Organize Photographs and Negatives

by Doris Donnerman
(last updated November 10, 2016)

Photographs and negatives are wonderful things, since they help us to remember some of the most wonderful and precious moments in our life. The largest problem associated with photographs is that there is no real way to store or organize that is inherent to their use. Basically what this means is that there are so many different ways to store and organize these mementos of our memories, that everyone typically has their own varied way of storing their photographs that is tailored to their personal preferences.

I am always looking for new ways to store and organize my photographs, and here are three of the best tips that I have come across in my search. (Any of these methods is more useful than just stuffing photos into a box.)

  • Write an autobiography. This does not mean that you should go out and write a novel, but it does mean that you should give something along the lines of a descriptor at the start of your photo albums. Such an "autobiography," if you will, can answer a whole lot of questions that you are going to have later on. One suggestion would be to create a sort of table of contents with a list of who, what, and where each picture entails on each page. Another way of using this same idea would be to place a little card at the bottom of each page listing the same information. It could take longer to do this, but it is going to make your album a true keepsake. So, while you are putting together your photo album, make sure to write a little story to go along with each of the 1,000 words that come along with each picture.
  • Preserve and separate. Not all binders or photo albums are created equal. Some have a type of acid in their pages that can slowly destroy any pictures that are stored. That being said, acid-free archival binders are the safest place to store your photographs. So you should always have a few handy. As you sort through all your loose photos, pull out the best and organize them by theme—like vacations, holidays, and birthdays—or by year. In effect, what you are going to be doing is to piece your photo life together.
  • Get positive with negative storage. Probably the single best way to keep all your negatives together, and from getting lost, is to punch holes in the side of the plastic sleeve that they usually come in. While you are doing this you want to, of course, make sure not to punch holes in the negatives themselves. Be sure that you label each sleeve with the date and occasion, at a minimum. In fact, I would strongly suggest that you actually write down all of the same information on the sleeve that you write down in the album itself, and for much the same reason. This way, if you needed to find a specific picture to make a copy of later, you are going to have a much easier time of it. After labeling each sleeve with this information, you are then going to store the plastic sleeves of negatives in a three-ring binder.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...

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