Dear Kathi,

I have a jumble of loose photographs in shoeboxes, drawers and other locations throughout my house. It seems that they are everywhere. Do you have any ideas for containing these keepsakes? I don’t want to keep shuffling through them as I get into drawers but I also don’t want to throw them out. They do represent great times from the past.
Joy, Cardiff


Begin by collecting ALL of your photos into one area. Do not stop until you are certain that there aren’t any other hidden piles in random drawers or boxes. Once all of your loose photos are gathered, you will see the enormity of your collection.

Find all of your photo albums and bring these into the same space. Take a quick glance into your albums. Don’t spend a lot of time reminiscing but instead quickly look to see what memories you’ve already archived.

Attack your loose photos. Look at each print and ruthlessly toss the blurry, red eyed and boring photos. Pull the photos that you really love and set them aside for framing.

When you get to the duplicates, either toss the second print or set it aside to pass on to a friend or family member. Be diligent in this process. Do you really need 2 identical photos of Uncle Ted on his houseboat? If you have 15 photos of Aunt Edna and one is bad, toss it. Aunt Edna will thank you.

If you decide to give your duplicates away, you’ve added another part to this assignment. Make sure that the person who will receive these photos will really want them. You don’t want to add to someone else’s clutter as you clear out your own. Right?

If you feel these photos will truly be appreciated, gather a few blank envelopes. Decide where they are going, and place them in an addressed envelope. When you are finished separating these photos, stamp the envelopes and mail them to the intended recipient.

Remember, you have not accomplished your goal until the extra photos have left your home. Do not neglect this task at the end. If this seems like too much responsibility or hassle, toss the duplicates in to the trash and be done with them! Give yourself a firm timeline to mail these photos. The best plan is to put them in your car so that the next time you drive by a post office you can send them on their way.

You can now decide what to do with the remaining photos. At this point, you might be really inspired to create a couple of photo albums. If this is the case, sort them by event or year and make a few books.

Make a list of the frames you will need to complete your framing project. You can mix and match frame shapes and sizes to create an interesting wall of memories. If you decide to use varying frame shapes, keep the finish the same or vary the finish and keep the shapes consistent. This will help to create a more cohesive wall pattern.

For the technically inclined, consider scanning each photo and saving them onto a CD. Once each photo is scanned, throw it out. You can make labels for each disc with one of the photos. This technique is fun and visually defines the photo collection on each disc.
If this idea appeals to you but you are not computer literate, there are many companies that provide photo scanning services. Your photos can be safely archived for life and will require a lot less storage space.

If you are already bored with this project, consider storing your photos loose in a nice box. Use a small hinged footstool or novelty cabinet for your photos. There are many unique boxes and small cabinets that can be perfect storage containers for photos and memories.

Try to buy a container that will fit all of your current and future loose photos and perhaps even your photo album collection. If you have a large album collection, store it grouped together in the vicinity of your loose photos. When your photographs are properly stored, you will be more inclined to enjoy them.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: [email protected]

San Diego Professional Organizer