When I was decluttering my books, I realized that half of my tall bookcase was filled with photo albums and unsorted boxes of photos that have been ignored for years. I decided to make that my next project: decluttering photos and only keeping the photos and albums that give me joy.
The lower half of the bookcase is all photos and assorted magazines and paper clutter:
I pulled out all the photos and albums and this is the tall tower of memories that I will be sorting:
These days if I want to capture a moment with a photo I’ll use my iPhone. The photo is captured by date in my phone and I can scroll through the photos deleting the ones that did not come out to my liking. I have even recently started uploading them on our back up drive so that I will have enough space on my phone to capture the aforementioned moment worth photographing!
Back in the Day
For those of us old enough to remember days without cell phones, photos used to take time to process. Things are very different now. Like so many things today, there is no wait time in photography – we take a photo, save or delete, and can immediately share it with our friends and family if we choose to. Not only can it keep us connected to faraway friends and family, but it is also cheaper and can cut down on physical clutter.
A lot of my photos are from my years growing up with a point and shoot automatic camera that I would load film into, take the film canisters into a store (or mail them) to get developed, and hope that some of the shots turned out decent. I usually got double prints so that I could give a copy to friends. I was not a serious photographer. I was merely trying to capture events, friendships, and different seasons of my life growing up.
I already know that I want to take the photos out of the big bulky photo albums and trash the photo albums. They are all at least 20 years old. My plan is to go through them a few times.
- Trash the duplicates and fuzzy pictures.
- Pile them by events/years/categories
- Go through the piles and choose the best photos that capture that event/year/category.
- Send them to a service to digitize them (along with some VHS tapes)
Have you decluttered your photos? Any helpful hints or suggestions on how to tackle this?
Can’t speak long to this at the moment, but I set my intention, way back at 220 W Tabor Rd before moving was even a firm idea, to scan and store our archival family photographs into a mini drive which I have already purchased, sitting atop my computer stand in readiness. Liz has graciously volunteered to get me going on that. The huge stumbling block, going back a few topics, is DECLUTTERING MY TIME, or to put it into the positive mode, learning time management, not as an interesting or even important idea, but as a pivotal change-point for managing my whole life. I can quote “Don’t let the Urgent keep you from doing the Important” forever, but it’s going to remain a sort of depressing joke if I don’t actually enact it. Grace, grace, grace! Lord, give me grace to walk in the path clearly laid out.
Thanks for sharing Peg. Schedules are definitely a category to “declutter”
It’s interesting though how we now need to be mindful of even digital clutter! I mean, it’s obviously really different than physical clutter but I definitely know people who can’t find things digitally because there’s little to no culling and no functional organizational system. One of my project this past summer was to declutter my digital photos, getting rid of duplicates and bad pics and organizing the remaining ones in a centralized location. Now that I have it set up, it’s so easy to upload photos to the appropriate storage place! Before I had hundreds of photos and videos on my phone… ugh. Had my phone been stolen they would be gone forever!
I agree – that will be another project!
Julie @ HappinessSavouredHot says
This is so timely for me! I have decluttered my house fiercely, but the bookshelves are what I am still struggling with. And I am also looking for a way to keep photos. I will follow this!
Thanks for dropping by Julie! I’ll be posting the after soon.
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
Congratulations with your progress on decluttering!! My husband and I are moving this month and it’s amazing to see how much stuff we’ve already accumulated. Thanks for the tips! xo
Thanks for commenting Daisy! We have no move ahead of us – but I wish we did!
Thank you for writing this. I really feel the need to get rid of family photos and only hold on to the good quality photos. I don’t want my future generations to have to sift through piles of meaningless blurred, poor quality photos after I’m gone! Having said that, I have a lot of guilt throwing out baby pictures but so many are of low quality/duplicates, etc. I agree that we also have to be mindful of digital clutter, so during meaningful events I really try to be present in the moment rather than spending it behind a camera/phone. I think of my grandparents who only took the occasional photo, but those photos, while few in number, are such a treasure now. Quality over quantity!
Lizzy, I love you’re intention to be present at the events versus being preoccupied with capturing it digitally. I too agree that the occasional photos from the past are truly the precious ones. Thanks for sharing and commenting. I truly appreciate it!
Before we moved I scanned a ton of photos and recipes (handwritten and from clippings) to the cloud. The photos I distributed to the rest of my family. The recipes went to recycling. After getting rid of my books, it was probably one of the most liberating things I’ve done.
It really is freeing to let these things go isn’t it Lydia? Moving seems to be so helpful in ramping up the decluttering process!
Great topic! My husband and I are five years from retirement, when we plan to sell the house and move to a much smaller one in a warmer climate. We started the downsizing this year, with a huge decluttering project follwed by a garage sale. Once that was done, I looked for smaller and less obvious projects.
To tackle our large collection of photos, consisting of equal parts bad snapshots and historical family photos (I’m the family genealogist), I scanned nearly all of them. I tossed out the occasional bad shot. I didn’t need special software, just the Microsoft Fax and Scan program that came with my printer. Put the picture on the flatbed scanner, click on Preview, adjust the dotted line around the photo to crop out the white space around it, and click scan. When it was scanned, immediately rename the file to match my naming convention, and when a handful were scanned, move them into the folder that will be their home.
It helps to decide on folders and file naming conventions ahead of time. Big vacations with lots of photos got their own folders. Theire’s one for old homes and cars (we used to move a lot), one for his family, one for mine, etc. Photos were named like this: Person Name _ Occasion_Date.
I made sure to back up regularly, and once it was all done, I uploaded them to Dropbox and then provided interested relatives with access to the Dropbox files. So now my mom has access once again to all her old family photos that she and Dad gave me when they retired.
Now that that is done, I’m working on doing similar things with all my genealogy files.
Darlene thank you so much for the detailed process. I still haven’t scanned the pile (or sent them away to be scanned) so this is so useful! You are so organized!
I should mention that I tossed most of the physical photos when I was done, keeping just historical family photos, really sentimental ones, and the ones I deemed suitable for framing. I went from five photo albums and lots of loose photos to one album.
Just wish I could give myself permission to toss some of my mom and dad’s bad snapshots taken at their wedding. For some reason, tossing them is harder than other choices.