Organizing your photos can be as easy as using your ABC's! At the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, we teach a method called the ABC's of Photo Organizing™, developed by Founder Cathi Nelson, to help people work through the sorting process.
The first step is to gather all your photos into one spot, whether on the table or on the computer. Then you'll start making decisions on what to save and toss. If you have digital photos all over your computer, you might want to consider using Picture Keeper to round up all of your pictures. All you have to do is insert your Picture Keeper into any USB port on your computer, and it will automatically go and find all of the photos (rather than you having to go find them in various places on your computer yourself!). This gives you an easy way to corral all those photos, and then you can put them back into the software of your choice to organize them. Check out About.com's Top Digital Photo Software Picks for Family Photos if you need help deciding which software to use.
Once you've established which software you are going to use for your digital photos, you're ready to move on to the ABC's.
A is for Album. Your A photos belong in an album or a photo book. They are personal and cherished...they have stories behind them. If you are sorting printed photos, you'll simply place them into an A pile. If you're working with digital photos, you'll be tagging them with a flag or a rating.
B is for Box. Not every photo needs to go into an album. However, that doesn't mean they aren't significant to you. Your B photos should be organized into an archival storage box. Printing your photos is the best way to preserve them. The printed photo is stable, and can last hundreds of years if stored properly. They aren't susceptible to computer crashes or technical obsolescence. When you pass away, your relatives are more likely to keep your printed photos than your digital files. You also should consider using a photo labeling pencil to keep track of the who, what, when on the back of these photos.
C is for the Can...whether it's a digital trash can or a physical one. Give yourself permission to throw away the photos you don't need...you know, the blurry ones, the duplicates, the ones with the heads cut off, and the people you no longer know. With digital photos, I try to download my photos as soon as possible after taking pictures and delete the ones I don't need right away. Because we take so many more pictures with digital cameras than we ever did with film, we're likely have a lot of duplicates. If you took 50 pictures of the sunset on your Hawaiian vacation, you probably only need one or two of them. By paring them down right away, it's a bite size chunk of work versus becoming an overwhelming task if you wait months or years.
Now that you've sorted your photos into the ABC's, you may be wondering what the next step is. In my next blog, we'll talk about themes and how you can use themes to organize in a way that makes sense for a lifetime of photos.