Themes Make Photo Organizing Easier

In order to keep track of your photos and create a system, you will need a few items. Sticky notes, colored index cards, large plastic storage bags and a pen are inexpensive tools that can help you begin the sorting process.  (I will discuss archival storage options in an upcoming post.)

Often people think sorting by date is the most logical approach. Was Johnny four or six in this photo? Was this 1965 or 1970? Christmas 2004 or 2001?  Rather than starting chronologically, I suggest you start with themes using the colored index cards.  Take the time to look at what you took photos of, if you are like most people it will be these categories;  birth, toddler years, childhood, weddings, first day of school, vacations, holidays, scenery, snow or beach days, family gatherings etc. Choose a colored index card and make a note with a heading in the categories you most often took photos. Lay those out on your table and begin to place the photos in the categories. Don’t worry about the chronological timing right now or the desire to reminisce. Just get the photos sorted into piles based on themes. If you find your attention wandering, break the job down into small chunks of time. Set a timer for 45 minutes and don’t stop until the timer goes off, take a break and start again.  Repeat this over the coming days and weeks until you have emptied the storage boxes and your photos are sorted into piles.


CathiPioneer of the Photo-Life Management Industry, Cathi Nelson is the founder of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, an association that trains individuals who specialize in helping consumers and businesses rescue their irreplaceable film and digital photos, organizing them in a way that makes it simple to share their memories, lives and traditions. Since its inception, APPO has grown to include hundreds of members throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and United Kingdom.