Top

Tag Archives | organizing

How To Store & Organize Your Photo Prints

Welcome back to Scrapbook Update’s Photo Organizing Series! Today, we’re going to show you how to take a simple and orderly approach to organizing and preserving your photos.

How To Organize Your Photos

[Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program. Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to the reader when a purchase is made after a click.]

Let’s get started!

Step #1: Gather All Of Your Photos

The first step is pretty straightforward. To organize your photos, you need to locate all of them and gather them all together in one place.

5 Reason to Organize Your Photos

Think you have done a pretty good job at this task already? Take a hard look around your house to be sure. As a long-time photography enthusiast and scrapbooker, I was pretty proud of how organized my photos were in about 20 cardboard photo boxes. And then I started digging them out of the closet to do this reorganization…and what I discovered shocked me. I found something like four boxes of photos (some of which you can see above) that were a complete jumble! I found a stash of enlargements and digital photo prints that I had forgotten I had. I also found some photos stashed in a box with unfinished scrapbook projects. Dig deep to find all those wayward memories!

At this point, just gather them into whatever containers are handy…shoeboxes, extra plastic boxes you have laying around. Later you can find your photos a permanent home.

Step #2: Sort Your Photos Chronologically

Next up, start sorting your photos chronologically. If you have a lot of photos that aren’t in any sort of order, you might want to start by sorting them into large categories (by decade, or by places lived, or periods of your life) and then start organizing within those segments into years, and then months.

Organizing Photos

To make it easier to locate your photos in the chronological file, I recommend using 4×6 card dividers. I have some marked by month and also use blank ones to mark events for which I have a lot of photos (like vacations). Use whatever divisions work for you!

If, like most of us, you haven’t been entirely diligent about labeling your photos in some way with dates, you might have a lot of them that you don’t know for sure when they were taken. I suggest setting those aside until you are done putting all of the ones that you can identify for sure. Then, you can begin to identify the unknown photos using your already identified photos for help.

Here’s a few other tips for ways to help identify at least the year a photo was taken:

  • Coupons: If your photo is still in the processing envelope, look for coupons or offers on it that have an expiration date.
  • Clothing: Match a distinctive clothing item to other photos to determine the period that it was taken.
  • Children: The age of children, especially young ones, can be a big hint to when a photo was taken. (The presence of a spouse or loved ones who are now deceased in a photo can also help date it.)
  • Home: The setting of a photo can provide a time period limited to when your or your loved one lived in that location.
  • Decor: Look closely at the backgrounds of photos. A paint color, piece of furniture, or even a holiday gift that you remember being from a certain year can date a photo. (Cars can help too!)
  • Windows: If there’s a window in the background, peek outside. What season is it?

Figuring out a date for photos without them is like a big detective game. Take your time and hunt down the clues! Not every mystery can be solved, but you might be surprised how many you can figure out!

Step #3: Purge Your Photos

Now that you have all of your photos in one place and organized, you should have all your photos taken at the same time and place together. The next step is the hardest…it’s time to purge!

You’re probably thinking, “wait, did she just suggest I throw away photos?” Why yes, yes, I did! Now, take a few deep breaths and hear me out. I’m an absolute photo hoarder, and if I can do it…you can!

Start going through your photos, starting with the oldest. Ask yourself if you really need three copies of that terrible family picture from Christmas where 2 of the kids had their eyes closed? Or the three blurry pictures before you got the exposure right of the tree in the dark? Throw them out, keep the good ones, and move on to the next batch! Be brutal. Be honest with the answer when you ask yourself if you will ever have a need or desire to see that picture again.

Step #4: Label Your Photos

Once you’ve decided what photos you are going to keep, it’s time to do some of the most tedious work. In case your photos get separated from their nicely organized files, each individual photo should be marked with a date and other important info that may not be obvious from the photo. (Names would be nice for future generations, too!) This sounds like a big task if you have a lot of photos, but you’ll probably be surprised how quickly it goes.

To write on my photos without damaging them, I use an archival safe Sakura Identi-Pen. The fine point end is perfect for marking on the backs of photos. I’ve used them for years and love them!

Step #5: Organize Your Photos In Containers

Now that you know how many photos you need to store, you can decide how to store them! For years, I stored my photos in about two dozen paperboard photo storage boxes on a shelf in my studio. These boxes are easily and affordably available at local craft chain stores.

But a big reason I started this photo organizing project was that I wanted to get my photos stored in something more sturdy, more protective, and easier to move. As I mentioned in the previous installment on organizing negatives, the recent spate of hurricane disasters here in Florida has me thinking about being able to better protect items that are precious to me. I decided I wanted something easier to move if we decide to evacuate, and that offers at least some protection against water infiltration in the house (especially a leaky roof).

