If you had to evacuate your house in a short amount of time for various reasons like a flood, what are some of the things you would want to take? Pictures would make that list for me. Would that be a quick task? Are they all organized and quickly portable? Let’s look at some photo storage ideas to decide what’s best for you.
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Photo storage ideas will obviously be different for digital photos than printed photos. We’re going to focus on organizing printed photos here. If you want to know more about organizing digital photos, read this article.
You may be asking yourself how you will organize the thousands of family photos you have. Take a deep breath, because I’ll walk you through it step by step.
Printed Photo Storage Ideas
Important terminology to look for when choosing the containers includes terms like acid-free and polypropylene. Check out this article for more information regarding the archival and picture storage terminology.
Acid-free is used for paper type products. It’s very important to get this to preserve the pictures as much as possible. For plastic containers, look for polypropylene.
Terms like acid-free and polypropylene indicate that the material will not break down as much and damage photos.
Pictures and negatives will be in direct contact with these photo storage items, so it’s important to get the photo-safe organizers. Pictures can fade and get brown spots over time if they’re not protected with the right containers.
Heavy Duty Storage Boxes
Plastic Photo Storage Boxes
Albums with pockets to insert the pictures
Self Adhesive Photo Albums
Scanner – various ones, but some can scan both pictures and the negatives.
A note about scanning is to remember to keep the portable storage media it is saved to current. Remember the floppy disks from years ago? Yeah, there is new technology now. Even the CD is getting out of date as many computers don’t have this reader available.
Other Photo Tools
Photo Safe Pens
In addition to having the right photo storage unit, you’ll want to document what, when, and who the pictures are about. Photo safe pens are available and different than just a regular pen that could damage the picture.
Photo Cleaning Cloth
These types of cloths are great for removing smudges, dust, and fingerprints.
Waxed Dental Floss
This may need to be used to help pull up photos that are in those old self-adhesive photo albums that may be stuck.
I know, you probably have 30 years of loose photos, but it will all come together.
1. Gather all printed pictures and put them together. If you have pictures from various people like your parents, your spouse’s side, etc. keep them in those separate piles, but all gathered together.
2. Buy photo-safe storage boxes that are cute and will keep you motivated to continue this project.
3. Label each box with various categories. Examples include by Year, Childhood, Wedding, Vacation, Children, Holidays, etc. While it is easier to sort by a particular event like a wedding, if you file by year, you can find those events.
The Sorting Begins
4. Sort through the photos and divide between the boxes. If you have 10 pictures of almost the same thing, consider weeding that down to just a few. One of the reasons why we treasure the previous generation’s pictures is because there were only a few. We have so many more now with camera phones, so we should at least narrow them down some.
5. If you have pictures in albums, decide if you want to keep them all in the albums or put in the photo boxes instead. Use waxed dental floss to remove pictures from non-safe photo albums if they are stuck. If you decide to keep photos in albums, make sure they are safe for photos.
6. Take pictures out of albums that are not photo-safe. An example is the magnetic photo albums that had adhesive & the plastic page cover. The adhesive is not safe for photos.
The Last Steps
7. Label the pictures after you’ve organized them, as this step could take some time. Use a photo-safe pen to label them.
8. Scan your photos to store them digitally. To scan photos, you can use a scanner or take a picture with your camera phone. Use natural light from a window or a well-lit area.
9. Now that these printed photos are also saved digitally, be sure to back them up with at least two different methods.
10. Each month, decide what photos you want to print out and put them in a photo box, album, or frame to enjoy the memories.
The advantage of having all the photos scanned is that it keeps your memories safe.
My husband does not have many pictures from when he was little because of a house fire. Some of the pictures that were salvaged have black smudges around them. 40 years ago, computers were not as common so keeping them digitally was not always an option.
With the digital era of iPhone cameras, more pictures are taken than generations back. Do you have many of those printed? Are they organized?
Let your family legacy live on by organizing your printed photos. Sort the pictures and put in photo-safe containers by categories best for you. There are several photo storage ideas to choose from. Evaluate any photo albums to decide if you want to keep them in the albums and determine if they are safe. Any pictures in non-safe albums like the magnetic photo albums should be removed. Put them in a photo-safe album or photo box to keep them safe. Remember to print out a few of your favorite photos you take monthly or so. Labeling photos with a photo-safe pen is a great way to tell the story so future generations can read. Scan printed photos that were not taken with a digital camera so that your priceless memories and photos are safe.