Taming the Chaos part 1

Congratulations, you are the proud owner of 62 boxes of photographs, slides, negatives and other mementos from grandma’s attic.   

You remember this picture don’t you? 

You’re probably feeling overwhelmed and already exhausted just thinking about sorting through the boxes.  Don’t worry, you can do this.   

The first thing you need is a PLAN.  Grab a cup of tea and fire up your laptop.  If you Google “Organize old photos” you can find several pages of tips, tricks and ideas.   I like to read a few and use the pick and choose method.  I pick a few ideas from this page, and a few from that page, finding ideas that sound doable to me.  

You may find some good tips on these pages.

Once you have some ideas go back and look over what you have.  The most important first steps should always be Where are you going to sort and   What will you use to hold the items you are sorting.  Remember, for this first pass any old shoebox will do.  Be sure to find a Where that you can leave undisturbed until you’ve finished your project.   

Make sure to label the boxes.  This can be as broad as you like since the main idea is to separate the chaos into meaningful piles.  

IF you truly have 62 boxes you may want to break the project into small sections. It took several lifetimes to collect these memories and you should take your time to do it right.  I like to pick a day that has nothing else planned and I have the WHOLE day to myself. I turn on some good music and brew a cup of tea before tackling the closest box.  

Remember, you are allowed to throw away pictures so keep a trash can close by.  Be brave and cull those piles. Some things to think about are: 

  • You have 5 copies of the exact same picture…. Toss the duplicates 
  • If it’s so blurry you can’t tell what the picture is……. Toss it 
  • Unknown and unlabeled landscapes…… ok, if you can’t toss it add it to the “Ask the family” box and THEN toss it  

The idea is to digitize all the best photos, store them away and share the digitized versions.  

As you’re sorting your keepsakes you should think about your final goals.  I’ve mentioned ‘digitize’ several times.  By digitizing you will preserve your photos, slides and negatives and create useable images to share with friends and family.  The original items can be safely stored (along with a duplicate of the hard drive or USB drive you choose to store the images on) while you’ll be able use the digital images without fear of losing or damaging them. 

I think that’s enough for now. 

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