If you’re like most people, you’re probably sitting on thousands of digital photos that you’ve taken but never printed — and therefore are not likely to enjoy down the road. And, if you’re like most people, the thought of getting those photos into some sort of manageable, enjoyable format is probably a little overwhelming to think about.
You know need to get them off your phone, but the thought of going through the process of doing so — and keeping up with it — well, that’s where the sense of overwhelm sets in.
Don’t worry. Over the next four weeks, I’ll share four simple methods you can use to escape this sense of photo overwhelm. For each, I’ll share the pros and cons of the method, plus how to get started and some tips for success.
If you’re in a hurry to hear the details about all four methods right now, hop over to the free on-demand master class, “Four Simple Ways to Escape Photo Frustration by Doing Something With Your Photos—Starting Today!” available for you to watch at your convenience.
So, let’s get started.
Method #1: Printing your photos and storing in boxes
The main pro for this method is that your photos are printed! Once they’re off your phone, you can avoid losing them due to a technological failure, such as the death of your phone or external hard drive, or the theft or loss of your phone.
By printing your photos, you know you will have them for the long haul. Yes, there is always the threat of fire or flood, which could destroy your prints, but having printed copies eliminates the more common threats caused by aging technology.
The biggest con for this method is the fact that most people don’t pull out those boxes of photos in order to enjoy them.
I am guilty of this myself. While I love having boxes of printed photos, I can’t remember the last time I pulled those boxes off the shelf for the single sake of enjoying my photos. I’d like to think that some day, though, I will, and I am glad I printed those photos!
Still, the point of printing photos is so that you can enjoy them again. For this reason, I don’t recommend that this be your ONLY method of doing something with your photos.
- Writing names and dates on the backs of photos, or even on cards that divide and group the photos inside the boxes, can be tiring. So some people never do it..
- Not having names and dates — much less, memories — written down to accompany the photos means that those photos risk becoming meaningless over time. If future generations don’t know who is in the photos, when the photos were taken, or why the photos were meaningful at the time they were taken, they’re not likely to be meaningful in the future. In fact, they will eventually end up being a box of photos of nameless people that simply takes up space in a closet. They’ll eventually be thrown away.
To get started
Despite the cons, there is a time and a place for this method. I personally like to print photos as part of my photo-preservation process. But I’m picky about how many I print. We’ll get to that in the tips-for-success section.
If you choose to print your photos, keep two things in mind:
- First, choose your printer wisely. The quality of the prints matters, and there is a big difference between cheap prints and quality prints. Two of the most noticeable differences are visible in the color and clarity of the photos. One of the less noticeable, but equally or more important, differences, is in how long the photos will last. Ideally, you want an archival print that will last for generations. I recommend using a printer that uses a digital darkroom process, where the photos are developed onto photo paper — rather than a printer that simply prints ink onto the surface of shiny paper.
I recommend and use PersnicketyPrints.com as a high-quality — but reasonably priced — photo printer. It uses a digital darkroom process, and it actually promotes that you can spill a soft drink on your photos, and they will not be ruined! I haven’t tried that myself, but I can speak to the quality of the prints, color and clarity. I have never been disappointed by my Persnickety Prints prints.
- Second, store your photos in archival-safe boxes. Avoid storing them in plastic boxes or standard cardboard boxes. You want acid-free, archival-safe storage containers that will not leak chemicals into your photos over time.
I recommend and use the storage boxes available at ArchivalMethods.com. They are heavy-duty, sturdy boxes that are designed specifically for photo storage. They also have metal-reinforced edges that protect the boxes from collapsing under the weight of other (heavy) boxes full of photos. I absolutely love them!
Tips for success
If you choose to go this route, here are a few ways to keep the process simple and manageable.
- Don’t try to print every photo you take. You’ll instantly be overwhelmed. It will cost a fortune. You will feel behind from the very first time you tackle the project. And no one will ever go back and look at hundreds of thousands of photos. (Think about how many photos are on your phone right now. How long did it take you to amass that many photos? Multiply that by how many years you expect to live. That’s bound to be a TON of photos!)
- Come up with a system you can stick to. The key with this project is not to get behind. Once you do, you’re increasingly likely to never get back on course. So make it a priority to tackle this chore every month, and come up with a system to keep track of the photos you have printed and the ones you have not. For example, tuck a small calendar into your current photo box, and mark off the months as you print.
- Write down names, dates and memories as you go. As mentioned before, if you don’t include the details, your photos will become meaningless over time. Take a few minutes each month to jot down at least the basics for your photos. You don’t have to write on the back of every single print. Include your notes on acid-free paper, and tuck them in your photo box, next to the photos they describe.
- Use acid-free supplies for labeling. It’s important to use acid-free paper — and even acid-free markers or pens — to jot down your notes if you want your photos and notes to stand the test of time. The acid in regular paper and writing utensils can seep into your photos and change their color or cause additional damage over time. It’s worth grabbing some acid-free supplies from the scrapbooking section of your local Hobby Lobby, Joann or Michaels stores to be sure you photos and notes will last forever.
Finally, a recommendation: I use and recommend an app called Persnickety Box for this portion of my photo-preservation project. Persnickety Box is a mobile app that accesses your camera roll and makes printing photos from your phone super easy. Each month, you get a new virtual box, which will hold 30 photos. You choose your favorite 30 photos from the month, drop them into your box, and Persnickety Prints (that company I mentioned earlier) will automatically print and ship the photos to you in a keepsake box.
I love this method, because:
- it forces me to choose just 30 photos to print (rather than the hundred or more that I am sure to have taken during the month)
- it reminds me to tackle this project every month, so I don’t get behind.
So that’s all for method 1, printing and storing your photos in boxes. Come back next week for another simple method: Method 2, printing your photos and slipping them into pocket pages.
And again, if you just can’t wait to learn about your other options, be sure to catch the on-demand master class, “Four Simple Ways to Escape Photo Frustration by Doing Something With Your Photos—Starting Today!”