Let’s talk about the emotional side of photo organizing. I know…sounds scary but I’ve got some ideas to help avoid the feelings of dread and resentment that many of you have mentioned as your top feelings associated with organizing your family’s photos.
First, I want to make clear that organizing your photos is NOT like organizing your spice drawer.
I’ve never met anyone brought to tears by an old can of baking soda but a photo of you and grandma in her kitchen with flour on your cheeks…waterworks. Wait…I’m not the only one…right?
Photos are packed with emotion. That’s the point. That’s what makes them wonderful. I would argue that organizing your family photos is good for your mental health. That sorting through those emotions and memories is as liberating as years of therapy. Keep in mind I’m not a psychologist…But I have seen people experience profound joy by rediscovering forgotten memories and self-acceptance by embracing the goofy little child they once were…
When I talk to people about organizing their photos the most common emotion I run across are a combination of obligation and resentment. We feel obligated to do something with these slips of memories and deeply resentful that the task has landed on our plate. Why us? Why not cousin Emily? Because she’s a flake who doesn’t deserve the family photos…she can’t even…
Sound familiar? I’ve heard it. Families are complicated. We all have black sheep, flakes, nincompoops, and knuckleheads.
Here are five tips to help you embrace the experience of organizing your photos and also create an atmosphere of self-care:
- The set-up is everything.
- You are going to make a mess.
- The biggest mistake that I see people make when they try to organize photos is they try to keep everything tidy through the whole process. That’s very hard. Allow yourself to make a huge mess. It’s easier and way more fun.
- You don’t have to save everything.
- If you don’t like a photo of yourself…ditch it.
- If you don’t know who is in a photo…ditch it.
- If the photo is damaged, unflattering, or a subject you could care less about…ditch it. If you think someone else in the family would appreciate the picture…send it to them in a card “thought you’d like this!” Boom…you’re a hero and the dang thing is OUT of your life.
- There is NO right way to organize photos.
- A lot of people get stuck at this part. They want to do it “right” but don’t know what that means…so they get overwhelmed and don’t do anything.
- How you organize your photos is your business. You can organize them by color if that makes you happy. You can organize them by emotion. You can organize them by location. You can alphabetize them if you’d like. They just need to make sense to you.
- I like to organize by year and then season. I know boring. It’s just easier for me. If you organize your photos by color will you send me a picture…cuz that sounds awesome!
- Keep them safe.
- Now that you’ve sorted, tossed, and reviewed your photos…you know how special they are. Please make a plan to keep them safe.
- My top tip…always…is to get them digitized. You can do it yourself if you have a scanner and a lot of patience/time or you can have them done professionally. I recommend having them done professionally. It’s relatively inexpensive and a HUGE time saver.
- Once they are digitized back them up on your cloud or use a service like Forever. Avoid using photo printing services like shutter fly or snap fish as your back up. One, you lose your digital copyrights to the photos and two you cannot be sure how long they will be around.
Organizing your photos is an emotional process. I know.
When I organized my own family’s photos I had multiple “good” cries. It’s part of the process and it’s healing. Rather than run from the emotion, embrace it. The fact that you care is a great sign. It means the family picked the right person to be responsible; you were the hero they were waiting for…