Ways to Preserve and Organize Photos

old photos in a box next to an antique camera

In my December blog post I mentioned that this is a great time of year to organize photos; it is cold outside so we’re spending more time indoors, and we took photos over the holidays, so it just seems to be a good time to organize all these photos.

To be honest, I have photos in various “states” around my house and although they are “organized” they are not safe from fire or natural disaster and I know they are deteriorating as the years pass.  Plus, I am not enjoying or cherishing most of them and isn’t that why I took the photo?  To enjoy looking at the people or the places in the photos.

This post is going to be a very honest and open view into my life, and my current situation.  And my hope is that as I work to make some changes and improvements, you will learn about various options and will find some that you want to use as well.  Staying true to my mission statement to help people make positive changes through organizing their spaces and believing that occasions are best when organized, I can’t wait to see how this will turn out for both of us.

Ok, so let’s do an initial assessment.  What do I have and where is it?


I have lots of photos in albums.  Three per page albums; one per page album; albums that you have to put the photo in the “corners” to hold in place; old “sticky page” albums—basically any sort of album that has been available since the late 1970s. And of course, now I have Google Photo Albums and Facebook photos.  My husband has a couple of albums from his childhood and from BG (Before Gretch—before 1996 when we married).

I never got into scrapbooking or making photo books.  My albums, both the old kind and one’s I have recently created on Google tend to be either event-specific (wedding, trip) or chronological.

Here’s a picture of the shelf where the albums are–everything looks nice and tidy.  BUT do I really ever look at or enjoy these photos?  No, because they are Put Away in an Album in a Closet Upstairs! 

Organized Occasions Albums

And they are certainly not safe from fire, water, tornado.

Plus I remember that out in the garage is a box with albums from when I was in high school (Irving High Class of 1983).  Not sure how long photos will last in a garage in TX but I am guessing they are past their “half-life” and quickly deteriorating.

File Box with Folders:

I have photos in a file box with designated folders, but the photos are just loose in the files and not in any sort of chronological order.

File Box With Folders

For me, I only open this box when I need to add something to one of the folders.  One of the folders is Christmas card photos-family & friends and every year I will add the ones we received that holiday season to this folder.  Also not safe from fire, water, tornado.


Am I the only one that puts a new photo in front of another photo in a frame?  It’s kind of fun to open up the back of the frame and be surprised by the “extras” that come tumbling out–I found a photo of an old boyfriend one time!  It was many years since we had broken up but that photo was still in that frame!  Wonder why I hadn’t just thrown it away???

I do enjoy my framed photos much more!  I have some in my office, some in my bedroom, even a few around the living/dining area.  Most of my framed photos are of my husband and son and of course a few pets!


I have photos in Google Photos from as far back as 2013 and some that were on an old computer and saved from as far back as 2007.  My husband has hundreds more from his phone and camera (as a realtor, he takes lots of pictures!)


How many video cameras have you owned?  I have owned 2.  And probably since our trip to South Africa in 2008, we have not used the camera or looked at any of the tapes since then.  I’m not sure if we have a way to view them at this point.  Again, also not safe from fire, water, tornado.

Box With Tapes

Oh, what a naive and oversimplified idea this was!!  I am feeling a little overwhelmed because of the number of photos/videos we have and the fact I am now in Navarre and the albums are in the house in Texas.  And in Navarre, I am focused on growing my business and concerned that I will have time to tackle a project like this.  And I don’t want to physically move a bunch of albums!  I told you this was going to be a very honest look at the process of organizing photos.

In preparing to write this Blog Article, I reached out to a new friend I had met at a chamber breakfast in Navarre.  Becky Tallman is an ambassador with Forever
717 968-0057

I asked her to write up some information about Forever that I could share on the post.

Becky is very fun and creative!  She came up with a little poem that I need right now and you may too!!!

Pictures, pictures everywhere,
Life is passing in a blink.
Pictures, pictures everywhere,
Time to organize I think!

Today is at least as good
A day as any other,
To work on tagging photos,
There’s my siblings, father, mother.

Digital has spoiled me,
I have too many unseen piles.
If they were all printed out,
I’m afraid they’d stretch for miles.

But 15 minutes can work for me
To sort, delete or tag.
A hard stop exists at 30
So my spirit will not flag.

Forever is the place to be
But still I have to click
15 almost every day
Is a habit that can stick.

