The Quickest (and Smartest) Way to Organize Old Photos

Did you unearth a lot of old pictures at home? Or do you have too many loose photos that you wish to organize over the weekend? 

Apart from remembering the good old happier days, old photos also remind us of the people and places that are dear to us. But enjoying these meaningful benefits means protecting your photos.

It means learning how to organize, store, or display them the proper way. But how exactly do you organize old pictures? What are the key factors to organize piles of photos more efficiently?

Continue reading below for a guide on the quickest and smartest way to organize old pictures.

1. Determine the “Why”

Organizing old photos does not involve a single act. It is a combination of steps that will help you cover all bases. Thus, before you arrange your old pictures, you must ask yourself why you want to undertake this task.

The key to organizing old photos efficiently depends heavily on your goal. Hence, ask yourself if your reason for organizing old pictures is to make more room. Or perhaps you want to archive them alongside your old family stories?

Preserving old photos not only helps the younger generation appreciate their elders. These old photos also offer some health benefits. In the case of the elderly, looking at old photos can help slow down memory loss in older people who have dementia. 

Sometimes, people organize and collate photos to create special photo albums. Thereafter, they give these albums as gifts to their relatives or close friends.

Some people also organize old photos for aesthetic purposes. Old photos — especially if they come from several decades back — bring a special kind of aura with them. 

The way the old paper looks, the black and white approach, and all the other elements provide a direct connection to the past. From there, you can see how far your lineage has come. In turn, you will have a better appreciation for the people and the events from decades ago.

2. Sort Them Out

After determining your main reason for organizing, you can start sorting the photos. This is perhaps the trickiest and most tedious part. In the same manner, it is your key to making the task manageable and quicker to accomplish. 

One of the techniques you can use in sorting old photos is the “divide and conquer” approach. Look for some empty bins or mailing envelopes where you can place the pictures for sorting. As to the actual sorting, you want to divide them into categories. 

Here, there are no rules. It is you who will create the categories that you want to apply to the pictures. A good tip to consider is sorting the photos chronologically. This is effective if ever you want to create a timeline of your family using old pictures.

For example, you can group the pictures by considering how the persons in the images look. If you have pictures wherein you were still a baby, they can be your starting point. From there, arrange the photos as you are growing up. 

But if you want to focus on people, then sort the pictures according to each person. Combine all pictures that feature only your family. Do the same thing for images that feature you and your friends. 

You may also categorize according to events. Group the ones that fall on the same occasion. Collate all the Christmas photos and put them together in one envelope. Do the same thing for pictures that showcase your birthday parties. 

3. Learn How to ‘Minimize’

The next step is to “minimize” the photos. Of course, this isn’t the same as minimizing the digital images that you have on your computer. Instead, this pertains to determining the importance of the old pictures.

For example, you discover old photos of people you cannot recognize. The people in the photos can be relatives or friends of your great grandparents. In this case, ask yourself if the picture is still worth keeping.

If you no longer have any relatives to share the photos with, you may consider discarding them. In the same way, if the photos no longer have any meaning for you or your family, you may also throw them away.

But before deciding on this matter, make an effort to determine the true meaning of the photos. Do you feel that your children will treasure the pictures when they grow up? When you look at the photos, do they bring any sort of happiness to you?

If the answer is “no,” then perhaps you can discard them. This will help you reduce clutter in your house.

4. To Display or Not to Display Old Photos

After streamlining the photos you want to keep, the next step is to decide if you want to display them or not. Here, you may decide to display some and keep the rest. Thus, for the photos you want to showcase, you need to find the appropriate storage solutions for them.

If you want to display a photo-worthy of becoming a focal point, find a frame that will mirror the photo’s relevance. A good option is a traditional wooden gallery frame with gold plating.

But if you have many photos that you wish to display with pride, consider investing in a glass cabinet. This will send a message that this collection of photos are special compared to the rest. 

But if you choose to display them using a glass cabinet, make sure to keep it away from direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays adversely affect the quality and coloration of photos. Considering the age of your old photos, exposure to sunlight brings nothing but bad news.

And if ever you have autographed photos from celebrities, there is also a proper way of storing and displaying them. Learn more here about the right way of storing autographed pictures.

5. Storage Solutions

But what about the rest of your photos that you do not want to display? The good news is you have several storage options to choose from. If you have hundreds of old photos to keep, investing in a photo box is a wise move. 

A photo box offers enough room to accommodate hundreds, if not thousands of photos in one place. A photo box features metal edges for extra reinforcement. Moreover, it comes with multiple compartments. 

This allows you to group your photos into different categories. Additionally, it comes with acid-free envelopes. These will help protect your old photos from lint and dust that lead to discoloration.

Alternatively, you can get some acrylic top loaders. The good thing with top loaders is that they can also keep your other valuable collections as long as they are flat.

This means you can keep your old photos alongside your banknote bills, postcards, and autographed card collections.

Furthermore, they let you display your photos without having to take them out of storage. Acrylic top leaders come with easel stands that allow you to display your photos without exposing them to harmful elements in the air. 

But if you want to ensure top-notch safety of your photos and other important files, consider investing in a quality safe. But don’t just get any safe; instead, go for a safe that comes with PVC-free plastic sleeves.

These sleeves come with binder holes that allow you to organize your photos in page format.

6. Don’t Forget to Back Up

The final step in organizing your old photos is to create a backup. Backing up your pictures is possible in the digital realm. If you have prints and negatives of old photos, don’t throw them away just yet.

Identify the special pictures that you do not want to lose. From there, find their prints or negatives and keep them in safe storage. 

Also, you want to preserve and label all your old photos. This can be taxing if you’re going to do it one by one. And you also do not want to write on the back of the pictures using a marker.

Not only will this create a mark that may pass through the image, but it can also damage the prints all together. Instead, place the labels on the archival photo sleeves. 

Alternatively, you can write directly on the paper album pages. Use keywords when writing your labels. 

Last but not least, you need to protect your old pictures from bugs, critters, and rodents. This is crucial especially now that the world is in the middle of a pandemic. Reports reveal that more rodents come out of hiding in search of food.

If you fail to store your pictures properly, they can munch on them in no time. And apart from keeping your photos away from sunlight, don’t expose them to moisture too. Moisture can lead to molds that will destroy your prized images.

Learn More About Photography

Organizing old photos is a practice that every family should learn. You can also pass the knowledge to your kids and preserve the memories for the next generation. But preserving photos is only one of the lessons to learn about photography.

We invite you to increase your knowledge about photography through our other articles. Check out our other topics and learn more about the different aspects of photography.

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