Preserve and Organize your family memories
I asked my friend Cyndi Shattuck to share her knowledge with my readers because so many of us are in the “Sandwich Generation”… managing heirlooms and memories of our parents/grandparents while trying to limit excess and collections to simplify our lives. Thanks so much Cyndi for sharing your insights with us! Read on to become inspired!
As busy mompreneurs, one item that always lingers on our to-do list is organizing the many boxes of family photographs! We want to be able to organize, preserve and display our treasured memories, but how? This task seems so daunting! With the right systems in place, along with a little patience and professional advice, these memories will be preserved and cherished for generations to come.
How To Organize Your Family’s Photo Collections
Always wash your hands before sorting any printed photos or documents. No open containers of beverages or food near your project area!
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The first step is to do a basic edit of your photo archives. This is often the hardest part, but there is a huge weight lifted once you can see the best images of your family and memories instead of a pile of good photos mixed with so-so images. The memories begin to come alive again! It’s like most organizing, in a few hours or days, you literally won’t remember the images you discarded.
So let’s start by discarding any blurry or bad photos. No one will ever need a vintage blurry photo of the Eiffel Tower or a photo of grandma with her eyes closed — even if she has passed away. Let’s remember our loved ones with open eyes. For personal security, I suggest shredding prints and negatives before discarding. If you don’t have a paper shredder, place your images in a trash can and pour water or juice on everything you are discarding. Your images will stick together in one large clump.
Documents and Printed Images:
1) Sort through your boxes and piles of photos and organize them into envelopes (any kind of new clean envelope to start is okay) by month and by year. Before adding photos, label the outside of the envelope with a PENCIL only. I have provided you with a pencil to start. Be careful not to use envelopes with metal closures, the metal can scratch your archives. If needed, you can pull out the metal closures before using the envelopes. You should label individual photos in pencil and/or with a Post-it note and pencil on the BACK of the photo. Include the date, names and places.
2) Keep negatives and CDs with the matching prints inside the original envelopes, only handle negatives with gloves provided or hold carefully by the edges.
3) Please remove and recycle old paper folders, old boxes, cardboard photo frames and extra photo envelopes. Transfer dates and information on the outside of photo envelopes before discarding.
4) If you have extra prints, send them to friends and family. People love getting these images by surprise in the mail — even years later! I usually like to have a few cardboard photo envelopes ready to mail before sorting. Just add photos as you sort. I can also assist with this task when we start your project.
5) Once sorted, store photos in a clear plastic box with a tight lid, place in a cool dry place or closet (not near a bathroom or kitchen) until we are ready to meet and go album and edit crazy!
1) Gather all of your digital images on to an external hard drive or a cloud storage site like Dropbox. Download images from all mobile devices as well. Sort them by “date created” and begin your editing. Discard any blurry or bad photos.
2) Sort images into folders as you would like them to appear in albums. I usually choose to do my photo albums in chronological order. You can sort by each person’s name with the year and/or event or vacation. Label the folders with the year first “2007- Florida” or “2008 – John”.
3) You may need to duplicate images that appear with more than one family member if you are creating albums for several different people. For example, if an image has Mom, Dad, Jen and Jeff, then you may need to put one copy of the image into Mom and Dad’s folder, and then one copy of the digital file into each folder for Jen and Jeff. If you are just sorting your own memories, then you can skip this task.
4) If you have double digital files, discard the file that is smaller in size. If unsure, keep both files until you can work with a professional.
Please share your thoughts and comments
Take advantage of these useful tips and ideas and let us know if you were able to get a jumpstart on this project!
Cyndi Shattuck is a trained professional photographer (BFA in Photography), Photo Editor and Creative Director with 10 years experience in the news business working for the Philadelphia Weekly, The Wall Street Journal and WSJ.com. She has 30 years experience shooting film and digital cameras. Her darkroom and studio photography experience–working with everything from Polaroids to 8” x 10” negatives–helps her identify and understand the needs of every client’s varied archive. Cyndi works with her clients to determine the best way to preserve your collection based on your budget, display needs, deadline and storage space. To learn more about Cyndi Shattuck Archiving, connect on Facebook or via her website.
If you would like to contact archivist and photographer Cyndi Shattuck with any questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cyndi works out of her studio in Princeton, NJ. Her clients come from all over the world, but also from New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia.