Photo Organization – Tackling Those Pre-Digital Prints and Slides

This photo organization procedure is here to help those of us with what may seem like a insurmountable challenge. You have a lot of old pre-digital photographs you want to organize. Some are in albums, some are in their envelopes from the developer, some are loose, some are slides… and it’s feeling a little overwhelming. Organizing them is a big job but you can do it!

After we followed these steps, my husband and I now have all our photos organized chronologically, digitized, backed up, and the volume reduced by about 80%.

ancora crafts projects photo organizationThis photo shows my collection of printed photos and memorabilia BEFORE I organized them. Note the albums and the other box of photos on the chair in the corner.

Things to have handy: business size envelopes, manila folders, post-it notes, pen and pencil, note paper, time, and focus. Let’s get started!

Photo Organization Step 1: Take all the photos out of their envelopes, albums, boxes, etc., and put them into chronological order.

You don’t have to dig and find the earliest photos first. Just grab an album, envelope, box, or stack and start taking out the photos. If the album is of a certain occasion, say you went to Kauai in February 2012, put all the photos in an envelope with “February 2012 Kauai” written on it.

If there is no specific occasion, can you determine the month and the year (this was around Mom’s 50th birthday, this was around Chris’ high school graduation)? If you can, put it in another envelope with, for example, “March 1987”, on it. If not, can you determine the year? If you can, put it in another envelope with, for example, “1975”, on it. If not, can you determine the decade? If so, put it in another envelope with, for example, “1940’s”, on it. Keep these envelopes in order because you’re going to find more photos that go in these envelopes as you progress through the pile. [You’re going to love those photos with the date printed on the margins.]

As you go through the photos, if there are any blurry photos, duplicates, shots of the back of someone’s head, or just subjects that are not important (e.g., poorly photographed scenery) THROW THEM OUT! No big deal, who cares! And it’s less to deal with later.

The idea here is that EVERY photo gets put in an envelope or tossed out as part of this first step.

You’re going to find all sizes of photos. Most everything will fit into an open business envelope, but there are going to be some 8 x 10’s or maybe some even larger, so put those in the manila folders and label the folders same as the business envelopes and keep them together.

photo organization - timelineAs you create the envelopes, it will help to make a sort of timeline of events for the family. As this timeline develops, it will make it easier to date the photos. Making a chronological list of dates for birthdays, graduations, weddings, travels, funerals, new houses, etc. will help.

 

Note 1: This excludes photo albums over 60 years old or where there are written notations in the album that identifies the people, places, and things in the photos – but only if these photo albums have any meaning to you. This also excludes scrapbooks with more than photos. I’ll describe more about what to do with notated albums and scrapbooks in Step 3.

Note 2: Negatives. What to do with them? I say toss ‘em, only unless you see a terrific (and I mean it better be National Geographic cover worthy) photo that you would want to get a reprint of. Then get the reprint made and move on.

Photo Organization Step 2: Refine the envelopes

You’ve got an envelope with photos from say, November 1985 for Monica and Bob’s wedding. Hurray! However, how many photos tell a story? Lay out the photos on a table and really sort through them. How many photos do you need of each person at this event? Do you need four photos of the cake? How many photos of the dances do you need? Pick the best and toss the rest.

You’ve got an envelope with photos from 1977. Once again, lay out the photos and really sort through them. Can you now determine if there was an event in 1977 that you can sort into its own envelope or into another existing envelope? How many photos have meaning? Pick the best and toss the rest.

You’ve got an envelope with photos from the 1980’s. Again, lay out the photos and really sort through them. By looking at the other envelopes for the years and events of the 1980’s, can you now sort these photos into more specific envelopes? Which photos are truly significant? Pick the best and toss the rest.

Now is the time to identify people, places, and things in the photos. If the subject matter is obvious, you don’t need to make notes, but if there’s something that other people might not understand about the photo – who this person is, the significance of the item, etc. – make a note on the back of the photo or on a post-it placed on the back.

If you have a slide projector, now is the time to set it up for its final performance. If you don’t have a projector, get a slide viewer or a convenient window and a magnifying glass. Go through the slides with the same eye for content as you have with the printed photos.

At the end of this step, you want to be looking at a major reduction in the number of photos, as well as a good grasp of the content and importance of the remaining photos.

