If you're considering beginning to scrapbook your photographs, or if you already scrapbook, you've probably found that organizing your photographs is a necessary evil! If you're like most people, you have shoeboxes overflowing with photos, or developer's envelopes scattered around the house.
So how do you bring order and organization to your photos? First, you'll need to set aside time to organize. It won't get done if you don't set a date and time to do it, so just schedule it in like you would any other appointment, except in this case- you're making an important appointment to organize your memories so that you can easily preserve them later when you make your scrapbooks!
Once you've made a date with your photographs, you'll want to have a few supplies on hand in order to make the organizing process bearable. Go to your local craft store and purchase several photo boxes. They're quite inexpensive, and work wonders at keeping your photographs organized and accessible. When the time comes to sit down and organize, you'll need a place that you can spread out and work uninterrupted for quite some time. First, see if you can locate your most recently developed photographs. It's always easier to start with the most recent, and work backwards. Take the most recent photos that you can find, and place them in one of your photo boxes, right in the front. Now is not the time to look at each individual photo in detail, and try to remember the exact date, time, location, etc. Simply go through your photos and estimate when they were taken, and group them together quickly, placing the more recent ones in the front of your photo box, and working backwards from there. This is a preliminary sorting process.
Once all of your photographs have been placed into your photo boxes in their "almost chronological order", you can take more time to do a more detailed sort. Use index cards to divide sections of photos, and write on each card as much information as you can about the photographs in that section. Include dates whenever possible, locations, events, and names of people in the photographs. If you're going to write on the back of the photograph directly, be sure to use a photo safe marker or pen, as regular ink will eventually damage a photograph. During this detailed sorting process, throw away any poorly taken photographs; the ones where the subjects' head has been cut off, or a thumb was in the way of the camera lens, etc.
The key to photo organization is creating a system to maintain the organization! The preliminary and detailed sorting is time consuming, but once it is completed it is much easier to find specific photographs, and easier to scrapbook since everything is in order. As you get your film developed or your digital photographs printed, maintain your newly organized photo system by immediately filling out an index card with information pertaining to the new photos (or by writing on the backs of each photo), and file the photos in your photo boxes, right in front as they are the most recent. Now, when you have time to scrapbook, you can take out a section of photos and create layouts rather than spend time searching for the photographs you want!