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Organizing Your Old Photos

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By Christian Roemer

If you’ll allow me to pontificate for a moment, I’m going to do something that drives my wife insane. I’m going to deconstruct this blog post a bit, then I’m going to put the pieces back together in a way that (hopefully) inspires you to take action. What’s that action?

I want you to organize your photos.
But before I can tell you what to do, I’m going to do a little bit of armchair philosophizing about why you should do it--the reason behind doing it. This is what my wife refers to as, “Can’t you just not, and enjoy things instead?”

 

Off we go!


First, let’s talk about the “what.” That is, right now, your pictures are scattered about in a closet somewhere like Uno cards after someone hit you with a Draw 4 right as you were about to shout “Uno!” and you threw your hand of cards into the air in a furious fit of rage. It’s not a good look. Nobody checks out your photo collection because just looking at the mountainous pile elicits its fair share of anxiety. Your photos have turned into a habitual avoidance pattern. You have nightmares of your disorganized photos.


But why are you wanting to organize your photos, and what’s the point anyway? This is where I’m going to dig a little deeper. First of all, you took the photos because you thought that you had something interesting to document (and you did!). You wanted to preserve moments of your life for all of eternity as a still frame that you can return to until you shuffle off this mortal coil. You metaphorically gazed your own mortality in the face, and defying it, stated your claim as a being who was here! The immutable you will echo out into eternity for forever as an image stored in celluloid, and that’s something amazing. 


For most of human history, only aristocrats' images were ever captured, and their pictures were so boring. Not yours. You’ve got a photo of your dad spewing his lunch after riding the scariest roller coaster at Six Flags! You’ve got a photo of your little brother wearing your mom’s favorite stilettos. Your photos are exciting!


The why behind organizing your photos is that you took your pictures to be seen, to be re-lived over and over again. That tortuous mountain in your closet ain’t doing you any favors.


So if we think about organizing photos less as an exercise in organization and more as a process of utilitarianism, we have guideposts for what we need to do. We need to make our photos more accessible so that we can actually enjoy them as intended, not just neglect them. So, with that annoyingly long, and mostly pointless preamble, here are the three things I recommend doing to organize your photos so that you get the most out of them.

 

Get them digitized.

The world is digital these days. There’s nothing better that you can do to preserve the social nature of your photos than by getting them digitized. This should be at the top of your list in organizing your photos, mainly because they’ll be stored on your computer which has way less clutter than your spare bedroom’s closet.

 

Organize by year in binders.

I’m a fan of binders. They store well, they’re easier to grab than a heaping pile of like, 179 photos, and they’re fun to flip through! Amazon is a great resource for getting sleeves and binders. Organize your binders by year, person, or event, and put those binders out where folks can actually flip through them! Everyone loves a good coffee table binder full of blackmailable photos!

 

Make a scrapbook.

I’m not meticulous enough to ever get into scrapbooking, but I’ve seen some really rad scrapbooks. If you have a creative itch that needs scratching, a scrapbook is a great way to do it. It’ll preserve the photos, get them organized out of necessity, and best of all, they’re fun for folks to look at! It’s a win, win, win!


That’s it! By taking the steps to organize your photos, you’re taking steps to cement your part in the participation of the ever-forward marching infinity of time!


Or you’re just cleaning out your closet a little bit. You choose your own significance.

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