Welcome to the first installment in the Steps to Scrapbook series! This is Step 1(a): Organize your printed photos.
I believe it is important to have a working organizational system for your photos to help with scrapbooking. You need to know what you have in order to decide what type of scrapbook pages and albums you would like to have or what stories you would like to tell.
The steps below are just one way to organize your photos. It is a somewhat organic process, so don’t be afraid to change things to what works best for you.
Oh, and one more thing before you get started: Take a deep breath and do NOT get overwhelmed. Once you have all of your pictures sorted into a system, everything that comes after will be a lot easier. Just breathe and dive in!
Step One: Gather your photos
Find all of your photos that are hiding in shoe boxes, in a closet, under your bed, or are in the envelopes from the photo developer. Put them all together in a place where you will be able to spread out and work. A table or the floor would work well for this.
Step Two: Sort by year
Ok, now that you have all of your photos in one place, let’s begin sorting them into piles by year.
- Having a separate box for each year will make this easier. Simple photo boxes from Michael’s or IKEA work great for this.
- Try working in 15-30 minute intervals. This will help break up the process and keep you from feeling overwhelmed and hyperventilating. It doesn’t have to be done all in one day!
- Try to work quickly when sorting. Don’t dwell on the memories or the quality of the photos. We’re going for speed here, since there may be quite a few photos to get through.
- If you don’t have a lot of older photos, you could sort by decade.
Step Three: Sort into categories
Once you have your pictures sorted by year, take one box and start to sort them into months, events, or by person.
- Some of your categories may depend on how you plan to scrapbook them. (Birthdays, holidays, immediate family, and extended family are some examples)
- Acid-free envelopes, index cards, tabbed dividers, or even Post-it notes labeled with each event or person will help keep things organized.
- Repeat with each year, until all of your photos are sorted by person/event.
- Also, at this point, you should be able to decide which pictures to keep and which can be discarded.
- Do not panic about throwing away photos! If they are bad (blurry, dark, etc.), you more than likely won’t put them on display in a frame or in an album.
- You may also discard multiple photos depicting the same event. Think of it this way: If you have 40 pictures of your child blowing out the candles at their fifth birthday, more than likely two or three of the best photos of each activity will tell the story of the event.
- Go for quality, not quantity!
Step Four: Find stories to tell
Now that you have spent some time getting to know your photos and have them sorted into some semblance of order, you may find stories that you would like to tell or themes for an album you would like to start.
Keep a list of these stories on a piece of paper, an index card, or a Post-it note in each box. This will keep them fresh in your mind when you are ready to start scrapbooking your memories.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful! I think that by breaking down the task of sorting your photos into ‘bite-sized chunks’ helps to alleviate some of the overwhelm that can occur when you don’t know where to start.
So tell me, how do you organize your printed pictures?
Also, if you have any suggestions to improve this process, please share in the comments below.