Conquering the Photo Deluge
In the olden days of actual film, people used to be so careful about the pictures they took. Camera film was expensive. So was developing the pictures.
Today, with excellent phone cameras that have seemingly unlimited storage in our Google clouds, everyone can document each family, friend and food moment. There’s no economy to picture taking: you snap until you snap.
But now there’s the opposite problem — too many pictures and no one is sure quite how to organize them.
“People are in backlog mode,” says Ellen Delap, president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, noting that some want to save space on their phones or tablets and others want to share photos with family and friends.
How do you go about tackling this gargantuan project? This summer, as the days are longer and you have more time to tackle big projects, consider de-cluttering your digital space as well. Clutter can lead to more stress. Stress interrupts your sleep. Not sleeping well can make you more emotional and less motivated. Who wants that?
1. Organize Your Files
First, consolidate your family’s digital photos from all devices into one place. One easy way to do so is to link everyone to that magical cloud or put everything on one computer and then upload to the cloud. This is a one-time step since many cloud-based photo services like Google and Amazon will automatically upload all the family’s photos in the future so you won’t have to do it again manually. Or you can buy an external hard drive to transfer and save all your photos.
2. Classify and Delete
Next, set up digital folders so you can organize and find everything. You can arrange the folders according to year, occasion or people. Along the way, you’re going to have to — gulp — delete. “We usually have so many copies of the same photos,” Delap says. How do you pick the best shot? She uses the “tournament mode,” like an elimination match, comparing the first two shots, then picking the best one and deleting the other, and so on. If you want to outsource the job, the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, a community of independent business owners, helps people with a system to sort and organize their photos.
Now, you can share an online album with family and friends and not expect them to watch a 2,500-picture slideshow.
3. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Some people can’t tackle their photos because they’re perfectionists. But all you need is a few hours, Delap says. Make some time on a hot summer night in the bedroom before your bedtime routine — either as a family or as a couple — to review the photos and organize them into digital albums. Although Delap does size her pictures and makes sure everyone is smiling, she doesn’t agonize over every filter and angle. “My motto is, ‘done is perfect.’ Get it out the door.”
4. Ready, Set, Print
These days hardly anyone (except maybe scrapbookers) makes photo albums by printing photos and physically gluing, pasting or slotting them into hefty bound albums. Most people, Delap says, print photo books they’ve compiled using inexpensive companies like Walgreens or Shutterfly. What kind of albums to make? You can make them from a vacation or holiday, or from the best photos of the year.
“The only present my husband wants for Christmas is an album,” Delap says, noting she does it herself but leaves the slim hardback albums out for family to look at all year.
After a special trip, she also makes a grandchild-centered album with each child’s name on it. “They’re the main characters and they love it.”
5. Digitize Physical Photos
Even as you’re making digital photos into physical albums, there’s a move to digitize old photos from boxes and albums. This way, these valuable keepsakes remain accessible even if there’s a disaster like a fire or a flood. Many people want to share old photos with other family members, too, as well as preserve the visual quality. You can buy a scanner to bulk upload them, send them to a service or hire a professional.
While the setup and organization might take some time, once you have a system down, you can use it all year long with just a little effort. This means a bit less stress and one less thing to think about as you start your bedtime routine tonight. Sweet dreams!
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Photo by Jatniel Tunon on Unsplash