Want to move beyond your deer-in-the-headlights freeze response to your photo collection? The overwhelm that comes from a chaos of unorganized images can be a real road block, preventing you from doing more than fretting about how to deal with them. To help sift through the chaos and begin the process of creating albums from your photo collection, it helps to view your photographs through the lens of themes.
In last month’s column, I introduced the concept of the ABC’s of photo organization. Here’s a quick review: A is for album and the images you want to have in an album or book; B is for box it up or back up; C is for “can” -- toss it in the garbage or delete it from your hard-drive; and “s” is for story -- when an image is part of a larger story, you need to keep it, whether it’s a great image or not.
Using themes will help you to begin the process of organizing and enjoying your images. Here are some examples: your family vacation, camping trips, visits with grandparents and parents, birthday celebrations, Bozeman’s Sweet Pea Festival, your heritage. Scenery. Hobbies. A retrospect of a particular thread in your own life, like the visits I make to the beach with my father.
As you sort stacks of printed photographs or files of images and develop your themes, you can do further work in the “B’s” (Box or Backup) and “C” (Can -- toss or delete) part of the process. Then begin to consider “s,” the story. Does the photograph you’re viewing tell part of the story you’re ready to bring alive? If it does, keep it.
There are five questions that help develop story: who, what, when, where and how? For these basic five, labeling can be done physically on the back of the photo or in a digital photo organizing program. These labels will be the basis for your themes and they will simplify the creating-it portion of your project.
To take your story deeper, here are a few more questions to think about: if the photograph had a title, what would it be? A caption? What’s happening in the photograph? What, if anything, is present just outside the image area of the photograph?
When we cover the basics of how to organize your digital images in next month’s article, you’ll find how the words you use in identifying yours can become keywords in digital photo programs, making it easy for you to find the images you’ll want to use in your book or album. As you choose your themes and get your photos identified, your piles (or folders in the case of digital) will become manageable, and you’ll have an easier time picturing (pun intended) the books and albums that you want to create. Each step of completion creates momentum for the next step. Your first completed book will give you an immense feeling of accomplishment and the inspiration to spur you on to the next theme.
Truly, there’s no time better than now to get your pictures organized and backed up so they will be safe for you and your loved ones. A recent story on a Bozeman home fire brings the why (italicized for emphasis) of making your images a priority even in the midst of your busy life -- “The family was primarily worried about whether any photos were damaged in the house. Everything else is replaceable. . . “.
This article was written with the expert assistance of Aloha Williams