I was recently asked, "Where do I start? I have so many photos and it all seems overwhelming." I know that I get asked this several times a month so I decided that I would post a little about organizing photos and getting started with putting them into albums.
First, locate all of your photos and get them into one place. Don't laugh and say that they are all together, if they were then you wouldn't be reading this post. If you are ever going to do anything with these photos, you have to have them all together and organized so that they are easily accessible.
Second, decide how you want to sort them. What albums do you want? One for each child, one for the family, one for each event or vacation? I personally recommend doing one album for each child, including family layouts in each one. The remaining instructions will deal with sorting your photos in this manner.
Third, purchase photo storage boxes for each of your children and one for family. I know, I said that we aren't doing a family album but we still need this box. If your photos are still on the computer and not yet printed, then make a folder for each child and one for your family.
Fourth, start sorting your photos into these boxes/folders. If the picture is of two children, put it in family. If it's of a birthday party, put it with the child that it belongs to. Christmas? Put it in family. Do this for all of your photos. Any photos of your extended family will go with your family photos. I will tell you what to do with those in a bit.
Fifth: Take you family photos box and sort into two piles. One pile will contain your extended family, the other will contain your immediate family photos. Take the immediate family photos and decide which that you would like to scrapbook. You can do this by keeping the ones that evoke the most memories for you. If you have strong memories of that time, your children probably do too. With the remaining photos, look to see if there are any that really jump out at you as just great photos. Take all of the ones that you kept and make copies for each of your children. The ones that you decided didn't need to go into scrapbooks can go into a photo album in case you ever decide that you really like a particular photo.
Sixth: Now take the copies that you had made and sort into each of your children's boxes. Take the remaining extended family photos and decide which of those that you would like for your children to have. Try to be sure that you get a photo of each of their great grandparents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. Any photos of cousins are great too. Take these and make copies of these for each of your children and sort into their boxes.
Seventh: Now that you have your photos sorted by children, it's time to dive right into the boxes and put the photos into order. This requires a bit of thought if you haven't dated the backs of any photos. They don't have to be perfect but you do want them pretty close. You can use clues in the photos to help with this. Look at things like the drapes and wall paper, when did you have those? Also look at clothing styles, cars, etc. Each of these things can help to trigger your memory and give you an approximate time frame in which the photo was taken. It's best to start by dividing into baby, toddler, early elementary, older elementary, junior high, high school, etc. Once you have these piles, go through each pile and sort into order. Use the dividers that came with your photo storage boxes to help you put these into the box in order. If you remember any detail about the photos, write the info onto a small piece of paper and put it with the photos into the box. If you have quite a few photos from one event, put them into ziploc bags or photo sleeves all together along with the info about the photos. Try to list each person in the photo if you can.
Eighth: Once you have sorted each of your children's boxes, you are ready to get started with scrapbooking your photos. I personally recommend doing the most current things first, working backwards. This way the memories are the most fresh in your mind and you can share the stories more completely. You can set a goal to do one ancient layout for each current layout that you do. This way, you will be able to stay up on your current photos and one day catch up on your older ones. That being said, I myself do not always abide by this. Another good way to get things scrapbooked is to go through and get out each of your Halloween (or any other holiday) photos and scrapbook those. Do one layout for each year, putting any extra photos that you do not use in the album into a photo album. If your child is 7, this may not take too long. If your child is 17, it may seem to take forever. If you have an older child and want to scrapbook each year, you may want to do two to three years on one layout. You could even do one photo from each year onto one layout.
Don't try to complete one child's album before you start the next, you'll never start the next album. Do a little for child one, then for child two, etc. You might even get one or two of your children so interested that they decide to do their own scrapbook, letting you off the hook a little. I find it easier to use one paper pack and matching embellishments to complete my projects. Not only do I save money by not buying things that I may not use, I also work quicker because I am not hunting down cardstocks to match my papers and embellishments to match my cardstocks. I also use CTMH how-to books to help me create great looking layouts in much less time.
Need to know what to purchase? Assuming that you already have tools, start with a how-to book (my personal favorite is Cherish), a great paper pack, stickease and an extra embellishment or two. One paper pack will allow you to complete at least 3 two-page layouts and by adding a little cardstock you can create even more. The stickease add great accents to your pages and are coordinated with the papers. If you feel especially creative, you may want to add a stamp set as well. By adding a few extra embellishments such as brads, eyelets or ribbons you can make your layouts look like you have been scrapbooking forever. Our new Workshops on the Go kits are great for beginners because they actually teach great techniques and the layouts are simply beautiful. I look forward to working with you as you record the memories of your family for future generations.