Artbin Super Satchel Double Deep

I settled on using Artbin Super Satchel Double Deep containers. These plastic boxes hold two rows of photos, and have a lid that latches shut. They come in a variety of colors, and retail for between $25-$30 each on Amazon, depending on the color.

Storage Cubes for photo boxes

I store my Super Satchels in cubes in my craft studio. The photo boxes are arranged in chronological order from bottom to top. The cubes I’m using are really old, discontinued ones from Cropper Hopper but Artbin actually makes storage cubes that you can do the same thing with.

Step #6: Storing Large Photos

All of the steps above are great for your 4×6 photos. But most of us have other – bigger – photos lying around too. I found a huge stash of 5×7 photos while I was organizing. Some were enlargements I’d had made to scrapbook. Others were Disney Photo Pass prints, or prints from family weddings or other special events.

I also had a bunch of photos that were too small to put safely in my 4×6 photo file, mostly 3×4 prints I had made for scrapbooking. I needed some way to organize all of these photos!

Organizing Photos

Because I like to put things in bins and folders, I decided to put each event in its own envelope. (I used these peel & seal envelopes because they won’t get sticky in the Florida humidity like a lickable envelope.) Then I filed them chronologically in two Linus Pullz Medium Bins (I use those bins for everything in my studio!) and the bins live on the end of my craft table for easy access while I’m scrapbooking.

Photo Storage Boxes

And finally – did you notice those thin boxes stacked on top of each of my cubes of photo boxes?Those are Artbin Super Satchel Slim boxes, and they are the perfect size for holding portraits up to 11×14. This means they can hold all of those precious large sized portraits, like school pictures, that we all have laying around!

Now that we’ve taken care of our old print photos, next up is organizing our digital photos! Check back tomorrow for the next installment in the Scrapbook Update Photo Organizing Series! (And if you haven’t yet, check out 5 Reasons To Organize Your Photos and Organizing Your Negatives.

5

Organizing Your Negatives

Let’s admit it…even a lot of us who are obsessive about organizing our photos can be neglectful about organizing our negatives! And yet, organizing your negatives is a surprisingly simple process that can help protect your negatives and make them easier to use for generations to come. 

[Disclosure: I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program. Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links that pay this site a commission at no cost to the reader when a purchase is made after a click.]

Organizing Your Negatives

Step #1: Using Negative Storage Sheets

Negatives are pretty delicate items. They don’t like to be handled, or pressed against each other, or extreme environmental conditions. Stacked together, floating around loose in that envelope they came home from the processor in? Well, that’s pretty much the worst thing we can do to them! The safest – and easiest – way to take on organizing negatives is to do it the way the pros do and use negative storage pages.

Negative storage pages are sized and punched to be stored in binders. Using them is super simple – just slide your negative strips into the pockets from the long edges of the sheet, and you’re done!

Organizing Negatives

Print File is the most well-known maker of photography storage sheets of all types. I have used Print File 35-7B sheets for years for storing my 35mm film negatives. Each of those sheets holds 7 strips of negatives that are 4-5 frames long. The sheets are made of archival quality polyethelene, which is safe for storing negatives. 

Do you have some of those APS film cartridges, where the film rolls back up into the cartridge after being processed, lying around? I had a couple. I was surprised doing some internet research to learn it is very easy to wind the film out of the cartridges so it can be cut up and put in negative sheets just like regular 35mm film. (Click here for the instructions on how to do it.) Instead of having to store bulky cartridges, now my APS negatives are filed in sheets with the rest of my rolls of 35mm negatives!

Organizing Slides

But storage sheets aren’t just for negatives! They are also an efficient way to store slides that allows easy access to look at them to find what you want. Why devote tons of storage space to storing boxes of huge carousels you never use? Ditch the carousels, and replace them with slide storage pages that are much easier to store.

Stabilo PencilsOf course, the whole point of organizing negatives is to be able to find things. So it’s important to label your negative storage sheets. You can’t just write on a polyethelene sheet with a regular pen, though. I use a Stabilo pencil, which is sort of a grease pencil and writes well on the sheets. (These are really soft, so I recommend using a make-up pencil sharpener to sharpen them.)

Organizing Photo Index Prints

If you have index prints, they can also be very helpful in knowing what is on your negatives! Don’t get rid of them! I have written on the back of mine the relevant dates, locations and other information for the roll of film using a Sakura Identi-Pen. Then I have inserted them in photo storage pages and filed the sheet of index prints in my negatives files, in front of the relevant sheets of negatives.

