The Great Photo Purge Challenge: Printed Photos Week 1 Update | From Overwhelmed to Organized: The Great Photo Purge Challenge: Printed Photos Week 1 Update

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Great Photo Purge Challenge: Printed Photos Week 1 Update

Welcome back to the Great Photo Purge Challenge!  July was all about digital photos.  We took a break from the challenge in August and now we're back in September to tackle printed photos.

This month I've decided to break the posts into 2 parts.  On Mondays I will update you on my progress from the last week and share some of the lessons I learned.  And on Tuesdays I will give you tips so you can continue on in the challenge too.  That way the posts won't be as long!

If you missed any of the posts from earlier in this challenge, or want a quick refresher, here they are:

My progress this week

After gathering all my photos together from all over the house, I decided the best place to start was with my loose photos.  In last week's post I showed you pictures of what I was dealing with.  It wasn't pretty.  Remember these lovely "before" pictures?

Tons of loose photos that needed to be purged and organized!  Ready to see what I did this week?  I'm pretty excited to share my progress!

Here you go!

I purged nearly 1000 pictures!!  I'm still in shock myself.

{I didn't count them all... I didn't feel like I needed to be that accurate... but I counted 100 photos and then made stacks of similar height... and had nearly 10 full stacks... so exciting... and much quicker than counting!}

It took me several hours, but it feels SO good to purge all of these loose pictures.

In the bottom of the "before" bin pictured above, I had a photo box with envelopes that I'd roughly sorted by date last summer (all those envelopes you see in the box above).  It was packed full and there were still other pictures that I hadn't sorted.

Aaaaannnd... Here's what my photo box looks like now!

It's nearly empty!  In fact it's mostly just the cardboard dividers.  The only pictures I kept were a few special photos that were given to me by other people.

{I kept the sticky notes with years on them for now... once I decide what to do with these pictures and any others I take from photo albums, I'll make proper labels.}

Aside from this box, I have a few envelopes with pictures I want to scan.

These are mostly larger sized photos and portraits that I won't likely be displaying anymore.  By scanning them I can keep a digital copy of the photo to look at or include in digital albums, but I don't need to keep the large printed one.  And I can always choose to print these later if I ever want to display them again.

I also have a few envelopes of pictures that I set aside to give to each of our families.

These were mostly doubles that were originally intended for them, but I don't know if they ever received them.  They don't have to keep them if they don't want to {I don't want to just pass off my clutter to them!}.  But if nothing else I thought they may like to look at some of the pictures.

I also have one last envelope with pictures I received from my mom that I'd like to keep but I need to check the dates before I file them.

Oh, and I kept a small stack of duplicate photos of my kids to use in their baby books, school memory books, etc. {I can't quite let go of those projects, so after this challenge is completed I'm going to give myself a deadline, and, if I don't finish them by then, I will get rid of everything I haven't used or completed.  In the meantime... I figured there was no point throwing away pictures I can use and then have to spend money printing them again when I do these projects.}

What kinds of pictures I purged

So you're probably wondering what kind of pictures are in the big stack.  Glad you asked!  Here's a list of some of the types of pictures I purged:

  • Blurry pictures I love that with digital cameras we don't have to deal with printed pics that are blurry anymore!  But some of my loose pictures were from before we had a digital camera and there were some blurry ones in the mix.
  • Pictures with non-flattering faces or expressions You know those ones where you're caught eating or turning your head away?  I tossed those.  
  • Duplicate pictures I can't believe how often we printed double sets but didn't give away some of the extras!
  • Pictures of places we stayed on vacation or scenic views when we traveled. Sometimes these were just taken to show friends and family upon our return, but they don't hold a lot of meaning anymore so they don't need to be kept.
  • Pictures of people we are no longer close to  I kept some pictures if someone in our family was in the picture with that person, but not ones that were just pictures of people we no longer see.  {Note:  This category could include family members' former spouses or significant others who are no longer part of the family.  Or people from your own past that you no longer want to keep photos of.  Use caution though if you're dealing with photos of your child's parent if you're no longer together.  They may want some of those photos someday.}
  • Photos of former colleagues  If I'm still in touch with them then I don't really need photos to remember them by and if I'm not still in touch with them then we probably weren't that close and I don't really need to keep photos of them in my collection.
  • Pictures of other people's kids  Think school photos sent in Christmas cards.  I love to see these every year, but I don't really need to keep all of these forever.
  • Photos we took of some of our gardens or home renovation projects  It was nice to see these again, and I'd forgotten what some things looked like before, but I don't need to keep them any longer.
  • Photo Christmas cards  I'd been keeping these because they are photos, but since I previously decided that I don't have the space to keep every Christmas card ever sent to us, I really should apply that to photo cards as well.  So, in general, I'll enjoy them when they are received and will sometimes keep a few on the fridge for awhile afterwards, but then purge them.
  • Photos that we had digital copies of  This was by far the largest pile of purged photos.  Some of the photos I sorted through were from my pre-digital camera years, but once I got to the pictures that I had digital copies of, it was much easier to purge them.  I'm still working my way through purging my digital pictures (remember at the end of July I still had 24,000 digital photos?!), but my eventual goal is to have better organized digital albums on my computer so I can view our photos easily that way.  Or on our digital photo frame.  So I don't keep loose printed photos that I already have digital copies of.  

Note:  you don't necessarily have to purge the same kinds of photos as I did.  Your decisions of what to keep and what to throw out may be different.  But these choices worked for me.  

You can see in the above photo that I also have a small pile of recycling as a result of all this purging.  Mostly old envelopes.  And I have a bit of garbage because I purged a few sets of negatives and 1 photo CD after I loaded the pictures from the CD onto my computer.  

I still have a stack of CD's to go through, but I will likely be able to purge most of them, now that I back up my digital photos on an external hard drive.  I'm going to look into transferring some of my negatives to digital pictures and then I can purge them too.  

But I'm very happy with my progress this week!

Lessons learned this week

1.  It's hard to throw out printed pictures, because you paid to get them printed.  It feels like a waste of money to throw them away.  But I realized that the money's already been spent, and I won't be getting any of it back by hanging onto the pictures.  It's like with any de-cluttering decision.  I just need to move on.  And make better choices in the future.  Thankfully with digital photos, it's a little easier to spend less money on printed pictures.

2.  It was fun walking down memory lane with some of these pictures, but we don't have the time to do that on a regular basis, or the space to store all those pictures.  Keeping only the really special ones will make it easier to enjoy them in the future.  

3.  I feel lighter, having purged so many photos.  I thought it would be difficult, and I'm sure there will be difficult decisions in the weeks to come, but this week was freeing.  

4.  Going through photos takes time and I had to make quick decisions.  I spent most of Saturday (off and on) tackling these photos.  As the day progressed I got better at deciding, which I find happens with most organizing projects.  {I won't always have that kind of time to spend on my photos but I took advantage of it when I could this weekend!} 

Well, that about wraps up my week in the photo challenge!  Come back tomorrow to see how you can participate in the challenge this week and get tips to help you purge your photos too.  In the meantime, if you haven't gathered all your printed photos in one place, you can do that so you're ready!

Here are all the posts in the series.

How many printed photos do you have?  What kinds of photos do you plan to purge?  Which photos do you think will be the most difficult for you to part with?

Happy organizing!

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