Free Your Space: A picture is worth 1,000 words

is a popular anniversary month. This June my husband and I were fortunate
enough to celebrate our 25th. In preparation for this milestone, I
spent a good amount of time organizing the last 25 years worth of photos. Some were already stored in
albums. I must admit, however,
that somewhere before the halfway mark of our quarter century the momentum was
lost and batches of photographs found their way into drawers, boxes and bags,
randomly scattered throughout the house.

to the saying, a single glance at a photo of an early vacation or one of the
kids with a missing tooth was enough to elicit warm memories and funny stories –
a thousand words.

1,000 words? Too bad they’re not
worth $1,000! It seemed like I had
millions of them – and that’s excluding the digitals.

a recent training on organizing and preserving photos I learned that in the
cases of fire or situations involving home-evacuation, pictures rank second
only to living things (people and pets) for what we want rescued. If these precious and priceless
memories are counted among our dearest and most prized possessions, maybe our
scattered storage solutions are not quite the way to go.

to my anniversary endeavor, I am happy to report that the process for
organizing photos is more fun and less painful than I had imagined (mind you, I
had avoided this for over a dozen years and what I had imagined was not
pretty). Since my experience was a
pleasant one, I would like to share the process that took me my memories from
random chaos to easy-to-find, -use, and -share treasures. I suggest tackling the task in four
phases or steps: Gather, Sort, Scan, and Store.

begin, you will need to collect a few basic supplies:

a photo-labeling pencil or pen to mark dates on the back of your

photo-safe storage boxes (or shoe boxes)

Index cards for dividers

ALL of your printed photos

you have all your photos and supplies gathered, set-aside some time to
sort. Unless you have a deadline,
two hours once or twice a week works well. Sorting:

Mark the date on the envelope

Flip through the pictures - throw away any that you don’t want,
return duplicates to the envelope and write the date on the backs of the

Put the photos and an index card dated by year into one of your
storage boxes

your objective – whether you are looking to create albums for each of your
children, vacation or anniversary albums – I found that organizing by year gave
me the most flexibility and easiest search-ability later on.

sorted it is time to scan. There
are certainly ways of doing this process yourself. You could use your home scanner if you have one, bring them
in batches to scan at a local store or buy some type of bulk photo scanning
machine. But, if you are facing
years of photographs like I was, I highly suggest paying to have them
bulk-scanned by a reputable company.
There are several online companies that will accept your boxed photos
and send them back to you along with CDs of all the scanned pictures. I personally used a local company, The prices are
reasonable, they are timely and reliable and Max, the owner, picked them up and
delivered them back to my doorstep.
If you consider that you may wish to keep one to two hundred per year
and multiply that by the number of years you are sorting through, bulk-scanning
is well worth the money.

once you have all your photos on discs, you can decide how you’d like to “store”
them. You may want to choose some
to make into digitally-printed photo albums like the kinds offered by companies
like Or you might
want to organize them by person or event and break them down into multiple CD’s
to make as gifts or screen-savers.
You can also upload them to an online storage company to save in case
something happens to your own discs.
In the end, whatever you decide, I guarantee that the results will put a
smile on your face worthy of a thousand words!

contact Annette Reyman for photo organizing, gift certificates, or speaking
engagements in the Greater Philadelphia area call (908) 361-7105 or email her

Annette Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional
Organizers and its Philadelphia Chapter View her Web site at To
contact Annette for organizing work or speaking engagements in the Greater
Philadelphia area call (908) 361-7105 or email her at

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