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Help You Dwell is a home and workspace organizing service based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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organizing how to: printed photographs

Caroline Smith

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Unless you are exceptionally organized, chances are, you have boxes of photos somewhere in your home just waiting to be sorted and put into albums. Printed photos are one of the most commonly unorganized items in a home. You probably had every intention of getting to it before it all piled up over the years but life happened and now it's overwhelming. During the harsh heat and dog days of summer, this is the perfect project to work on inside!

Here is our guide to getting your photographs sorted, purged, and ready for albums!

1. Goals: Establish your desire for the photos.  Do you prefer a bound book like snapfish where you upload your pictures to be made into a book or do you like the old school hard copy photo albums? Would you prefer chronological albums or themed albums? Will your photo albums be somewhere that is easily accessible and often looked through? Would you like to frame pictures in your home? Once you have established your goal for your pictures you will have a more clear path forward.

2. Sorting: If you have boxes of undated pictures that seem to be in no particular order, it can be a daunting task to sort. We suggest beginning by writing down a timeline of life events. Births, marriages, graduations, family trips, special birthday parties, deaths, etc. This will help you date pictures along the way. Once you have a timeline to refer back to, grab some index cards and make an index card for each year that you have pictures from. (If you have old historical pictures of family from before you were born, we recommend setting those aside and making that a separate project. Lay out your index cards and start sorting. As you go, if you come across blurry, poorly cropped, or duplicate pictures, discard them along the way. The bulk of your time will be spent in this stage so give yourself time and space but set a deadline for yourself. Commit to sorting for 30 minutes a day for 2 weeks and see how far you get! You could even listen to a podcast or a book on audible while you sort. If you don't have the space to lay pictures out all over the floor, try an extra large accordion file instead.

*If your goal is themed albums rather than chronological, you can create index cards with event names rather than years.

3. Purging: Once you've sorted your pictures by year, go through each year and sort by event-- this will help you find more duplicates to eliminate. Take the time to think about the kinds of pictures you would enjoy having in an album. You probably don't need 12 pictures of Jim Bob's birthday cake from every possible angle. Pick out the best pictures and scrap the rest. We know it can feel hard to get rid of pictures but if we are being honest, unless pictures are displayed or put into albums they are rarely enjoyed and end up just taking up space.

4. Compiling: If you've opted for traditional photo albums, purchase a few and start from the beginning. If you are going in order or by event, it's easier for you or someone else to help you or for someone else to pick up where you left off if you don't end up finishing your project in a timely fashion.

5. Do the happy dance--- because you no longer have boxes of pictures taking up space in your closets--in fact, you now have beautiful records of you and your family that are easy to peruse whenever you'd like!

As always, if you'd like us to do the work for you-- we'd be glad to!

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