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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.