I can’t procrastinate any longer! Now that my heritage photos have been checked off my list, it’s time to sort through my recent printed photos. This collection is much larger than my heritage collection and I estimate about 11,000+ photos from 1987 through 2006.

Sorting this group of pictures will be very different from the way I sorted my heritage photos. I am still going to create a timeline to map important milestones and most of my tools will be the same.

If you are about to tackle this group of photos too, here’s what you need to decide…

Are you going to sort your pictures chronologically or in themes?

If you survey your photo collection, you likely took most of your photos in themes. You probably have birthdays, vacations, weddings, graduations, babies, sports and so on. Organizing by theme has many advantages…

  • Themes make it easier to pull together a photo album. Put an entire theme into one album like a vacation album, or take a handful of photos from each theme for a family yearbook.
  • Themes are easier to identify than dates. You may not be sure which year a Christmas photo is taken in, but you’ll know it’s Christmas!
  • Themes translate into tags and keywords. Once digitized, themes become keywords or tags when we start to tackle our digital images.

If your photos are a mess of disorganized prints with no structure, then I recommend a theme based approach!

However, if you already have a chronological structure in place then keep this intact. You can still identify themes, and group photos based on your end goal.

chronological photos

My photos are already organized chronologically and I’ll be keeping this structure. Why do I need to sort them you ask?

  • I dumped everything in here including duplicates. I’ll be focused on reducing this collection by eliminating duplicates and meaningless photos. How many sunsets do you really need?
  • I won’t be digitizing all of these photos, so I need to identify the most important ones.
  • I organized these photos in unsafe containers with acidic dividers, so they need to be transferred to a photo safe solution for archiving.

Next week we’ll start digging in! Until then, what did you decide for YOUR collection…

Themes or chronological?

Lisa Kurtz, Association of Personal Photo OrganizersWhen Lisa Kurtz lost her mother, grandmother, aunt, and uncle in three years, she was left holding a box of unidentified photographs with nobody to ask about them. Lisa embarked on a lifelong quest to discover and preserve her mom’s story, for herself and her kids, which led her to a career in professional photo organizing. Today, Lisa is the Founder of Pix & TALES with her daughter and together they help busy moms manage their pictures and tell their family stories.