07 July 2011

Thirty by thirty: photo organization update

Hey, remember when I showed you where my entire family history in photos, nearly four generations' worth, is kept?

You might also remember that it’s a 30 by 30 goal to turn those shelves of albums into... well, at least something slightly better than those shelves of albums. I honestly did not know how, though I mentioned that I might scan in some of the photos, and I still might.

But at the very least, I wanted to throw out the unnecessary photos – you know, the accidental photo of a hand taken when loading film or cabin roommates at camp whose names have been long forgotten or that photo of something very important at the time but turned out to be a photo of mostly, I don't know, the sky, or ground, or something, or that time we went to a water park and you went down that one slide like twenty times and I took a photo of your blurry self each time. I still have all of those. Oh, memories.

Yeah. Time to pare down.

I first decided to tackle this box, shoved in the bottom of the closet as you can see in the photo above:

It’s mostly from high school and college when I was still using film. My mom was early on the digital camera scene, actually, 1998 or so, but her camera took photos that are probably lower quality than those taken by today’s iPhones. Plus, the memory card was tiny and we certainly didn’t have a laptop to download the photos while on vacation. So for nice events and big events – you know, the sort of events I still want to remember – I took a film camera. Most of the photos from that era ended up in a little mini photo album for each event, unless I was lazy and I left them in that default green 1-hour photo vinyl envelope album to deal with later. Like, a decade later. So to start with, I sorted the photos by event and year.

I discovered, though, that my mom also spent a lot of time and printer ink and photo paper printing out a lot of her digital photos. That’s probably for the best because I honestly have no idea where those photos are now. Another reason for list item #30. Still, it meant that I had to cut a lot of them out of 8.5x11 paper with my trusty-dusty 12” paper cutter. We became BFFs during wedding planning and it’s another one of my desert-island tools (I am assuming I will need to do a lot of paper cutting on the desert island).

But why did I have to cut them out? Because I needed them all photo-sized to fit in this box, which I decided was my storage solution of choice:

That’s one of many (like eight, for now) $4 photo boxes I now own from H-Lizzle. They sell all sorts of patterned ones, but I’m a sucker for the simple white. And the little metal label-holder is so classically cute. I couldn’t resist using a bit of leftover scrapbook paper for a fun little pop of color. I hear IKEA has similar ones but I wouldn’t know as I live in a wasteland devoid of IKEAs.

Anyway, did you notice the years on the box? As in, how MANY years of photos fit in one box? It's impressive even without knowing that I originally labeled it as 1996, then realized after taking a photo that it actually extends back to 1995, and then remade the label, and took another photo, and then realized it actually has photos to 2006, and considered making ANOTHER label, but then decided that the craziness had to stop somewhere even after a further discovery that the box has photos from 1994.

(You know I will relabel it later.)

Anyway, point is:

That’s right, once I culled out those photos I didn’t need and got rid of all those loathsome green vinyl envelopes, all the photos from junior high to college fit in one box! And I wasn’t even heartless in what I threw out – I kept most of them. It just shows what unnecessary bulk albums create. So: are you flipping through your photo albums routinely? No? Especially since all your film photos are now over a decade old so the albums are just collecting dust? I thought so.

And besides, if I want to locate a certain photo, it’s much easier now than it was when they were in albums:

I just cut out some cardstock with the help of my BFF (the paper cutter, I mean) to sort the photos. The boxes actually come with 12 divider cards, but I didn’t know how many I would need and I could write more descriptive words on mine.

So there’s some progress! I have since filled several more boxes, and I’m now back to 1985ish. By this point, I’m not sorting by event, just year, because it would become too monumental a task. My mother was an excellent documentarian so the number of photos increases as I go further back in the past… both a good and bad thing. Good because I know exactly which laughable 80's era outfit I wore every day in kindergarten, but bad because each it's taking more and more time to sort the older albums. I’ll let you know how the rest shakes out!