Do you have a no-nonsense way of deciding which photos to keep (and which to toss)? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 09-23-2010, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How do you organize and manage your photos? I really would like to distill this pile down to a small enough number that it is not overwhelming and so it won't take hours just to wade through them. But I want to save enough...those cute facial expressions, those moments that make us smile, etc. We don't need to relive every single family gathering, but we do want to save a key number of memories and reminders of things that make us smile.

I have never managed to get my photos in albums, though they are organized by date/event. For the past two years, I have taken digital photos that I have not gotten around to printing (but would like prints of at least some.)

My struggle is with figuring out a good set of "rules" for which photos to keep and which to toss. I do NOT want to keep all of my photos. But I don't want to regret tossing any, either. (LOL). I have albums with acid-free sleeve pages, I have photo-safe pens for writing, I have good intentions... But I get stuck at trying to figure out how best to weed the collection, I get overwhelmed, and then I quit before I start.

I have four kids, and have photos of them all in varying stages of development. I have birthday photos with family, birthday party photos with friends, vacation photos, special family gathering photos, photos with key members of our extended family, photos of the kids with friends who were significant when they were tiny, photos of playgroups, photos of Halloween, photos of Christmas, photos of them with newly-lost teeth, photos with them holding prized art (moments before we decluttered it), photos of them in various combinations looking heartbreakingly cute, photos of them in dress-up clothes, photos of them in the tub, photos of them climbing in and out of drawers and boxes and baskets, photos of them in or at weddings, photos of old friends whom we are still in touch with, photos of them in snowsuits, photos of haircuts, photos of breastfeeding, photos of slings, and even a couple of photos of the cats.

And we don't even do school, or we would have first-day-of school photos, class play photos, graduation photos, etc.

To be honest, my kids have never gotten to look at most of these because they're not in albums. I keep wanting to find time to put them in albums but I am overwhelmed by the volume and cannot imagine how many hours it would take. A good "weeding system" would cut the volume down to manageable size. I have to do this soon, or else I will end up like my mother and grandmother, with boxes and boxes of unlabeled mixed-up photos in the attic, where nobody can remember who is who or when it happened or even what it was.

If I can come up with a good set of solid criteria to stick to for which photos to keep, I think I will stop feeling blocked from ordering prints of my digital photos. Frankly I'm afraid of adding to the already-overwhelming pile of prints, so I just haven't printed any photos in something like three years. I don't have time to waste on this project, but getting our photos into albums where we can see them is long overdue.

If you have a good no-nonsense approach to this, or can think of some way for me to dig myself out of this photo mess, I would love to hear your ideas.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#2 of 9 Old 09-23-2010, 10:41 AM
 
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I have my best photos in scrapbooks (but you could just as easily do this with photo albums). Generally that means the clearest, most representing of an event or time or just those I really liked. The rest of the printed photos I put into photo boxes in order of date. Admittedly I could probably toss those boxes now but sometimes it is nice to have a print to just pull out to use for some random project or give to someone or....

As for digital photos - I only print those I wish to put in my scrapbook or to frame for the wall.

Generally I keep 4-6 photos for an event/time which equals one scrapbook page unless it is a long thing (week long vacation) in which case I might keep many.

For labelling I make sure to always write the date, place & people's names so at least the minimum facts are remembered.

As for actual rules I've never thought of it that way but I'd probably start with something like:
-clear
-close ups of faces
-shows the date/time (bad deco/cars/etc.)
-group shots
-those that make me smile

Surviving sleep deprivation one day at a time with dd (Oct '11) & ds (Oct '08).

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#3 of 9 Old 09-23-2010, 11:40 AM
 
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I was just thinking about this yesterday because I found a paper grocery bag filled with photos. Sigh.

In my case, all printed photos that I have are at least - probably 6+ years old. So I do have the advantage of time perspective. I'm sure the method of culling photos is different when the photos are fresh.