Photo Organization Step 3: Scan the photos and organize the scans

The scanning is a big job and you can either do this yourself or hire someone to do it for you. We did it ourselves, so I can’t add much information about the process of hiring it out. In doing it ourselves, we made sure the envelope groupings stayed intact.

If you have albums or scrapbooks where photos are permanently attached, there is information written on the pages, or a specific layout are important to maintain, scan the whole book, page by page. Modern scrapbooks are on 12” x 12” paper, and those won’t fit on a typical home office scanner. In this case, a trip to a UPS or FedEx office store scanner might be in order. If you have photos in those sticky magnetic and photo damaging album pages, NOW is the time to get those photos out of there!

There are a lot of ways to scan slides. I haven’t had to do it, but here’s an article that describes some different methods.

The digital file organization structure and naming is important. File managers generally sort folders alphabetically, so you don’t want to name your folders with the month name first, e.g., March 2010, April 2010, May 2010. You’ll end up with months in alphabetical order (May 2010, May 2011, May 2012…) and that’s not helpful. Instead, name your folders 201003, 201004, 201005 and they’ll keep their chronological order.

For earlier decades, there may be very few photos. You may want to only have one folder per decade, unless you can identify specific events, like Grandma and Grandpa’s wedding in October 1932. In this case, I’d create a file structure that looked like this:photo organization file structure 1930s

When I was organizing my 1970’s photos, there were so few that I just created one folder per year. Starting in the late 1980’s I had enough photos and events to necessitate monthly folders. Now, with digital photography, I have sub-monthly folders. For example, in February 2012 there was a family trip to Kauai. For us, that trip had three parts – Kauai with the family, then we went to Oahu to see an aunt who lives in Honolulu, and then we went back to Kauai to see friends on the other end of the island. The file structure looks like this:photo organization file structure 2012

The idea here is to create a file structure to keep the photos organized and in manageable groups.  You don’t need to create a folder for every year and month since the dawn of time. However, a good file structure can provide some context to the images.

Photo Organization Step 4: Tag the photos

This is optional, but tagging is a great way to sort photos IF you keep the tags very simple. I’m not sure how it works on a Mac, but on Windows File Manager, there is a data field for every photo called “Tags.” In this field, I put simplified names of people, places, and things.

As my Mom and Dad come from big families, there’s no way I can tag every dang person. My Mom, Dad, Grandmothers, and Grandfather have their own tags, but otherwise I use the first name (a lot of them have the same last name) of the relevant aunt or uncle for themselves and for their descendants.

I tag photos of friends with their last name. I tag photos of pets with their names. I tag locations with “Italy” “Hawaii” or “home.” For photos of my craft projects I use “craft.” I also tag the month and year, and when applicable, the holiday.photo organization tag field

I can then do a search in File Manager for a tag or tags. When I search for “Hawaii” it shows all my photos of Hawaii, regardless of the year I had taken the trip or their file location – because who wants to search through every dang folder?

This can be incredibly useful – when an uncle of mine passed away, his family put out a call for photos to include in a slideshow. It took me about three seconds to see every photo I had of him. From there it was easy to select the photos that I sent to the family.

Photo Organization Step 5: Back up the photos

Dropbox, Flickr, external hard drive, whatever. There’s lots of different things you can use here. Just make sure they’re in more than one place, one of which cannot be destroyed by fire or a natural disaster at your home.

Photo Organization Step 6: Keep the best and toss the rest, again.

Now that you have these photos scanned, do you really need to keep the originals?

I’ll give you a good example. I had a scrapbook of my first trip to Europe in January and February 1994. This was pre-digital photography. I had an inexpensive camera and it was cold and grey most of the time so most of my photos were dark and grainy. In the scrapbook, I mixed things like ticket stubs and museum postcards with the photos.

The photos and ephemera were not precious, but the memory of the trip was. So I scanned the pages of the scrapbook… and then I tossed them out.

The question is – how often will you look at these photos? Are they worth the space they take up? Are you more likely to look at them on screen or in print? Of course, there are going to be photos where you keep the originals – formal wedding photos, baby pictures, graduation shots, happy holidays, sentimental favorites. But do you need to keep ALL originals of the receptions, the birthday parties, and vacation trips? What is more important – holding on to the thing, or holding on to the memory of the thing? Keep the best and toss the rest.

