Sorting and Filing

Most of us have them – boxes, envelopes, CDs, or computer files full of pictures. The very thought of having to sort them and file them can become overwhelming.

Collage of old photosI’ve found that the best way to get started is just to do that – get started! Try taking one small bundle or computer folder at a time and begin sorting them in whatever way is easiest and best for your needs. Since I’ve lived in several different places across Canada, I find it easiest to begin sorting by place. Then I start breaking these place groups down into years. Other people prefer to sort by theme, such as Christmas, vacations, people, while still others like to sort strictly by chronological order.

Your print pictures can then be kept together in photo safe, durable boxes that generally come with dividers that can easily be labelled.

Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind as you sort:

  • If your photos are still in the envelopes or on a CD you got from the printer’s, keep them together long enough to determine the date of each photo. It’s much easier when similar photos are kept together.
  • If you have a lot of photos, you may want to start your sorting by decades rather than by years.
  • Weed them out as you go. If a photo is too dark or blurry to tell what it is, it’s probably best to get rid of it. The only exception might be if it’s the only photo you have of something or someone very meaningful to you.
  • If you have more than one print of the same photo, decide who else might like to have a copy of it. Hang on to these duplicates to give away as soon as you can.
  • As you look at each picture, try to figure out whether or not it deserves taking up your space. Will the next generation care about it? Does it make you happy? If the answer is yes, go ahead and keep it; otherwise, get rid of it.

Now, what about the photos that have been filed away in an old photo album with acid in the glue, which causes your pictures to deteriorate? Although I haven’t tried it personally, I understand you can pry these pictures from their sticky pages all in one piece by sliding unwaxed dental floss under the edge of the picture and then sliding it back and forth all the way under the photo to cut through the glue. Another trick is to use a hair dryer on low heat to loosen the glue.

Take it slow and don’t get too overwhelmed. Take breaks and most importantly, have fun remembering the good times!

Here are some helpful links for more information.