But I flipped through them and I found I could easily differentiate between thinking "yeah, yeah, yeah, uh-huh, yup - Oh!" The occasional photo would show someone in a nice way, or really represent a gathering well. So I'm going with that gut instinct, where anything ho-hum gets chucked (and it it's ho-hum 10 years later, it's going to be ho-hum 25 years later, I imagine) and anything nice gets a "keep."

I guess you could do a twist on the usual declutter process - 3 piles: keep, toss, and maybe.

The keeps go into a photo album.

The maybes go in a shoe box or something and get put away. You can stumble across them later (a year, 5 years, whatever) and review again, and you'll probably find you can toss most of them (but a few might make the cut).

I guess a lot depends on how sentimental you are. I'm not, so I don't have a big need to keep a bunch of pictures of my bridal shower just to remember who was there. I don't need a photo of my squinting, mouth-opened uncle at my wedding just because it's the only photo of him there. Just the good ones, they are obvious.

Unfortunately, I found that you can't recycle photographs as paper. If you are hard core into reusing, you can give them to kids for craft type projects. Some backgrounds are nice (tree behind your squinting self can be cut out), some just have interesting patterns (out of focus pics that you can't even see what they are), some can be used for amusement (sticking your half-lidded, mouth-open uncle's head on your sister's bathing-suited body). The other use I can think of is for scratch paper - writing notes to yourself on the back, jotting down phone messages, whatever. Otherwise, it's just trash. I am personally undecided about what I will do with the photos - I'm not sure I'm committed enough to keep a huge stack for scratch paper since they are really thick. Maybe I'll have a 4th pile, ones that look good for craft uses for one reason or another, then the rest gets chucked.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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#4 of 9 Old 09-26-2010, 05:55 AM
 
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I tend to separate into 3 piles:
one is scrap booked, these are the ones I would show to guests/acquaintances/random people who ask to see them. These are the BEST of the photos I have, everyone is basically looking at the camera or at least not looking shocked, no one is doing anything embarrassing or would get upset if I showed them to someone else. I usually ask myself "If I was a stranger looking at this what would I see?" A picture that would be funny to me, my family, my children might be inappropriate to the random acquaintances that sometimes look at scrapbooks in my house.
Second one is either a photo album or photo box that are for me and my family. Here are the photos that we like but might not be appropriate for display (like the first one of DD1 and me where my chest was hanging out), might not be appreciated by others (like the picture of my girls nakkie with my bra on their head) or might not be considered amusing to the general public (like the picture of my grandpa in law pulling down my BIL's pants). Sometimes its pictures that are just so special I don't want to share them outside of our family (like the pictures of my MIL and me on my wedding day).
Third pile is my trash pile. Here are any pictures that are poorly taken or developed, any that the person in the picture asked that they not be printed (like the one of my SIL in a bathing suit, shes very self conscious- I feel strongly that if someone asks that something isn't printed/shown it shouldn't be out of respect to that person), any picture that has something improper about it (like somebody scratching something they shouldn't be in a picture if you get my drift), pictures that should never have been taken in the first place (like my BIL snapping a picture of the girls in the bedroom talking not realizing one of his sisters didn't have a shirt on). For the most part if I don't see faces or don't recognize the faces it goes, if its pictures of peoples backs it goes, if it just doesn't wow me or if I have multiple shots of the same thing it goes. I avoid doing nakkie shots of even babies, diaper shots are one thing but nakkie shots I know will embarrass thing I avoid.
Also I tend to get rid of any pictures that have:
exes in them, family exes in them, to many people in the background so it makes it hard to tell who is suppose to be there and who isn't, a picture with a ton of people I don't know the name of. Of course if its an important thing Ill keep the picture but like I don't have pictures of any of my exes anymore, none of them were important enough for me to keep.

I actually have 4 piles I guess. I do some artsy type shots at times that I keep in a different pile. These aren't really important to family but they are pretty and I usually can find a use for them (artwork, book marks, matting for pictures etc)

~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#5 of 9 Old 09-28-2010, 07:22 PM
 
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For my ILs 50th wedding anniversary, my DMIL made scrapbooks for each of her 9 children plus her 7 siblings. 9 children, 50 years of photos, this was a project she started 18 mos beforehand, as was needed.

