Pictures and photographs from many generations can take up a lot of space and going through them can seem like a daunting task! In this episode I share what I did to organize many years of family photos and how you can organize and minimize your collection without sacrificing the memories or family history in the photographs.
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Full Episode Transcription (not edited):
Pictures and photographs or many generations can take up a lot of space and going through them can seem like a daunting task. In this episode, I share what I did to organize many years of family photos and how you can organize and minimize your collection without sacrificing the memories or family history in those photographs. Hey friends, quick tips that make a big impact in your daily life are my favorite ways to implement systems around the house. I’ve been sharing easy strategies and my go-to organizing products for tip Tuesday on the intentional at Instagram feed for a few years. Now I’m excited to bring it to the podcast with short episodes, answering your questions every Tuesday. If you want me to answer your questions, go to the podcast page on intentional, edit.com and submit your questions there. Let’s get started on this tip Tuesday episode of the intentional edit podcast.
Hey there, thanks for joining me for this tip Tuesday episode. It’s hard to believe we are at already at episode 73. Today, we are talking all about photographs, pictures, the pictures that are printed, that we’ve had for many, many years, maybe even many generations what to do with those. And I’m going to tell you what I did when I tackled the boxes and bins of pictures in my house. But first I wanna ask you for a favor, if you are loving the intentional edit podcast, or if I have shared anything on any of the episodes that you have listened to, that you find helpful. Please leave a review for me on the apple podcast app. If you’re listening right now, all you have to do is click on the stars. You can click if you click like the five stars, and then it will say, leave a review.
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And if you haven’t, I would love if you could do that today. Now let me answer this listener question. The question that came in says, what do I do about duplicate photographs and large prints? I have too many photos to keep storing and some are in a number of sizes and I have more than one. Also. What do I do with old photographs that are in the closet and attic never looked at, but feel guilty about tossing them out. I’m gonna share with you what I did to deal with my family photos. On one side of my family, I had been given a couple big bins, like very heavy, big storage containers or tubs or whatever you wanna call them of old family photos that were mostly from my grandparents. And I’d looked at them and gone through them a little bit. And I even had like one and a half of those big tubs that were photo albums, but it was with the sticky photo albums that were actually causing some of the pictures to disintegrate because of the glue that was on there.
And I knew I wanted to salvage those pictures. I worked at a photography studio in high school and college photographs are very important to me and I decorate my house with them. I love having photo collages or gallery walls or any of that. And I love going to people’s homes and seeing those pictures from over the years, I didn’t want to discard them, but I also have become over the years, very intentional about what I let take up space in my home. I knew I couldn’t store all of these in these big tubs anymore. It was always my attention to, to tackle this project of going through the photos. What happened at the beginning of the pandemic when we were all strictly locked at home and couldn’t go anywhere. I decided to tackle this project. I would pull out a handful of photos and I would put them in stacks by what they were, or I would take them out of the albums, the albums that were causing them to basically disintegrate and lose their color and lose part of the photo.
Because I knew if I didn’t tackle this for 10 years or 20 years or left it, you know, for the next generation to deal with most of those pictures and those albums would probably be completely gone when I could salvage them. I took them out. And what I noticed is sometimes there would be a series of pictures where these are very old, black and white pictures of a cat. And it was the cat looking to the right, the cat with its eyes closed. The cat’s looking to the left, a cat looking down. I don’t need all of those pictures of a cat that I don’t even know who that cat is. Some pictures you can discard because they don’t have any meaning. Other times in that particular scenario, there would be a group of people and there would be five or six pictures of that same group of people.
At the same time, I would look for the best picture of that group. Try to find one where everyone is looking at the camera, where everyone’s eyes are open with the best picture. And I would save the picture that was the best, put that in a pile. And then when my pile got to about 75 to a hundred pictures, I would go ahead and scan all those in. And then I saved them according to their date. Luckily, a lot of the pictures had the date stamped on them or put on the back. If it didn’t, I base it on the best timeframe I could. When we’re talking about pictures from the 1920s or thirties or forties, and you’re going back 75 years, if you are off a couple years, it’s okay. You don’t have to know the exact date. You’re getting the timeframe, right? And even if you have no idea scanning them in and then just putting them into a folder is a way to save them.