Photo Organization Step 7: Organize the remaining photos

Decide how you want to store the remaining printed photos. Acid free albums and photo boxes, elaborate scrapbooks, frames, or just keeping them in envelopes in a Rubbermaid container all work. You may want to divide the photos amongst the family, or keep them together – it’s not as big a deal if everyone has digital access to every photo. That, and the sheer volume of the photos could be a small fraction of what it was originally.gypsy ways - what remains of my printed photos

The photo above shows the result of my organization effort – one small storage box plus a larger envelope for a few pieces that wouldn’t fit in the box. No more bulky albums for me!

Photo Organization Step 8: Include other items

My husband and I are in this phase now. Over the years, we’ve collected some stuff – a few Christmas photos from other families, ticket stubs, some choice greeting cards, kid art, just stuff we want to remember. We’re sorting, scanning, and adding these files to our digital photos. Then we’re keeping the very best and tossing the rest again… the result being a huge reduction in weight and volume in unnecessary stuff. It’s lovely!

Good luck with your photo organization! I think you’ll find that it’s very worth the effort.

Water Themed Crafts Part 6

Welcome to healthy water themed crafts part 6, the finale of this series! This series of posts are all about crafts that encourage us to drink more water and that help us appreciate clean rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Parts 123, 4, and 5 covered crafts ranging from crochet to polymer clay, woodworking to scrapbooking, chainmaille to knitting and much more. Today, in this sixth post, I’m covering water themes in jewelry, candlemaking, wool dyeing, origami, flower arranging, and more!
Water

[Water by mbasie via Flickr]

Water Themed Crafts in Jewelry

First up is this ingenious way to keep track of your water intake. Contributor shazbraz at pinchingyourpennies.com created these bracelets. Every time she drinks a serving of water, she moves one bracelet from her left arm to her right. It’s simple, pretty, and an effective reminder!

The Nines Beading Pattern - Beaded Multistrand Bracelet Tutorial #1500Simple Bead Patterns has a tutorial for this wavy bracelet available in their Etsy shop,

 

 

 

 

Beach waves and sand knotted in cord and beads macrameI featured this project in Part 5 of this series, in the section on macramé, but as it is just so pretty and it really is a piece of jewelry, I feel like sharing it again here. Sherry at KnotJustMacrame shares this project which beautifully expresses an ocean beach. From her post: “When I added beads, I kept them random, again mimicking the colors of deeper water with highlights up through the foamy green and into the sand.” Sherry offers some tips and tricks on her blog, and has tutorials for sale on her Etsy shop if you like her micro-macrame.

I like this easy tutorial from Jordan at Picklee on how to make this casual and attractive hemp and sea glass bracelet. You could put this together in matter of minutes!

 

 

 

 

knock off braceletAnother quick and easy nautical-themed bracelet tutorial comes from HenryHappened. For less than $6 and 5 minutes time, she created this bracelet that also converts into a necklace!

 

 

Beading Tutorial - Beaded Barely Wavy BraceletOn Etsy, the Splendere shop offers lots of tutorials, one being this simple but elegant “Barely Wavy” bracelet,

 

 

 

 

 

and the LittleRock Etsy shop offers a tutorial on how to silversmith these fun and funky Wave Bangles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

healthy water themed crafts part 6 - water bracelet inspirationSome creative inspiration can be found in this chunky aquamarine, turquoise, and silver bracelet entitled “Dream Big as the Ocean Blue” by Eni Oken,

 

 

 

and also inspiring is this unique and brilliant Beach Bracelet by TerahsClassicCreations. In the link, take a look at the bracelet when it’s unclasped and laying flat. Wow!

 

 

 

 

The WireWorkers Guild website has an interview with Louise Goodchild, who created this delicate and serene wire and beadwork pendant. She has other water-inspired pieces visible in the article as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Through the AlaskaJewelry website, artist Matt Bezak offers this unique and striking wave pendant with diamond accent.

 

 

 

 

The simple ocean-inspired bracelets and necklaces made from charms and beads are a great way to support the Crystal Cove State Park in California.

 

 

 

 

Ocean Mist BangleThe spiral peyote stitch has a natural wave-like form, and it can be used to make both bracelets and necklaces. This tutorial by Inspirational Beading is a great place to learn how to make this pattern.

 

 

 

On the PapernStitch blog, Jenny Hoople shares her tutorial on how to create this gorgeous Falling Water necklace. It beautifully combines pearls, semi-precious stones, and shell coins.

