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Tackling Photo Archiving Projects You’ve Been Putting Off

It’s a new year and it’s time to start fresh and tackle those photo archiving projects you’ve been putting off. We reached out to Cathi  Nelson, the founder and president of APPO to see what tips she had for getting things done and doing a better job of documenting life in the new year.

  1. We all have piles and piles of old family photos that need to be scanned and digital images scattered across multiple devices (computers, phones, etc..). Here are some of the best ways to start getting organizing.
    1. Write out your plan of action. One for digital photos and one for printed photos and remember the saying, you eat an elephant one bite at a time!
    2. For your digital photos, take the time to gather all your photos from your devices into one central location on one computer. Call this your digital hub.
    3. Before you import all your photos create a file structure organized by year, for example 2010 and then within each year create monthly folders. APPO recommends you name your monthly folders either 01 January, 02 February or 2010_03 etc.
    4. It is important you take the time to rename your photos so you can find them in the future easily. When importing your vacation photos from March 2010 name them all using the Who, What, Where, When concept. Example: 2010-03- vacations-nelson –florida. This way you can search your computer in the future and locate your photos easily.
    5. Even though there are varying opinions on the best way to name your photos, experts agree that consistency is the most important detail. Decide what makes sense for YOU and then be consistent.
    6. Next set up a calendar reminder at the end of each month to import your 35 – 50 best photos into your monthly folders, this way you will be up to date going forward.
    7. In addition to digital photos, you likely have printed photos. Gather all your printed photos in one place and start sorting by using the ABC’s of photo organizing.
    8. A – photos are the keepers, B – photos belong in an archival photo safe box, C –  photos should be tossed in the CAN, S – photos – does your photo tell a story, so it goes in the A pile.
    9. If it gets too overwhelming, there are people who will help! Hire a photo organizer. They will be able to assess your entire collection and offer you relief! Many organizers offer three options. They will educate you so you can do it yourself, work alongside you to keep you on track or do it for you saving you time.
  2. If you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone! The numbers of digital photos taken every day is staggering. A survey of regular photo takers “reveals that Americans now take more than 10 billion photos every month”. That is A LOT of photos!
  3. In addition to digital photos, there are over 1.7 trillion paper photos stored in albums, attics & shoeboxes. All of these photos represent the heart and soul of a family’s story.

In conclusion, why is this so important? Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves and the best way to tell a story is with your family photos. If you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s life with slideshows, videos, wall displays and photo books. Those acts alone will increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.

 Guest post from Cathi Nelson. Cathi is the founder and president of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. Learn more about APPO on their website.


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