You know, that they’re there, you know, that they’re safe keeping. So I took many days, many, many hours. I wish I would’ve actually calculated those hours to figure out what it was because this project was a huge undertaking. And I scanned all the pictures that were important to keep any picture. That was a duplicate. I did not keep them all. I only kept one. There were some larger pictures and I bought one of those containers. It is the hour box from the container store because it’s safer photos. And I bought it in a bigger size so that the larger ones, like we had 11 by 14, since some 16 by twenties that were too big for my scanner capabilities. Eventually I would like to take those to have professionally scanned and then I can store them in the folders on the computer so that they’re all together.
That’s one part of the project I haven’t done. When you are going through your family photos and you have a lot of pictures. And one part of this question was I have a number of pictures where it’s the same picture in multiple sizes. You don’t need to keep those. If you have old professional pictures or pictures that you got printed, where you have an eight by 10, a five by 7, 4, 4 by fives, just pick one, keep one of those. If you’re not going to scan them in. And you’re just trying to weed down the piles and store them in a safe container for photographs, you don’t need to keep the envelope they came in. You don’t need to keep the 10 pictures from school picture day, just pick one, pick one, and then organize it. And I think the best way to organize photos is by dates when you put them in a chronological order so that you can see over time, if you’re scanning them in, then get rid of the ones that are duplicates.
Get rid of the ones that are similar, where you have a few pictures that are basically the same thing. Find the best one and scan that in. If you choose to scan them in and save them on your computer, I like to think they’re safe. But the reason I feel confident in that is because I have backups and I actually have two backups. They are saved on the hard drive of my computer. I also saved them in a photo sharing software, something like a Snapfish type of thing. I saved them to that. And then I was able to share those albums with family members. I also saved them on an external hard drive that I have in a completely different place that you can lock that away in a safe, you could take it to a safety deposit box and have it off site. You could send it to another family member, but there’s ways to make sure that you have these photos in duplicate places.
So they are safe. Then you are sure to have them for the future. If you are tackling this project, it’s a big one. Like I said, I love chronological order. If you have large prints, there are places you can ship them off to. Or sometimes if you have a photography store near you, you can go into a place like that and see what they can scan. You could even check at office supply stores. Sometimes they have the ability to scan and you just pay for each scan and it’s not very expensive. And then you can have those bigger prints now scanned, and you have a digital copy of those, like any decluttering project, be ruthless with your decluttering. And if you feel like these pictures that you have, if some of them would be helpful for a distant relative or someone else would like them, you can scan them.
You can make copies, keep them for yourself, and then also send them on. I know I did that to some family members. I sent some that they would like to see and that now they can have, I have the scanned copy also, and now they have the printed one. And if that’s how they want to keep theirs, that’s fine. But I also sent them the scan version. So they have those as well. Don’t feel guilty about getting rid of your photographs, especially when they’re duplicates. You only need one. This is a big project will take a lot of time. You’re sorting through individual things. Take it in small steps. Don’t think about doing it as one big task, go little bits at a time. If you have 30 minutes here, 30 minutes there use that time sort through one pile, sort through a couple pages in an album, figure out what works best with the time that you have available. And before you know it, you will have tackled this whole project and have it behind you. Good luck with all of your organizing and decluttering and purging of your family, photos and large prints and things like that. Thank you for listening to this tip Tuesday episode, and I will meet you back here on Friday for the next episode of the intentional edit podcast.
That wraps up another quick episode of a tip Tuesday. If you want to be featured on intentional edits, tip Tuesday, go to intentional, edit.com, click on the podcast page in the menu bar, and then scroll all the way down to the bottom. You’ll find a button that says record, tap on that and record your question or share what is currently overwhelming to you. What is going on that you need help with? I want to know I needed to know your struggles so I can share actionable solutions to help you create simplicity in your home. If you are having this issue. I know other people are having it too, and we wanna help as many people as possible. Head over to the podcast page of intentional, edit.com and record your question for me there.
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Lauren is the founder of Intentional Edit, a home organization and lifestyle company focused on consciously editing to create efficient and organized spaces. Lauren believes that a functional home that looks and feels good has a positive influence on all aspects of life. Creating systems that allow for the home to function more efficiently, therefore, eliminating most of the clutter and chaos is her priority. While trends come and go organization is always in style!
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