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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.

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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!

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Organization | Top Five: Ikea For Craft Storage

I’ll just say it – I love Ikea. Our closest one is almost two hours away in Orlando, so I don’t get to go as often as I’d like, but despite this, Ikea products are rapidly taking over our home decor. And my scrap studio is no exception.

If you are a crafter looking to get organized, Ikea is absolute heaven! From the basic surfaces you need to work on, to storage for all of your supplies, the store has fabulous options for practically every craft storage challenge. And the best part is – you won’t break the bank!

Tables

Ikea’s selection of interchangeable table tops & legs are a dream for the creatively minded studio designer. They are simple, versatile, durable and practical, available in a variety of sizes and finishes – and affordable. The basic white 47 1/4×23 5/8″ model shown below, a Hissmon/Adils combination, has an MSRP of only $59.99:

hissmon-adils-table__0213782_PE369379_S4 Continue Reading →

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Paperclipping Roundtable #41: I Fought Sorting By Color

In this episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable, Noell, Izzy & I take on your organizational questions with the help of a panel consisting of Wendy Smedley and Molly McCarthy.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/roundtable/prt041_tth.mp3]

To listen to this week’s episode, you can use the player embedded above, right-click on this link to download the file to your computer, visit the Paperclipping Roundtable web page or to make things easy, you can use this link:

Subscribe for free to Paperclipping Roundtable on iTunes

That link will open in iTunes and take you to the subscribe page, and then you can click on the “subscribe” button.

Subscribing in iTunes is one of the best ways to support Paperclipping Roundtable. Using iTunes is free, and subscribing is free. (If you don’t know how to use iTunes to subscribe, you can watch a video here that shows you how.)

The Panel

Sponsors:

Art Journaling Bundle with Dina Wakely from GetItScrapped.com: Click here for the course information, and make sure you use coupon code dwajbundle4prt at checkout.

Big Picture Classes! Big Picture Scrapbooking has a new name! Click here for a promo code for Paperclipping Roundtable listeners to use to save 10% on any one class at Big Picture Classes! (Don’t forget that you can still use the link to support Roundtable even if you’ve already used the one-time discount code.)

Picks of the Week

More Links

Get Your Digi Game On

Disclosure

Want to stay up-to-date on all the latest scrapbook news?

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Organization: The Small Things

The littlest pieces of our scrapbooking stash can often be the most time and space consuming when it comes to storage and organization. Paper, stickers, brads, photos, and buttons – scrapbookers have dozens, if not hundreds, of these items they need to keep someplace. Today I am sharing my thoughts on storage and organization of these small items.

Perhaps one of the most debated topics in storage is patterned paper. By color? Style? Manufacturer? What’s the best way?

I believe vertical storage to be best, both for keeping paper from being damaged and for the ease of sorting through and finding what I want. Depending on your goals and what kinds of papers you keep, your needs for storage can vary greatly. Once upon a time I relied on a paper taker by Crop In Style for all of my paper. I have kept my cardstock in vertical storage by color for several years now, and I like the ease of use and being able to see when I’m running low in any given color at a quick glance.

While I like sorting my cardstock by color, I prefer to sort my patterned paper by brand. I find the vertical paper holders by Cropper Hopper to be phenomenal. Some of the ones I use today are the originals I purchased over five years ago – I’ve yet to replace any. To keep things from sliding around I keep them in a milk crate. This also allows me to store random papers between the files.

I used to keep my paper by color and patterns (polka dots, stripes, etc). However, I found that method to be a lot more work, and in the end more time consuming. When I would look for coordinating papers from a specific line or brand, I might have to look through all of my paper to find them. As you scrapbook, think about what would make things easier for you, and let that guide you in how you organize your supplies.

Next, let’s talk about stickers.

For the most part stickers and rub-ons get put into either a drawer or a small plastic tote (standing) where they’re easy to sort through. Lately though, I’ve been putting sticker sheets onto binder rings (available at any office store) and hanging them for storage. Being able to flip through the sheets quickly is a bonus, and I’ve found it to be a great way to keep new product out where I’ll see and use it.

The down side of the binder rings is that often you have to keep the stickers (or other items) in original packaging or punch a hole yourself. My solution has been to move them off of the binder ring and into a drawer or bin once they’ve been used a few times or no longer stay put well on the ring.

What about all those little bits? Rub-ons, tags, journaling papers, and other paper bits that need a home? To be honest, I’m not entirely happy with where I am at on this particular area of organization, but what I have for now is some very small drawers.

They are divided into small tags, journaling papers, and rub-ons. What I like about this is that it keeps things orderly, but I do not find digging through everything to be convenient for creating. I would consider either plastic bags (bound together with hole at top for binder ring) or perhaps a shoebox-sized container to keep the tags and papers in at this point, but I have hesitated because I’m not convinced either of those will be a better solution.

