Are you one of those people who made a New Year’s resolution to organize and declutter? If you did, the seemingly endless winter evenings of February are a great time to go through your family photos, choosing which ones could be stored in a storage unit or closet and which you would like to display in a family photo album or digital picture slide show. If you have a lot of old photos in storage, archiving them in a physical or digital album can not only cheer you up, but may also produce a beautiful keepsake that your family will enjoy for years to come. If you get it done before the 14th, your album might also make a wonderful Valentine’s Day present for a special couple. Below is one simple method for organizing your family photos:
- Let family members know that you are planning to organize the family photos. Ask them to send you any photos that they would like you to be sure to include. Remind them to also send you any documents that they think would be interesting to include, such as old birth certificates, wedding invitations, and old letters.
- If you are storing old clothes, you may want to sort through these at the same time. If you can find clothing that matches the clothing worn by family members in photos, you may want to cut off scraps to add color and interest to your photo album or scrapbook.
- Organize your photos in archival file folders or boxes as you sort them. Many people organize their photos chronologically, by date, but you may prefer to organize them by branch of the family, or by theme.
- Gather your supplies. If you plan to put together a digital scrapbook to share with family members online, your supplies may include a digital camera and cord to connect it to a computer, or a device for scanning photos and slides in order to digitize them. Or you may want to take your photos and slides to a developing service that will give you digital copies of each one. If, on the other hand, you are preparing a physical scrapbook, you may want to gather albums, adhesives, scissors, journaling pens, and any special scraps or mementoes that you want to add to the scrapbook. For example, you may want to use scrapbooking supplies such as colored or patterned papers, stencils or stamps, paper cutters, or hole punches. Be sure to use acid-free paper in your scrapbook to protect your photos.
- Organize each page of your scrapbook. You may want to choose an organizing theme for each page or double page spread. Choose between five and seven photos to go on each double page spread. For a single page spread, use between three and five photos.
- If you wish to, crop photos using sharp scissors or scissors with decorative edges. Or, for a digital scrapbook, use a cropping tool in your scrapbook software program.
- Mat your photos. If you are making a physical scrapbook, you will need to affix your photos to the pages. Many scrapbookers like to mat their photos by gluing the photo to a colorful piece of paper that is just a little bit larger than the photo itself. Then they glue the entire photo/colored paper combination to the page, creating the effect of a frame around each photo.
- Add captions to capture the names of people in your photos and the occasion and date on which each photo was taken, if available. This step is often called journaling by scrapbookers. You may wish to include your recollections of the event or a reflection on what it meant to you and your family.
- Add your final decorative touches, such as photo captions, borders, die cuts, or stenciled art. In your art and decorative additions, try to choose colors that complement the colors in your photos, or add stencils and stamps that have to do with the theme for that page. Stickers can make your page look finished without requiring you to carefully cut out shapes. Another simple way to add interest to a page is to use precut shapes, such as die cuts or punch art. If you are creating a digital scrapbook, you may even want to embed small video or audio clips to your page.
- Move on to your next page or spread.
- What should you do with your leftover photos and slides? One option is to store them in acid-free archival boxes. If you are craving another project to beat the winter blues, you could make decorative cloth covers for each of your archival photo boxes…but that’s another project for another day! Whatever type of storage you use, be sure to label the photos so that you don’t have to sort through every single photo the next time you are looking for a specific shot. Be sure to store the photo boxes in a climate-controlled space, such as a closet of your home or a climate-controlled storage space. Be careful not to stash them in a basement that may subject them to damage from humidity, or an attic that is unheated and prone to temperature extremes, as humidity and temperature variations can damage photos.
Pace yourself – don’t expect to complete an entire album in one night. You may want to set a goal of finishing a certain number of pages per evening, or per week. By spring, you may have a beautiful keepsake to share with family and friends! If you have elderly relatives, a keepsake album of your family’s history may make the perfect present for a golden anniversary or special birthday. And with luck, accomplishing something special that your whole family can enjoy will banish your winter blues – at least until next year.