It’s that time of year where we start to Marie Kondo every area of our lives—closets, kitchens, attics. But the one that consistently gets overlooked (or that we swear we’ll get to next time) is that collection of loose pictures that continues to accumulate, and most likely gather dust. It can be a daunting task, especially as the years go by and less pictures are being printed—they become an afterthought. But we’re here to make a case for why this project is worth the time, and why you absolutely should be printing your pictures!
Technology isn’t perfect, and let’s be honest, we’re not all tech wizards. We also have no guarantee of what technology will look like in the future—think about the advancements made in photography and computer storage in the last 20 years alone, and how many images have been lost in the rapid advancement of both photography and digital storage. The unfortunate truth is that our photo preservation processes don’t evolve as quickly as the technology around them. Think about how easy it would be to lose all of the images on your phone or computer if something were to compromise your cloud or your device gets stolen—especially if you don’t have them all backed up to multiple locations. So let’s get onto how you can preserve the prints you’ve already collected, and also the precious memories sitting in your phone’s photo album. (Don’t believe us? Check out this infographic from Nations Photo Lab on Why You Should Print Your Photos!)
Step 1: Reduce and Sort
There’s a good chance those boxes of photos not only have duplicates, but they also have pictures you don’t need to hold onto. Plenty of blurry faces, closed eyes, and random landscapes. The more you focus on pictures that tell a story or evoke an important memory, the less you’ll have to worry about organizing a million pictures from one single event. This is truly where you can use your minimalism skills—only keep what brings you joy and what you want to continue to look back on for years to come. Before you begin to sort, you’ll need to decide how you’re going to organize your images for your photo albums or boxes. Do you want to show the images in chronological order? Will each family member get their own book/box? Do you want to organize by holidays, vacations, birthdays, etc.? Decide before you go through them and it’ll make the next steps much simpler! This is also a great opportunity to pull out a few that you might want to put on your walls or somewhere you’ll see every day.
Step 2: Digitize Your Photos
I know, I know—didn’t we just lecture you about the importance of printing your photos? Yes! And that is still the best way to preserve them. However, there are plenty of added benefits to digitizing prints as well. You can never be too careful, and having a second copy anywhere is better than only having the original. Digitizing photos also makes it easier to share old, forgotten pictures with friends and family. Having both a digital and physical copy of an image provides a wide safety net and gives you more capacity to show off your memories. There are plenty of great options online for getting your images scanned, like Legacybox and ScanCafe—you could also find a local photo store that offers scanning services.
Step 3: Store or Display
Now that you have your photos sorted into groups and have digital backups, decide how you’d like to store them. They could always go back into storage—however, we highly suggest you skip the shoeboxes and clear plastic bins and instead go for a protective photo box with index cards to help keep your photos organized and safe. If you do want to keep them stored, put them in a safe and climate controlled living space that is out of direct sunlight—skip the garage or basement where they’re more likely to be negatively impacted by the changing elements. An added bonus of keeping them in your living space? They’ll be more accessible to everyone in your home, and are more likely to be taken out and shared—and isn’t that their purpose after all? Another option is to dive into creating photo albums or photo books. This is a great way to get creative with layouts, storytelling, and aesthetics. Etsy has plenty of beautiful photo album options, or if you\’re looking to create an album out of photos that are currently only digital (a great way to knock off two steps in one), try one of Artifact Uprising’s beautiful photo books.
So don’t put this one off any further—enjoy and preserve the beautiful memories you have with your loved ones. Because, after all, pictures are meant to be seen and to inspire us to tell the stories that bring us all together.