In part one I talked about taking photographs to record the moments of your life, but now I’d like to go a bit further into how we store and organise all our photos.
If you own a digital camera, and I’m sure most people do, it’s easy to capture great shots and to check and edit them on the spot.
Do you remember how frustrating it was when we would have to take photos, wait for the reel to be finished, take them to a developer and wait days for them? And when we finally got them back we discovered that all the shots were ruined because the lighting was all wrong or our thumb was covering the lens, but it was too late to rectify the problem. Those were the days, hey?
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It’s so much simpler now and we can preview and choose the photos we want printed, manipulate them, crop them, and choose whatever size or setting we want.
How many of us have a shoebox full of badly lit, out of focus, off-centred black and white shots from our past that we just can’t bear to part with? If we had been able to find the willpower way back then to toss the bad shots away, we would probably have forgotten all about them by now and just enjoyed the few good ones we’d kept.
So the first rule for organising our photos is:
- Discard Bad Shots Straight Away.
Now, there are people I know who download their shots from the camera to the computer and stick them in a file called ‘John’s Party’ or something similar. This is a good step, but to make it simpler, we should be more specific with the name. That leads to rule two:
- Create Folders and Give Them Very Specific Names
‘John’s Party’ may be more aptly named ‘Cousin John’s 60th Party’ or ‘John’s Party Nov 2012’.
To simplify even further, we need to take the time to go through the photos and name them or at least number them and create a list somewhere that corresponds to the numbers. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but it’s going to save bother and confusion later on. If there are shots among ‘John’s Party’ that would be better off categorised somewhere else, move them straight away. For example – At John’s party you took a photo of your sister’s new baby. Do you have a folder for baby photos? Maybe this photo could be moved into there.
So I guess this would be rule number three:
- Take the Time To Cull And Categorize Your Photos
But we shouldn't just rely on our computer for storing those precious memories. If something were to happen to the computer they could all be lost. So rule number four will be:
- Always Back Up Your Photos onto A Disc, USB Stick, Or External Hard Drive
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If you print your photos off, chances are you are doing it for a specific reason. Maybe to frame them, scrap-book them or give them as gifts, and that’s great, but what do we do with all of our old photos that we've had since before everything went digital? If you’re really organised and keep them in albums I really admire you. Mine are in photo boxes in no particular order, which makes it time-consuming (but fun) looking through to find a particular one.
I have made several attempts to cull them and each time I manage to part with a few more, but I still have a little way to go. The good thing about photo boxes is that you can get some really nice ones that match your room’s decor and look good displayed on shelves.
But these old paper photos are even more precious and irreplaceable, and so it’s a good idea to return to rule number four and create a back-up copy of these photos. You can have them scanned (or do it yourself with a home scanner) and save a copy to your computer and disc.
I have seen some lovely collages made with old photos and hung on the wall. This is a great way to save space and prevent your pictures from gathering dust in some dark corner. If they’re worth keeping, they’re worth displaying.
If after all this you are still having trouble storing your hard-copy photos, perhaps you might think about passing them on to family who might appreciate them. You will always know where they are if you want to see them, but chances are you will be content with the few you've kept.
So I’ll make this the fifth and final rule:
- Don’t Let Your Precious Photos Gather Dust In a Corner – Display Them Proudly or Pass Them On To Others.
While we all have the best intentions, it can be too easy to put off tasks like organising our photos. There is always something that we consider more urgent (or more fun,) but we need to remember that photographs are probably the most precious – and irreplaceable – things we own.