking the back can not be emphasized enough. I filled and took 6 albums of family photos taken at various times 2 albums that were obviously reunions. I took these to three family reunions and met with several aunts uncles and cousins in the days after. I also took them to 2 cemetery meetings so far and was rewarded with many unknown names. I put 3 photos to the page leaving a lot of room for recording the names each evening I took the slips of paper that had been taped to the sleves and entered the names into the albums. the next day new names were added as the fact that a person was identified reminded someone of the others in the photo. Often comments like she is married and I do not know her new name or he is Virginia’s husband were looked up on the genealogy program and the name added.

    Now to pull each photo and record on the back who is on them. I have found that an artists pencil works well and by its nature will not harm paper. They come in varing hardnesses and a rainbow of colors I use black and a blue and a #2 hardness for most photos not knowing what would work best I purchased a variety and tried them out on those accidental photos of the grass or the top of a headstone. The blue works well on those old photos with dark backs that regular black is just hard to read.

    For digital photos if you right click and choose properties there is an area for recording text information under one of the tabs it is fairly large as I have copied and pasted descendant reports for 4 generations with some images. Unfortunatley many do not know about this and will never check a read me file on CD’s lets people know that there is more than a photo for some of them. Additional information in the file name can also be useful such as “William Smith b1898” to identify which William is in the photo.


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