Photo Finish

Preserve your precious memories for posterity.
Laura Alexander and Suzanne Powell

Pictures immortalize the important people, places, and events in our lives. They preserve our family heritage and history. If you have stacks of photos hidden in cardboard boxes or buried in the bottom of a closet, it's time to protect and organize these mementos so that you and others can enjoy them for years to come.

Get Organized
First decide on an organizational system. It doesn't matter how you order photos, as long as the plan makes sense to you. One common method is to organize them chronologically. You could also separate photographs according to the types of events--such as weddings, vacations, birthdays, and holidays. Use an archival-quality pen to write important information on the back of each picture.

 

Storage Solutions
Once you organize your photos, keep them protected by storing them in photo-safe or archival photo boxes. (Prices for these start at about $5.) Buy a separate box for each year or theme, and file your photos away. Store the boxes in a cool, dark closet to reduce the harmful effects of heat and light. Also remember to safeguard negatives. As with prints, exposure to light will cause negatives to deteriorate. In addition, consider taking advantage of digital technology and organizing your photos on CDs. Whether or not you have a digital camera, most photo-processing stores can create CDs of your photos.

Organizing old photos doesn't have to be a chore. Use the opportunity to gather together loved ones to reminisce and share your memories.

Healthy Benefits
Aside from giving you a great sense of accomplishment, organizing your photos has several other remarkable advantages.

  • Sorting through old photos can improve your memory because it stimulates your brain to recall past events.
  • The very act of organizing can relieve stress. When things are in order, it promotes a sense of calm.
  • By sitting down with your children and going through photos from years past, you can educate them about their family history.