(Important to remember: Here in the real world, after the photos are taken, things are going to get used. Messed up. Worked with. Just because highly organized systems sound good, doesn’t mean that they work well.)

Next up is photos, and for me this is an easy one. I keep (fairly chronological)  Cropper Hopper Photo Cases full of my photos, as I choose to print any photos I want to keep. I consider digital files of my photos to be a back up, rather than my primary storage solution.

There are photo boxes of so many sizes and shapes, and some like the Memory Dock one pictured above come with a number of dividers to allow you to further organize your photos. While I like this concept in theory, once upon a time I tried to do this and found the set-size plastic photo holders to be too limiting. Sometimes I needed just a portion of one section for an event and then what? Do I add another event in? Leave the space blank? I wound up frustrated and wasting space. I like index cards in between events/dates in my photo storage boxes because they fit right in while allowing me to customize the amount of space taken by any given event.

I also keep a smaller box filled only with photos I’m wanting to scrapbook. Divided or open like the Martha Stewart box pictured above, it is a great way for me to keep photos grouped by layout, and access them quickly.

Finally, what about all those tiny items? Brads, buttons, pins, charms, photo corners, and other little bits can be frustrating because if they’re not stored in a easy-to-use fashion, you’ll spend a lot of time looking for that one special item. My first tip to you is something I learned from Tim Holtz: take stuff out of its packaging! By removing product from it’s packaging you’ll not only save space, but when you go to look for something it’ll be easier to find an item that will work for you.

Storage by type or by color are both equally effective in my experience. Stacy Julian has an excellent video blog series on her color storage system going on that I highly recommend watching to see embellishments stored in that way.

If your space is limited and you crop a lot, I cannot recommend the Urban Stamp Tote by MiMi enough. I purchased mine when it was brand new, and I’ve loved it ever since.

Don’t be put off by the name – I find it to be more useful for tiny bits than stamps of any kind. It can be kept open at home, then folded up, put in its tote, and hauled off to a crop. I consider it one of the best splurges I ever made in craft storage and organization.

Another choice for more compartments and a more permanent solution are boxes like this one by Craft Design. They are fantastic for tiny items, especially because keeping them in a shallow drawer makes them easy to access. Before you purchase a crafting one, though, visit your local home improvement store and look in the garage storage area. Storage boxes for nails, drill bits, and other small home improvement items are often a fraction of the price of crafting items if you don’t mind utilitarian colors like gray. Here’s one from Home Depot. Another great place to look is fishing or outdoor supplies. Tackle boxes are fantastic!

I keep color drawers for buttons, and I also put random bits and tiny chipboard by color in these drawers as well. What I love about a container like this is that the drawers come out. So if I am needing a number of green buttons, I can pull the drawer out and work with it, then return it to it’s spot when I am done. I choose not to organize everything by color though. I keep pins, charms, brads, and many other items according to item type. It’s a personal choice, and it works for me because all of my small bits and pieces are kept within my set of drawers here.

Jars are another great storage option for small pieces. Doodlebug has a series of jars available. I use some glass jam jars (purchased at the grocery store) that are wonderful. If plastic is a better option for you just look in the storage (or kitchen) departments of any store like Target. I keep my flowers in a plastic tub and dig through it when I want some, and I have used small jars for sequins, beads, and other small accents as well.

The bottom line? Personal preference, space, and style all need to be considered. Keeping things simple, and easy to both use and keep organized is key. One final tip I have to share is that I suggest avoiding lids. For some items in jars I think they’re fine, but in my experience when I use boxes, totes, or small containers with lids I end up throwing them (the lids) out. Why? I want ease of use, and for me sliding drawers or items with no lid is a step easier.

I will be sharing a third article on Friday covering the miscellaneous bits and pieces of my stash, along with a number of posts on my personal blog this week as well. If you have questions or comments I welcome them in the comments!

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Paperclipping Roundtable #6: How To Deal With All That Stuff

In case you’ve missed it, Paperclipping Roundtable #6 is available for listening! Join Noell Hyman, Ali Edwards, Ana Cabrera and me for the show!

After discussing in episode 5 how so many scrapbookers don’t scrapbook because they are overwhelmed by their stash of stuff, in episode #6 we had organizing expert Aby Garvey on to talk about how to overcome that. Garvey is the co-author with Wendy Smedley of The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker.

My pick for this week’s show: Technique Tuesday Organized & Inspired and Technique Tuesday A Little More Organized stamp sets.

To listen to this week’s episode, you can click here.

Note: Paperclipping Roundtable is now the number one scrapbooking audio cast on iTunes, and among the top rated of all the hobby audio casts. If you’d like to receive our advertising rates, please contact me via email at scrapbookupdate [at] gmail.com.

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