As you think about which photos to keep, you’re likely thinking about sharing them with family and friends. While you can share the extra copies, we prefer sharing digital copies. This means your prints will need to be digitized. Since this is a bit of an investment, you have some things to consider: Scan now, select and organize later or Organize now and then scan the best ones. We like to organize before scanning because it’s easier to build upon this system and use it for all digital photos. And you avoid the cost of scanning photos you don’t want to keep – especially those duplicates and blurry shots.
Getting Picky – What’s Worth Keeping?
If you’re like most people, your photo collection includes some great shots, duplicates, a few blurry pictures and the ones that tell a story. Using the ABC’S as our acronym, this will be our guide for how to select our favorites. The “A” photos are the ones you like the best – typically the ones that you liked so much you ordered reprints of them. You may even have them in an album. These are the ones you want to highlight, preserve and share with family and friends.
If you have photos in albums, you will need to consider whether to keep them in place or remove them from the album. If the pages of the album are the old, magnetic sticky sheets, then it’s best to remove them from the album to avoid further deterioration. Since someone spent the time to carefully group photos together, you’ll want to pay attention to this and keep them in the same sequence. However, if you cannot remove the photos from the album, they can be scanned while still adhered to the album.
Memorabilia can and should be scanned for safe keeping. Include this in your organizing system so that when the digital versions are uploaded to your computer, you can easily locate them following the same system.
The “B” photos are those shots that are close to the same quality as the Album-worthy shots, but you don’t think they are as important to showcase. You should still digitize these for safe keeping so include them in your “To be Scanned” box. An example of a “B” photo might be a look-alike version of a pose – might not be the best one but still good for preserving.
The “C” photos are usually an easy decision. These are the blurry or under/over exposed shots. Or they may be photos of people you don’t remember! No need to scan a picture of a stranger – unless it’s an heirloom photo! Discard similar shots of the same view or pose. Then use a genealogist to help you identify it! If they are duplicates you can consider passing them along to family/friends or putting them aside to use for craft projects.
Telling the Story
Sometimes the story-worthy photos aren’t the best quality shots but the only copy you have to commemorate that event. You’ll want to keep this in mind as you select your photos to be digitized. As you think about how to group/categorize your photos, think about your preferences – chronological, themes, people and special events.
If you’re creating a life book or showcasing eras, organizing chronologically is typically the way to go. If you want to showcase interests, traditions or events then theme-based organizing works well. There’s no right or wrong way to group your photos – keep in mind how you remember events and traditions. Some folks are great at recalling dates, while others work better with themes!
As you find or recall important details such as the date, event name and location, document these on the index cards. Or you can create a spreadsheet to list them in chronological order. This is especially helpful when you are ready to put together a photo album or a slideshow. Then the process of telling the story is easier because all the pieces are organized together.
Selecting photos can feel like a huge responsibility. If tackling this on your own seems daunting, send me an email. We have a keen eye for recognizing those important story telling details.
Next Step – Securing your Photos