I also recently listened to a Podcast on NAPO and the guest speaker was Bonnie Hillman Shay of Mariposa Photo Organizing.  I knew there was a whole group of Professional Organizers that specialize in Photo Organizing—I don’t sense that it will be a specialty for me!  Here is the link to her website if you are interested in getting help or just sending all your photos to her to deal with!  I know it sounds really tempting at this point.

A little more info about Forever by Becky Tallman: 

Organized Occasions Forever image

A new year, a new way to organize!

20/20 is the standard for ideal eyesight.  Here’s how to make 2020 the ideal year for organizing and staying on top of all those digital pictures.
I started out cutting up pictures and putting them in those old magnetic albums.  Then I learned archival lignin and acid-free scrapbooking.  Then came digital photography and a LOT more pictures were taken.  But not printed out.

Fortunately for me, I had already been introduced to digital photo editing and storage and digital scrapbooking.  But they took up a lot of room on my laptop and I had to back them up somewhere and shoot, then my phone was capable of taking pictures as well as my big heavy camera and I always had my phone with me.
The number of pictures I was taking was mounting. What was I going to do?
On the one hand, it was an invisible problem.  Digital pictures don’t take up physical space in a drawer like their predecessors in photo envelopes did.  But they required memory space and external hard drives. What a pain!

But now I’m happy to report that everything is safe and sound in a private digital storage cloud and guaranteed by the Forever Fund.  My pictures are safe, they belong to me in their original resolution and I can access them anywhere I have an internet connection.  I can share them with friends and family and even create online albums for groups like sports teams or mission trips or family reunions to share their pictures with each other.

The company Forever was founded by Glen Meakem in Philadelphia after he discovered there was no good place to store his family’s photos that would be safe, accessible and guaranteed.  As a Gulf War Vet and a successful entrepreneur, he decided to create his own company.
Forever.Com continues to grow and expand services while remaining true to its original mission of providing safe private digital storage.  The design and print shop and other digital scrapbook options are an ongoing bonus.

The company also offers a conversion service.  All those VHS tapes or 8mm film or old family slides can be safely converted to a digital format that can be accessed by anyone you choose.  No more questioning or wondering who has those old family photos and whether or not you can have access to them too.

The best part of Forever though is the ability to connect with a Forever ambassador who can walk you through the steps of uploading and accessing digital images or packing a box for conversion or using those images to create photo books or wall art.  Working in your Forever account just 15 minutes a day can drastically reduce the unnecessary images taking up space and dramatically increase the joy and pleasure received from pictures and the events associated with them.

Where to start? Get in touch and I can set you up with a free 2G account and a $10 coupon towards other Forever products and services.  Let’s make 2020 your year to clearly focus on your photos!
717 968-0057

Plan of Action: SPACE—Sort, Purge, Assign a Home, Containerize, Evaluate.

I am going to follow the same process for my photos and videos as I do with others when helping them to organize their stuff.

Sorting:  For me, most of the sorting has already occurred.  Photos are in albums, boxes, and frames.

Next is Purging, and I am going to start with “the easy stuff”—get rid of the TRASH.  Digital photos will be the easiest to start deleting “bad photos”.  My son and I were talking about how we use our phones to take pictures of things we might need to reference at another time.  His suggestion and I think it is a very good one is to create an “Album” that is just Reference Materials.  You may also decide to create one for “Important Documents” where you store pictures of your Driver’s License, Marriage License, Insurance Cards, etc.

So as I am deleting bad, out of focus, don’t remember what I was trying to take a picture of, photos I will also move any photos that need to go to Reference Materials to this new album.

I am also going to use the tools from Google to enjoy all the digital photos more.  I can select Albums and have them rotate on the Chromecast I have connected to my TV basically turning the TV into a large digital frame!  Isn’t technology wonderful.

Assign a home is the step where I go into my new Forever account and see what I can do in there.  I’ve gotten emails and I saw there were online videos to help me get started.

Once I am comfortable with the process I will start with my loose photos.  I’m not sure how many photos I really have that are just “in a box” when I consider what is in my husband’s office closet and maybe even in the garage.  The final step will be to take the albums off the shelf and one by one scan them and save them.  I know my son would rather “share” an online album than load up a box of albums that he is just going to have to find a place to store them!

Once I get the photos done, then I will tackle the videos (I may have to just send those to someone!!!).

To containerize I can either make printed projects (gift ideas) or share albums digitally.  And of course, I will evaluate the process as I go and circle back to any step that I need more attention.

Feel free to share with me any tips you have on this subject!  And I hope we all will use these “long winter nights” to declutter our digital and physical photo world.

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