Organizing Photos

Not too many years ago, my photo selection process started with carefully choosing when to press the shutter release button; film wasn’t cheap, processing was an additional cost, and every photo mattered.   Every photo matter as I   came to the end of the film, packaged the roll, checked and double checked that my contact information was correct on the envelope. Every photo matter when I dropped it off at the drugstore photo processing counter, impatiently waited the 2 – 3 days required, picked up the prints, flipped through the glossy rectangles carefully.
Twenty-odd years later, each photo is still carefully stored in its protective, acid-free plastic page.  The photo album closet is full but treasured.  The memories stored are carefully, deliberately chosen.  My parents have carefully been organizing photos as a seamless part of their photographing-printing-archiving process, but with the transition to digital and the abundance of free and instant memories, the photo monster is growing exponentially.
It’s no secret that I take photos by the bucket full (it’s excessive, really) but as long as I take the time to organize photos and tame the photo monster, I can control the photos . . . instead of the photos controlling me. 😉

Is this a photo I will be able to find on google or in an  encyclopedia?
I toss all but the one very very best.

Is this almost exactly the same as the photo before or after it?
I delete it.

Does this photo tell a story or create a memory that no other photo will ever tell?
I keep it.

Is this a photo that is unflattering or has eyes closed when another photo has all eyes open or is more flattering?
I toss it

Will I want THIS PHOTO in thirty years?  (Or ten, or five, or two?)
I keep it.

Putting each photo into perspective, haphazardly and quickly deleting a majority of the photos I take (treat it like a bandaid: do it FAST), and remembering the long game and not just the current emotional response helps me to keep some photos that might be out of focus and deleting some that are perfect but don’t tell a story.

Organizing photos requires guts, tears, and a clear view of the end-game: less clutter, fewer photos, but more treasured memories.


By culling through my photos, deleting most of them, and saving only the best-of-the-best, I’m  able control the clutter and then more easily share and print and store my photos instead of being daunted by the process . . . and eventually losing pictures in the electronic shuffle.

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