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“Just a minute I will quickly show you that picture of us in Paris!” Are you able to put your hands on that specific photo when you want it, or are you one of those that will sort them when you have more time, or do you put it off because you cannot find the scrap booking paper or embellishments you are looking for?

Photos record our family history. They tell us who we are, where we have been and where we have come from. They are psychological anchors in our hectic lives. Photos are a person’s most valued material possession and are kept to reminisce, to share, to brag and provide a sense of nostalgia and security.

 I helped a client organise 40 years of photos and found that family photos are priceless and evoke emotions long forgotten. Unfortunately most photos were wasting valuable space and had to be tossed. How many pictures of elephants, the same holiday location and cute Zebras do you actually need?

Have your pictures at your fingertips, store and preserve them for the future generations.

Getting started

Dig out your photos from where ever you had stashed them. Clear a table to do the sorting.


  • Get a couple of boxes or create folders on your computer, make labeled dividers or sub folders and sort your photos into different categories. Picasa, offers a free desktop solution to organising and storing digital photos. Photos are sorted into albums which form part of collections and you can simply drag and drop photos between categories.
  • Arrange them chronologically then by event, subject or theme, e.g.

      Chronologically— per person, baby’s first year, school memories and everyday life

       Events—wedding, reunion, special birthday, holidays

       Location—National Parks, cruise stops, trips

  • Name your photos. (Who, what, where, why and when ). Digital cameras capture dates but places and people need to be recorded. Don’t rely on your memory! After a couple of years you will not be able to tell churches apart you visited whilst on a trip.
  • Ensure that you use filenames that make sense, e.g. St. Peters Rome. jpg instead of 012.jpg this will enable you to find the picture you are looking for faster.
  • Be ruthless; keep only the good ones you would show to others.
  • Give away duplicates.
  • Discard, delete any photos that are bad, blurry, eyes closed, heads cut off, or not interesting.
  • Be careful that whilst editing a photo that it does not overwrite your original. Save a copy under a different name

Store your photos safely to save your memories

  • Decide where you want to store your photos, (albums, scrapbooks, boxes, photo books, CDs, DVDs, i-pod). Prints stored traditionally will last a lifetime. Beware, the modern storage systems might become obsolete in a couple of years time.
  • Buy enough identical photosave albums which will be more visually appealing than odd sizes and colours.
  • Keep your photos, in a cool, dry, dark place. Never leave photos in the sun or heat.
  • Discard your negatives or transfer them to labeled sleeve protectors (available at photo-supply stores)

Stay organised

  • Develop the habit to organise, download or process photos immediately after an event. If you can’t, ensure that the lab envelope is dated, year inclusive. Edit photos, burn good ones onto CD, print out special ones for your album or scrapbook. You’ll always be able to pull out photos for projects and duplication as you need them.
  • Don’t store your digital photos on the hard drive of your computer. Images take up a vast amount of memory. Should your computer fail, your memories will be lost forever! Choose the best ones and burn them onto CDs, DVDs or save them to your i-pod, to free space. Ensure that the file is readable before deleting images off your hard drive. Make back up copies to be kept at a different location. Label the discs and store them on a spindle, in jewel cases or books.
  • Remember to save special achievement photos for your children. Have reprints made for each child of special birthdays and events. Give the album / CD to them on their 21st Birthday. If you don’t have the negative, have it scanned or use picture-editing software.

Still no time to sort and sift through your mountain of photos?

Hire a professional organiser to help you sort and organise your photos.

Heidi Meyer

Professional Organiser

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