 

 

 

 

When Pearl at BeadingGem reviewed the book Irina’s Inspirations for Jewelry: From the Exotic to the Everyday, one of the projects she featured was this striking Shades of the Ocean necklace. It’s easy to see the progression of beach sand to deep water in this piece.

 

 

 

Instead of using real and often endangered coral, here’s a tutorial from Divya at JewelsofSayuri for a necklace and earrings using (non-endangered) epoxy clay,

 

 

 

 

 

 

and Albina at AroundBeads offers a tutorial to make these pretty and delicate beaded coral tassels that can be made into earrings or pendants.

 

 

 

 

Natalie from NorthShore Days has a guest post on HappyHourProjects on how to make these quick and lovely wire wrapped sea glass earrings. She says that once you get a little experience, you can make lots of these earrings in very little time!

 

 

Copper Wave Wire Wrapped Ring TutorialThrough their Etsy shop, CrossedWiresJewelry offers a tutorial on creating this intriguing copper wave wire ring.

 

 

 

Skylight Jewelers of Boston have several wave-shaped bands in their repertoire, including this gorgeous two color ring.

 

 

 

healthy water themed crafts part 6 - wave curl ringHetWestern offers this sterling silver ring that features a curl in the right break of the wave,

 

 

 

 

 

Titanium Wedding Ring by Exotica Jewelryand ExoticaJewelry has this striking Eastbourne ring with finely detailed waves and spray.

Water Themed Crafts in Candlemaking

ShamrockCandles has this DIY on how to make an oceanic candle with a sea shell plate. In addition, they have a host of other candle ideas and products with ocean themes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This candle was made with two layers, an inner core pillar candle about 1" smaller in diameter than an outer layer filled with shells and made with a higher melting temperature wax.EHow has this tutorial on creating these pretty shell-embedded candles that involves two layers of wax, the outer layer having a higher melting temperature.

Water Themed Crafts in Wool Dyeing

crock pot dyeingFirst up, I’ve found some interesting tutorials on using Kool-Aid to dye wool. The first method is from Leethal and uses a crock pot,

 

 

 

and the second method by Kerry at TalesofaNeedleandThread uses ice cubes and a sunny day. Both methods look like they could be a lot of fun, and they both produce gorgeous results!

Now, is it possible for those methods to produce anything as pretty as the following examples?

This variegated blue and green by RedRidingHoodYarns is just beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handspun Art Yarn - Blue Ocean 3.2 oz 174 yards Bulky WoolThis kinky and fun blue yarn by LenaBrownDesigns on Etsy already resembles ocean waves,

 

 

 

Handspun super bulky bubblewrap yarn - Beach Glassand this is the very aptly named “Beach Glass” yarn from GypseeArtSupplies also on Etsy. It’s so pretty!

 

 

 

Water Themed Crafts in Origami

healthy water themed crafts part 6 - wave origamiGilad Origami has a review of Peter Engel’s book Origami Odyssey. One of the patterns in the book appears to be this wave, folded by Gilad himself.

 

 

 

神奈川沖浪裏 - The Great Wave off KanagawaThe always brilliant blog AllThingsPaper featured this work by Andrea Russo, an Italian artist, titled “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”

Water Themed Crafts in Flower Arranging

The Dutchbaby website has a photo of this flower arrangement created to compliment a waterfall painting. The arrangement nicely captures the colors and shapes in the painting.

 

 

 

WeddingWire has this post of ocean-themed table centerpieces, most of which are simple and inexpensive while looking elegant.

Water Themed Crafts in Giftwrapping

Color Me Pretty:  Ocean BluesThe last photo in this post from Decor8 on ocean hues is this experiment in gift wrapping. It’s unique and so lovely!

Water Themed Crafts in Digital

Glass Bottle.pngMy last item for this post is from the world of Minecraft, and it’s how to make glass bottles which can then be used for holding water and then on for brewing potions. I wonder if beer is considered a potion?

 

 

 

That hopeful note finishes this healthy water themed crafts part 6, covering jewelry, candlemaking, wool dyeing, origami, flower arranging, giftwrapping, and a little diversion to Minecraft. Is there anything in these crafty categories that you would like to add to the comments?

Make sure you have checked out the previous posts of this series!