She started with 15 smaller bins on a large table. Each labeled with her name, DFIL, and then each of her children in birth order. Then "other" bins to sort as well. She then got all 50 years of media rounded up. This includes home movies, etc. She had a BIL get those redone to show at the anniversary party. All photos etc. She then proceeded to sort all photos and in the first sorting, even threw out some photos of unidentified people or just needed to be tossed for whatever reason, like bad photo, blurred etc.

For the older photos before children, I scanned those. For special group shot, we had scanned those as well. She then had those printed for each of her siblings' scrap books. BIL scanned several pictures as well and had the home movies changed over. He is in film/editing and created a 2 hour show we had shown at their anniversary party of the movies and pictures of each of her children, their weddings, grandchildren (born at the time) it was amazing.

She presented each of her children with a scrap book containing all the "old" family tree type pictures, family pictures, wedding pictures etc and then the back of the book was each siblings childhood pictures.


But, after she did the original sort, she used the different bins to make the layout for each individual sibling and then tossed the bad pics etc. The final products were amazing and worth all the effort.

I recommend sorting photos by child or event and then dating the pictures.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#6 of 9 Old 09-28-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeguard View Post
I have my best photos in scrapbooks (but you could just as easily do this with photo albums). Generally that means the clearest, most representing of an event or time or just those I really liked. The rest of the printed photos I put into photo boxes in order of date. Admittedly I could probably toss those boxes now but sometimes it is nice to have a print to just pull out to use for some random project or give to someone or....

As for digital photos - I only print those I wish to put in my scrapbook or to frame for the wall.
This is what I do, too. My photo albums tend to center around activities - trips we went on, seasonal celebrations, milestones like the school play or first day of school, Rosh Hashanah (one of the few times of the year I get my boys dressed up really nicely). I don't tend to put in random photos - unless they are extraordinarily cute. Almost everything revolves around some event or season.

I print out all the photos I think I'll use, but don't end up using all of them. I agree that it's nice to have those extras on hand to give away or for projects.
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#7 of 9 Old 10-02-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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One thing that I have found helped me with the dilemma of printing too many photos is to make some things into collages using my photo editing software (I use Picasa but I'm sure that most of them have this function). This way I can take 2 or 3 or more photos that focus on the same event and print them all on the same 5 x 7 instead of having 2, 3 or more 5 x 7s. Picasa has a few different ways to create a collage - you can have the photos scattered randomly, all the same size but in blocks of 2,3,4 etc, with one main photo and the rest around the edges etc.
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#8 of 9 Old 10-02-2010, 12:46 AM
 
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One thing that I have found helped me with the dilemma of printing too many photos is to make some things into collages using my photo editing software (I use Picasa but I'm sure that most of them have this function). This way I can take 2 or 3 or more photos that focus on the same event and print them all on the same 5 x 7 instead of having 2, 3 or more 5 x 7s. Picasa has a few different ways to create a collage - you can have the photos scattered randomly, all the same size but in blocks of 2,3,4 etc, with one main photo and the rest around the edges etc.
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#9 of 9 Old 10-02-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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About 5 years ago, Dh asked me for a year-in-review photo album. It was, by far, the best idea he's ever had! it's become a tradition, and every year I add a new album to the collection. I found it so overwhelming to try to do "baby books" etc for each kid; so now doing the one-album-per-year works for me - it's a snapshot of the year, and each kids' stage. i do all digital pics; when I upload (I use adobe photoshop elements, which has a photo organizer built-in which ROCKS) I tag the pics immediately (with the name, event if it was somethign special, or "snapshot" if it was just a regular day where I took some pics, and then "year in review" if I already know it's for sure a pic I want to print) In october, I'll go through the tags; and send the "year in review" one right away for printing (usually at cvs when they've got cheap print sale) and then I'll go through each name's tag to pull out the rest I want. No real "method to the madness" of what I pick out, just the ones that make me smile, or immeidately recall a good memory, or seem to capture the stage of that particular kid.
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