ButtonedUp: Do away with photo backlog

While digital cameras and video recorders have become smaller, sleeker and easier to use, they don...
SHNS illustration by Hollie Sehrt and Cindy Rodriguez
Story by Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore
Thu, Nov 11, 2010
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Everyone's ready, ribbons are tied into the hair of your youngest and even the boys have their dress shirts on. Now it's time for the family picture. What's that? Oh, the blinking light indicating your battery is dead or your memory card is full. Yes, it happens to the best of us and it always happens at the worst time. Those pictures clogging up the memory card? They're from last year's Thanksgiving party and that was almost a year ago. We've been there, too.

While digital cameras and video recorders have become smaller, sleeker and easier to use, they don't solve the age-old problem of forcing us to actually organize our photos. If you're still developing film, it's likely that you have a drawer (or two) stuffed with envelopes bursting with prints. Whether your piles are real or electronic, it can be overwhelming when there are so many. Where to start? How to organize? Sure, it can be a bit mind-boggling, but don't give up. With just a little time and energy, you can get your photos shipshape and have some free space next time you're ready for a Kodak moment.

Sarah on "visual displays keep memories and family members alive":

My grandmother and my mother both had walls decorated with photo collages. As a kid, I learned about my family and got to know the stories through those very photos, so it's important to me to pass that along to my kids. I love when they ask who that is or what we were doing. I lost my Mom unexpectedly this year and it's been a really difficult time, but seeing her smiling face on my walls and reliving some of those happy memories has been extremely comforting.

Alicia on "baby steps":

I can get easily overwhelmed by the amount of photos and how to organize and display them, but the trick I have finally mastered is to ditch the perfection. The album doesn't need to be perfect and doesn't need to cover every single lifetime event. Instead, I'll start with a few frames I picked up at the store or a small album for just one event, rather than a whole year.

Three hints for managing the memories:

1. Pick One Project. Don't take on too much. Instead, just pick one project, whether it is a particular time period, event or even a collage for a specific person or room. Just doing that one project helps you get rolling.

2. Give Yourself a Deadline. Make a deadline, and to avoid skipping it, hold yourself accountable by making a promise to someone else and have her check in with you.

3. Schedule Time To Get It Done. It might not seem important to you now, but when you're looking at the photos hanging on the wall or enjoying flipping through the album, you'll be glad that you scheduled time on your calendar to finish the project.

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