Joyful Downsizing: The ABC’s of Photo Organizing

Kim Kubsch

Everybody has them—those boxes of loose photos that you have moved time and again. Is it time to downsize and preserve your photos once and for all? A good rule is to eliminate 80% of your photos and keep your favorite 20%! That means keep only 20 out of every 100.

What is the best method for organizing stacks of loose snapshots? Start by setting up four temporary containers and clearly label them “A”, “B”, “C”, and “S”. Plastic storage bins, or even cardboard boxes, can work for this.

“A” is for Album

These pictures are the best of the best! Would you mourn the loss of the memories if you lost the photo? These are the photos to digitize, back up, share, and display. As you come across “A” photos, add them to your container.

“B” is for Box

These are those pesky photos that aren’t quite an “A” but that you know you aren’t ready to part with yet. These photos will be archived for safekeeping but not necessarily digitized. Start adding these to your “B” container. I often joke that you can leave a note in your “B” box telling whoever opens it in the future to feel free to toss the photos, because you just couldn’t.

“C” is for Can

Yes, you can throw them in the trash can! Your collection is filled with doubles, triples, and just plain bad photos. If your photo doesn’t fall into one of the previous categories, then it’s a “C” photo. I encourage you to be brutal here and set a goal to fill a garbage can with these! Eliminate many of your scenery, sunsets, and famous travel sites.

“S” is for Story

Does the photo tell a story? These pictures play a significant role, because there is something illustrative about the picture, even though it may not be obvious. Does the photo of your father making a silly face remind you of how he embarrassed you as a teen, but today you would give anything to see that smile again? Those are the “S” photos, the gems within your collection. These photos matter and tell a story. They are worthy of taking time to write down the story in a journal or on a sticky note.

Digitize—convert from print to digital memories

In the event you or your kids prefer digital rather than print memories, invest in a quality scanner. Scanning the photos will greatly reduce the space needed for photo memories. Look for a wireless scanner option with an adjustable tray that allows photos to be fed through the device one after the other. Brother, Epson, and HP all have numerous scanners ranging from $150 to $350.

By keeping the organizing rules simple, you’ll be able to work through your piles of photos quickly while reliving some of those precious memories along the way. Leaving you and your family with a collection of memories that tells your personal story can be easily accessed and enjoyed for years to come.

Call me at 480-720-8566 to learn about my free 30-minute consultation or to speak to your group or event. Or reach me by email at [email protected]. My website is