Project: Memory Wave – Save your Photographs

I’ve been (recently) taking my little Scan-a-thon farther, and scanning in all of my photos.

It’s not really that I want to get rid of ALL of my photos per se, but I wanted to keep a digital copy (just in case.. fire and water damage, you know), and I wanted to only keep the photographs that mean the most to me.

I also wanted to make sure I got the old photos in there before they faded away in time.

I decided to take the Wave approach, by sorting them in what I ended up calling waves with a focused goal in mind at each wave.

Wave #1: Sort & Destroy the duplicates

(I am such a geek…. did you catch that? All your base are belong to us.)

This was… not such a bad task.

I spent a lot of time reminiscing, showing BF pictures of me as a baby and a little girl and so on. It was kind of fun.

I sorted them with only this criteria in mind: Group together & get rid of the duplicates.

I had a LOT of duplicate photos. This was back in the day before digital cameras, so when we printed photos, we printed 3 sets of each photo roll.

What a headache.

Once I was done, I had trimmed down the stack almost by 35%.

Wave #2: Sort into major categories with a rough timeline

This was a bit trickier for my mind to wrap around. I wanted to sort them in a way that it would make sense to me (or in an album) and in some sort of chronological order.

I thought about it, and decided on sorting them by:

Dates (Not exact dates, more like “Around 5 years old”, “High School”, “College”

Events (Birthdays, Christmases, Vacations)

Then within each category of “College + Birthdays”, I arranged the photos so that they were sorted by each birthday.

Wave #3: Start scanning & as you’re doing it, toss the uglies

I scanned them all in. Mass scanning.

Sat in front of my scanner, popped in some addictive Law and Order: Criminal Intent and scanned 4000 photos.

I haven’t gone through THOSE scans yet, but at least I have them.

I scanned 4 or 5 photos per round, and since they were already sorted by Date and Events from Wave #2, I won’t have to hunt and peck for similar photographs.

This was decidedly the most boring part of the task, but I was just NOT willing to fork over $200 to pay someone else to do it for me.

HALE NO! Fugg that. I be scanning them myself, thankyouverymuch.


As I was scanning, I also re-evaluated the photos after they were scanned, and started chopping down the pile by another 30% to have a “final” batch of photos that I am going to keep physical copies of.

Anything of me as a kid from the age of 10 and below was an automatic keep.

Any older, and it was a bit easier to keep just 6 photos of my 16th birthday instead of 25.

Wave #4: Find the right photo albums

This was the step that was the hardest for me.

To find out how many photo albums you need, you need to count your photographs.

But count them by Date & Event!!!

You DO NOT want to run into a situation where you put in your 15th birthday, and you just have 3 photos left over that you CANNOT toss, that will have to go into another photo album and leave blank spots all over the place.

I wanted a cute photo album (silk cover), with a lot of space, and with acid-free plastic pockets.

I was hemming and hawing over the idea of scrapbooks but decided they were too much work and would cost me a fortune in the end.

My other option was to buy those sticky plastic flap photo albums that you pull over the photos like plastic wrap after you arrange them, because it’s a lot easier to arrange photos that are portrait style (upright) instead of forcing them into landscape style (horizontal) pockets.

But can I find these easily? Not really. So I was stuck at this level for a while.

Wave #5: Arranging the Photos & Making Notes

I had 2000 photos in the end, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but is a huge amount for me especially with how much I got rid of in the end.

I sorted them into piles that roughly ended up being:

– Before I was born
– When I was born until the age of 7
– Age of 7 to end of Grade 8
– High school
– College
– After college (not many here, they’re all digitized now)

I grouped events together (birthdays and vacations), and since I had counted the number of photos within each category, I could easily group together those piles and not have any spill over into another album.

I arranged the photos with some of them portrait style beside landscape styles on the same page, and tried to do it in chronological order of how it would have happened at that event.

I also made detailed notes in shorthand on the sides to help me jog my memories before I get too old and the memories are long gone!

Have you done anything similar?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.