Memories…Time to Tackle Photos

Photos, photos,At the end of January, I finally decided to tackle photos, one of the last of the KonMari categories. I know, I know – four months prior I wrote that I was almost finished. And that’s true…I just knew that was not the right time to start. With the holidays behind me, this was the perfect time. And honestly, as far as photos go, half the battle is just figuring out where to start. In addition to my 60-plus photo albums, I had a box full of loose photos and pictures in frames that were tired and needed to be RE-tired. I cleared the dining room table so I’d have a large surface to work on and got busy.

Remove Pictures from Frames First

I knew that I’d be making changes to the photos I wanted to display so I emptied all of the frames first. I kept just a few of the better frames that I knew would coordinate well no matter where I placed them and filled a pretty good sized storage tub with the rest. Off to Goodwill they will go!

Sort Loose Photos

Next up were all of the loose photos that I had. By loose, I mean pictures that weren’t in a photo album for whatever reason. Some were the pictures that I’d just removed from the frames. Some were photos that had been given to me over the years by folks who thought I might want them.  I’d already been through them once last summer, so all I was left with was one photo storage box which didn’t seem so bad – until I started to actually lay out all of the pictures.  It’s hard to believe that what came out of the box in the image on the left resulted in the mass quantity you see in the image on the right.

Believe it or not, those photos are in piles that actually mean something! I had random categories in my head – old family photos, vacations, other people’s children, college, etc. just to give me some way to make sense of them.

Decisions, Decisions

The thing about sorting photos is that you pretty much have to touch every single one of them in order to decide what to do them. And when you start doing that – well, then this happens:

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After taking photos of photos with my phone and texting them to my daughter and family and the friends in those pictures, hours would have passed. So my advice is this – take the time and enjoy it. The whole reason we take (and keep) pictures in the first place is because we want to preserve and enjoy those memories. So enjoy the trip down memory lane. Just know that that detour, like any other, is going to cost you time.

I handled every single loose photo and discarded a lot of them – dozens. And I feel good about that. Of what was left, some were returned to the album they had originally come out of, some were set aside to be framed as part of a family collage I want to make, and the others went back into the photo box. Although, as you can see, that box is less than half as full as when I started.20170219_162010

How you decide on which photos to keep is, I believe, highly personal. Some people don’t want to keep photos where they don’t look their best. Others might want all traces of a certain memory (whether that be a person or event, good or bad) gone completely. Only you can make that decision. I kept what I wanted, closed up the box, and put it on a shelf with the photo albums.

Next Steps

Logically speaking, my photo albums should come next in this process. Full disclosure – as committed as I am to the KonMari process, Kondo and I differ mostly when it comes to photos, not only in the process but in what you should keep. If you truly KonMari your photos, you will take every single one of them out of their respective albums so that you can handle each one to determine whether it really needs to be kept or not.  Folks, I have over 60 albums. We are talking THOUSANDS of photographs. I am not doing this. Not because I don’t have the time but because I just don’t want to.  It’s not that important to me at this time to reduce the number of photo albums I have. That is not to say that sometime down the road I might not revisit this but for now, the number of photo albums doesn’t bother me near as much as the number of t-shirts we once had in this house so I’m okay with keeping them.

What I did do, however, was date them on the inside cover so that I can easily see what time period they are from, as not all of the photos have a date stamp on them. (Remember that? What a way to ruin a beautiful photo.) And I have a few albums that I am going to have to take apart because the adhesive has dried up and the pictures are falling out. I have those set aside to work on at another time. I might save them for the triple-digit heat days this summer when it is just too darn hot to leave the house!

Going Forward

Taking photos digitally whether it is with a real camera or your phone has made it so much easier to take lots and lots of pictures but not all of them need to be saved or printed. So these days when I do decide to print photos, I am much more judicious so that I don’t end up with a lot of photos that aren’t worthy of display either in a frame or an album. And I’ve become quite fond of making digital photo books using the various services that are out there. The great thing about those is that you typically only choose the best photos. And even if you choose a hard bound book, they take up a lot less space. So even if I haven’t stuck to KonMari in my old photos, I am keeping her principles in mind as I go forward with new ones.

Working through the process over the last two years, I am much more attuned to what brings me joy. It is not uncommon for me to look at an article of clothing or an accessory that I kept after the initial purge and decide just in that moment that it’s not doing it for me anymore.  I don’t agonize over those decisions as I would have before I discovered KonMari. So it is entirely possible that I will revisit the photo albums at a later date. And I apologize to anyone who came to this blog hoping to hear how I tackled those but I promise, when/if I choose to go through that process, I will detail it here.

