organizing printed photosPeople of a certain age, older adults, have a lot of printed photos. In the past, there were actual cameras we used with film cartridges that you had to take in for developing.  Those actions led to a mass quantity of physical photos. It’s not unusual to find boxes of loose photos, negatives and those little cardboard slides for projectors in my client’s homes.

Back in the day there weren’t as many options for storage and to display printed photos as there are today. We also didn’t understand how to preserve our treasured memories so we could enjoy them for a very long time. At one point, a popular option for storage were those awful magnetic albums.

What we didn’t know then, was that after some time, the photos adhere to the page and the plastic film over the photos. Trying to get them out without damaging the photo is nearly impossible. There are tools today that can be used just for that purpose.

There are other types of albums with sleeves where the photos easily slide in and out. Another option other than albums are, photo boxes. They come in the cardboard style and a plastic version. Printed photos are stored loose in these boxes and there are dividers to separate and label the categories.

There is one more option to mention for storing printed photos, and that is to scan them to your computer. Digitizing photos has multiple benefits – they can be downloaded to any digital storage device or social media platform via computer, keeps them safe from natural disasters, there are companies that turn your photos into books for gifts, and my favorite – requires no physical storage space.

Organizing Process

As mentioned in many other posts, organizing is a process. The basic organizing principals are used when working with printed photos as well as anything else you want to organize.  Here are the steps in the process as a refresher.

Put like items together

Go through all the various areas in your home to find all your albums, boxes and loose photos. This can include photos, negatives and slides.  If they are in albums, carefully remove them so you can work with loose photos.

Put them in the area in which you will work. Look for an out of the way place with a large surface for sorting so you can work on this project when time permits.  It will likely take a long time depending on how many photos you have.

Sort them into categories of your choosing.  A lot of people want to put them in chronological order. This is probably not the best option. Trying to remember when every event happened in your life can be overwhelming and slow the progress of the project.  It may be better to sort by themes such as, holidays, vacations, life events, sports, etc.

Eliminate excess

Now that you have them altogether in one place, and put into categories, it’s time to eliminate the excess. Look at them one at a time and toss the multiples of one photo, fuzzy or blurry pics, and those with people or things you don’t recognize.  This step can also be done as you are sorting into categories. You will end up with a lot less photos to store than when you started this process.

Assign homes

This is the step when you need to decide where your printed photos will live.  Open shelves or a closed cabinet may make a difference as to which type of storage, or container you choose.

Various storage options were mentioned above – albums, photo boxes and digitizing.  Consider the various options and choose the storage option that works for your needs. When you make that decision, proceed to the next step in the process – containment.


Albums, photo boxes and digital are all options for storage, or containment.  Some may choose a combination of options. Organize the photos in the chosen containers by category. Label each divider, page or digital file with the categories determined early on in the process. If you know specifics of some of your photos, jot down notes on the back of the photo, in the album under the photo, or in the file name of the photo.

What is your favorite option for storing your printed photos?