Step #2: Create Order

This step is super simple! Most rolls of film will have had multiple events or topics on them. (Oh, if someone could have told us in the days when film was so precious that we only took 24 pictures on a week long vacation that someday we’d be snapping pictures in the grocery store…we’d have thought they were crazy!) This means that the only really manageable way to file negatives is by date. So sort all of those sheets into chronological order, if they aren’t already.

Step #3: Storing Negative Storage Sheets

Once you’ve got all those negative sheets loaded and sorted, what do you do with them? There’s lots of ways to store them, depending on how many you have and what your storage concerns are. Mine lived in regular 3 ring binders for a long time, stored in a file drawer. There’s also binder boxes made especially for storing archival photo sheets.

File Cabinet Storage for Negatives

For the last decade or so, one of these file cabinets has been home to my negative sheets. I had them in hanging files, and they took up about one and a half drawers of the cabinet.

Hanging Negative Files

Hanging in the file drawers was quite an efficient way to store them. The negative sheets are firm enough to stand up and not put pressure on the edges of the negatives. Being in the drawers also kept my negatives protected from the light, since light exposure can lead to fading.

But I decided that I wanted to move my negatives for several reasons. First, the file cabinets are getting old and frankly I’d like to put something that looks nicer in what is a very prominent wall in my living/dining area. But second, and more important, is that file cabinet storage is not portable or protected very much from water. Since the hurricane disasters that have hit us here in Florida the past few years, I’ve realized the importance of having precious items in my home be both easily portable and protected from the elements.

Sterilite File Box

If you are also worried about these issues in organizing your negatives, the good news is that I’ve found what I think is the perfect solution: a Sterilite Hanging File Box. Stored in two of these boxes, my negatives are now easily portable. And the plastic container, while not impenetrable, will offer some protection for them against water infiltration. 

Negatives in File Boxes

The sheets of my negatives hang in the file boxes just the same way that they previously hung in my file cabinet. I simply transferred them from one container to the other.

File Boxes

My two boxes of negatives now live on a top shelf in my craft studio. If needed, I can easily move them to a more secure area of the house for protection during a storm, or put them inside yet another container to offer double protection. Or, I can even put them in the car to take along during an evacuation. It gives me great peace of mind to know that!

Now that our negatives are under control, next it will be time to tackle all of those photos! I’m ready if you are! Stay tuned!

2

See My Craft Room Makeover Reveal!

Organizing seems to be a constant process in my studio, as I adjust to inflows of new products and activities. But about 18 months ago, I began a major overhaul of my studio space that reimagined how I use the entire space. Now, it is finally done and I’m ready to share a craft room makeover reveal for readers here and on Craft Critique!

Nancy Nally craft room makeover

Since the last overhaul of my scrapbook & craft room a couple of major changes had taken place in my needs. I started sewing more, and I wanted a more robust second work area. I also started doing more wood and painting crafts. I’m also much more heavily involved in Project Life and in stamping than I was previously. I am also using more media such as spray inks, and pens.

Just as important, I discovered my previous arrangement had some serious pain points that needed solving. Items were stashed all over the place and I found it hard to remember where things were often. Also, some frequently used items were difficult to get to. And finally, my studio was just busting at the seams, creating messes when new things arrived and there was literally no place to put them!

This meant I needed to change the types of storage I was using and the way my storage was arranged. I started from scratch, and nearly every single piece of furniture in my studio moved from the old set-up. I created different areas for different activities, got rid of a lot of stuff, and created storage for types of supplies that are growing (such as the three level spray ink storage on my table in the picture above).

To see the entire room, see the reveal over on Craft Critique!

One of the major systems I overhauled was my stamp storage. I implemented a version of Jennifer McGuire’s popular system, with a few adjustments and adaptations. My previous system simply wasn’t designed for the volume of stamps that I now have, and the new system also accommodates thin metal dies, stencils, and 6×6 paper pads.

stamp storage system

To see how I overhauled my stamp system, visit “An Look At My Overhauled Stamp Storage” on Craft Critique.

For the final piece in my series, I opened drawers, peeked in files, and showed all the minute details that are the real keys to making my new studio organizing system work for me. Craft room organizing success truly is in the details!

I show details like how one of my new favorite organizing tools are sheet protectors – I use them for everything from stencils to paper scraps, to keep things contained and protected!

Storing Paper Scraps

I hope you enjoy my new craft room makeover reveal on Craft Critique, and that you find inspiration for your own organizing challenges!

9