But the point I want to make is this – don’t bully yourself into getting rid of anything, photos included, that you don’t want to. That is not the intent of the KonMari process at all. The idea is to surround yourself only with the things that mean the most to you so that you enjoy them and do not feel burdened by them. Slowly but surely, I am getting there – and you will too.

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Ditching the Digital Clutter 3: Photos

Ditching the Digital Clutter 3-I am willing to bet that we have more photos stored than any other type of file. Gone are the days when you were more judicious about what you took a picture of because you only had so many pictures left on the roll – or flashes left on the bulb.  You might have even been mindful when using your digital camera depending on how much device and SD card storage you had.  But with today’s smart phones, our cameras are with us 24/7 – and we use them almost as often.  Most times, I don’t even use the camera to take a picture of something beautiful, or a person, or an event. I take a picture of a book cover to remind me of a book I want to read later, or of a review in the newspaper of a hamburger joint I might want to try, or a price sign in the store of an object I might want to buy – just not at that moment.  I have a ton of these types of photos using up my device or SD card or cloud space.  Yes, they’re convenient to have, but I don’t  want to save them for posterity. How many bad selfies do you have saved?  Or multiple photos of the same shot just to be sure you got a good one?  Rainbows?  Fireworks?  The reality is, we have a lot of junk photos taking up a lot of valuable storage space.  Since I don’t want to buy extra space, I’m going to have to devote some time to culling the photos and deciding what really needs to stay.

Start with Incidental Photos First

These are all those junk photos that I mentioned above, the ones you need just for a short time.  How and where you store your photos will determine how you go about discarding them.  I have my phone set to back-up to Google Photos automatically, which is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s great in that my photos are safe should I lose or damage my phone.  It stinks because ALL of them are backed up, even the junk ones.  Find the storage location that will allow you to delete a photo just once, yet also remove it from both cloud and device storage.  That will help cut down on the amount of time you are devoting to this tedious task.

Delete Multiples

Do you really need five shots of the family posing in front of that waterfall?  Or three shots of your dog sleeping on your lap?  Or all the dozens of photos you took of your grandchild opening every single Christmas present?  Probably not.  Choose the best ONE in front of the waterfall.  Unless the dog’s sleeping on your lap is unusual, you probably don’t need any of those (but I won’t judge you for keeping one).  And try to whittle event photos (Christmas, birthdays, vacations, etc.) down to the fewest possible. Keep the best ones, the ones that capture the moment and the emotion that you truly want to remember –  the ones that bring you joy.

To Print or Not to Print?

If you are of a certain age, you are probably still printing out photos and placing them in photo albums, or at the very least, using a service like Shutterfly to make photo books. But I couldn’t tell you the last time my 23-year-old daughter printed out a photo.  Yes, digital photos are convenient, but I just don’t get that same feeling as I do from going through a photo album.  But printing is going to be a personal preference; I still do it.  And then I painstakingly put them into albums and caption the photos. If you’re not likely to go to that trouble, then just stick with your digitized ones.

Photo Files on Your Computer

In addition to whatever you have on your phone and/or in the cloud, you probably have photos stored on your computer as well.  If you deleted photos you didn’t want when we worked on files, you are one step ahead!  If not, now is the time to go through all those pictures and discard the ones you don’t want or need.  If you have a lot of photos, it might be a good idea to sort them into separate folders – you can create folders based on date, event, subject matter – whatever makes sense for you.  You’ll want to back these up as well, but image files tend to take up a lot of space.  If you don’t want to use precious cloud storage, upload your photos to a site like Shutterfly or even Walgreen’s.  Those are great options if you intend to make prints, but even if you don’t, your photos are always there. (Of course, you will need to create an account.)

Finished!

Tackling your digital clutter is every bit as time-consuming as tangible clutter.  And it is easier to accumulate because it doesn’t take up any physical space – which also means it is easier to rebound and find yourself in the same mess.  So be sure you stay on top of your digital life.  Clear out e-mails on a weekly basis, dump old unnecessary files every few months, and try to handle your photos almost as soon after you take them as possible.

So, what’s next?  If you’re a teacher, my next post will be for you – KonMari in the Classroom. Don’t miss it!