My photo organizing project.

A few weekends ago, I really made some progress on my photo organizing project. Which got me thinking… it’s been something on my to-do list for a very long time.

I suppose it started when my dad passed away at the start of 2018. He left me two giant boxes of things from his life… and although I was (and still am) so thankful to have received anything from him, I was terrified to open the boxes.

So, I shoved them into a corner in my closet and waited until I felt ready to open them. It took me an entire year, but when I opened them, I found all sorts of things to treasure, including many MANY photo albums.

I live in a small apartment with not much storage, and even though I feel like I do a good job of not collecting things… I know nothing is really organized. I just sort of put things where they’ll fit instead of in a logical place.

This line of thinking is how my dad’s photo albums ended up in three different (and random) places in my apartment. To be fair, all of my own photos were all over the place, too!

About a year ago, I started using an app to get photos from my phone printed and delivered to me so I can 1. delete them from my phone and 2. Put them into an album and/or a scrapbook one day.

All of this — my dad’s photos, my old photos and my new ones — created a decent problem that I needed to get under control.

Enter: Quarantine.

It’s taken me months of being in self-isolation to reach a point where I felt at all motivated to do any sort of home project. But, it was getting to the point where on the weekends, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Because I had no plan, I’d end up mindlessly scrolling on my phone and just feeling worthless come Sunday night.

So on a Friday afternoon, I started dragging out all of my boxes of photos and sorting them.

Sorting Your Photos & Mementos

I made piles on my bed and bedroom floor because a lot of my photos were not organized in any way. I also had things that weren’t photos, such as postcards or ticket stubs.

I sorted all of my photos either by the event (such as a vacation or a concert), or by people (all of my sorority-related photos went into a pile). I put ticket stubs in a pile, greeting cards in another, and post cards in another.

I noticed I had a LOT of duplicates! Some photos had 2, 3, or even 4 copies, and I tossed the extras. You’d be surprised how much space this takes up. I also gave myself permission to toss any photos that were just bad (blurry, finger in the way, etc.) or if it had people or places I didn’t remember.

Once I had everything sorted, I went through my current albums to see if there was anything in there that I could toss or condense. Many of my albums were only half-full, so I started putting my newly-sorted photos into those albums.

A photo album is likely going to take up the same amount of space on the shelf if it has photos in it or not, so fill it up!

Once the photos were put away, I moved on to the items that were not photos.

Organizing Mementos

I have a LOT of cards and ticket stubs. So, I designated storage containers for these items and then started sorting. Remember, my initial sort was just by type of item.

This time, I sorted the greeting cards by who they were from. I also tossed ones that didn’t have much significance. Once I whittled the piles down, I clipped them together or used rubber bands and Post-Its to label them and place them in their container.

I put ticket stubs in a box with playbills and event flyers.

I also had items that didn’t fit into any of these categories, such as Mardi Gras beads, wristbands from college bars, and lanyards from various events. I placed all of these types of items in their own container and used Ziplock bags to group like items together (and to protect them).

Once I got all of my boxes organized, I made labels for the front of them. Before, none of my containers were organized, so a label wouldn’t have even been possible. This way, I wouldn’t have to search to find something or put a new item or photo away.

Handling Old Photos and Mementos

One thing I had to keep in mind while organizing many of the photos my dad left me was general care for them. The oils from our fingers and acid from paper or certain tapes and glues can change the integrity of the photos over time.

Some of the photos in the boxes from my dad were 70 years old! So, before I even opened the boxes, I gathered latex gloves, Ziplock bags, acid-free glue, and plastic protectant sheets to help keep them safe.

A few of the older albums needed repair, so I glued what I could and moved photos if needed. Any loose photos were put into an album, and if it was too big (some of the school or professional photos), I placed it in a plastic sheet cover.

There were also newspaper clippings, certificates, and ticket stubs, and all of these items were placed in Ziplocks or sheets. I want all of it to be okay no matter what! Doing this certainly was a task, but now everything is condensed, organized and protected.

Once I was done sorting through my dad’s items, I was able to put all of his things in one place and I know what everything is, so I can go right to it when I want.

Preparing for a Scrapbook

The other part of this project is that I want to make a scrapbook!

I actually bought a scrapbook a year (or more) ago because it was 75% off and why not? I didn’t know what kind of photos I’d want to put in it, so it’s sort of generic, but I love it.

However, it’s been sitting in my hall closet, so…

Part of my goal in organizing my photos was also to figure out what I would put in the scrapbook. Aside from travel photos, I also have SO many things I’ve kept from trips: flight tickets, shopping bags, postcards, receipts, everything!

I sorted all of these items (because they were mindlessly shoved into a bag) by location and either clipped them together or put them in big Ziplock bags. I swear this is not sponsored by Ziplock! I don’t even use Ziplocks on a regular basis, but they are perfect for stuff like this.

Now, I have a box designated for scrapbook items and I made a list of places I want to put in it. So, when I shop for items, I know what kind of paper and stickers and fun stuff to get.

That’s my next step, once I do some other projects first. I am also considering ordering the scrapbook items online since I’m self-isolating… however, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Have you ever purchased scrapbook supplies online?

What kinds of projects are you getting into during this time? I know not everyone is still staying home, but I also know not a lot of people are going out… let me know what you’ve been up to!

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  1. notesbyj

    Great post! I have many mementos that I also need to organise. I don’t have enough photos printed off and really want to get some printed

    1. thebitterlemon

      Thank you! I had NO printed photos from…ever since we all got smartphones! I use the free prints app and order about 100 prints a month and delete them off my phone. It’s an affordable, easy way to get pictures and clear off my phone!

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