Sometimes the simplest way to organize something is the best. Start with sorting them into one of three piles:
- Album Worthy: This photo is worth preserving.
- Box Worthy: This photo is worth keeping, but not worth honoring in an album (these are mostly similar or duplicates of better photos you have).
- Don’t Care: This can be shredded or tossed in a shoebox with the words “Don’t Care” written on the side so your family knows they weren’t important to you.
After the sort is complete include the following details on the back of each photo, either by hand or with a Post-it:
- Name(s) of people in the photo
- Date & location if you can recall (a rough estimate is fine: “maybe 1983?”)
- Any brief, relevant historical data (example: “Aunt Stephanie’s farm, Missouri”)
This shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be a pleasant journey through the past, which you can do in increments while you’re binging a show, trying to distract yourself from the news, or lounging around on a rainy afternoon. You can even inject a basic digital technique into the process. Take a photo of your photo with your phone, or have it digitally scanned if you want super-high quality, and include pertinent information in the title. You can even send it around to family or friends. Suddenly, a photo that’s been hidden in a drawer for decades can instantly brighten their day.
Also, don’t neglect the photo albums that have already been filled, or half filled, over the years. Or any antique photos you may have on the walls of your home or in storage. These priceless images need relevant information on their backs too. Providing even the most minor details will keep them alive for generations, and you can get all warm inside thinking of your grandkids holding the same photo many years from now and knowing exactly who’s in the picture.