The Aliyah Files #32: 5 tips for downsizing photos from the pre-digital photo era

In the pre-digital era of photos, you may recall dropping off rolls of film to the nearest photo processing establishment and eagerly anticipated their return, hoping that pictures weren’t blurry or otherwise disappointing. These long-ago prints are now stockpiled in envelopes, bags, drawers, boxes, and albums. If the mere thought downsizing this collection CAUSES ANXIETY, don’t worry, here are some TIPS to assist you with this task.

  1. If you’re beginning to downsize your home DON’T START WITH PHOTOS. Begin with a more neutral category like toiletries or kitchenware. Once you’ve gotten used to paring down a category that carries less emotional attachment than memories, you’ll have strengthened your decision-making skills only then you’re ready for Step #2.
  2. Practice downsizing photos by deleting some digital photos. Once you feel confident about deleting digitally, then move on to the prints.
  3. Throw out photos that are blurry, unflattering, associate bad memories, you dislike them, have too many of the same subject, don’t recall the subject, or doubles. There is no “rule” saying “keep every photo you ever took.”
  4. Label the back of the photos with a photo-safe pencil. Write an approximate ‘what, where, and when’ such as “Karen, circa 1975, Grandma’s house in Milwaukee”. This will help you recall the details of the photo. *Note: For vintage black-and-white photos, write the information on a sticky note or other paper.
  5. Store the photos in a archival photo-safe box. Be consistent in the the brand and size you purchase, as it makes for an organized look. The two link I added are from a highly reputable company called Created Memories, of which I have personally used, but there are other fine products out there for all budgets.

When I was in the process of making aliyah, I used these steps. It was so freeing to get rid of all the excess photos as well as KEEP ONLY WHAT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER. I kept select photos of memorable events, but not every photo that I ever took nor was in.

Little Karen, approximately age 4

These 5 tips are a good first step in tackling your photos. I’m not going to discuss making albums or digitalizing, as these are more time-consuming ventures, and recommended only for those who are motivated to do so. Also, a rule of thumb, in the famous words of Marie Kondo, the world-famous home organizer from Japan, “If it doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it.”

This is a PROCESS. Do it in short blocks of time. Power sorting isn’t recommended unless you want to, as it can be overwhelming.

Additional note: if you think friends or relatives may be interested in some of the extra photos, put them in pre-labeled photo mailing envelopes for hard-copies, or take a digital photo and send electronically. For the sake of time, don’t focus on redistributing anything, just consolidate and sort what you’ve got and what you are keeping for yourself.

If you need support in your downsizing efforts, feel free to reach out and CONTACT ME. #BeenThereDoneThat


Published by Karen Furman

Philosophy = Your home should be organized so you know where things are, to the degree that you feel relaxed and not stressed in your space. Method = A combination of Marie Kondo + FlyLady + my own style. YOU make the decisions. YOU decide what to keep and not to keep. I help provide clarity. Attitude = Positive, enthusiastic, non-judgmental

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