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how I solved my growing problem - a shoebox full of miscellaneous photos

How I Solved My Growing Problem

Yowza! Today, I’m happier than Pavlov’s dogs when a bell rings.


You see I no longer have a growing problem. While my problem wasn’t life-threatening, biological or sinister in nature it demanded my attention just the same.

Like most problems, ignoring it didn’t make it go away but acted as a catalyst to its increasing growth. Perhaps maybe you have the same problem?

What started as a single shoebox over the years has multiplied like rabbits to several boxes. Fed by vacations, weddings, birthday parties, holidays, graduations and just because moments, what started as a single box has now become a thriving family of four boxes. 

All with their inaudible cries for attention, “Look at me, sort me, organize me and give me an identity.” In some cases, I haven’t looked at these shoeboxes of photos for years. 

I sigh, I’ll start on them tomorrow after all it’s only a day away. Lucky for me, with technological advances the old world of hardcopy photos entered the new world of digital cameras and photography. 

My computer is now equipped with an arsenal of digital tools. I began with one folder. 

It brought back memories of my first shoebox of photos. In fact, in a moment of sentimentality, I named the folder “Digital Shoebox One” just because it felt right.

Over a period of time, like it’s analog counterpart the digital folder grew larger and larger.

From Shoebox To Scanner

At one point, I decided to scan all of those old photos filling up those shoeboxes. Brillant I said to myself, I just needed to scan the pictures and store them on my computer.

I eagerly created a folder and named it “Scanned Photos One” just because. It didn’t take long for me to realize this was a much bigger task than I first thought.

I had no idea how many photos were stored in each one of those boxes. I guessed, each shoebox easily held several hundred photos and although computer space wasn’t an issue my endurance was.

When will I have the time and energy to finish this task?

Making the Cuts

I collected my shoeboxes and gently poured the memories onto the bed. The bed was virtually buried in photographs.

Suddenly it occurred to me I needed some photo organizer skills. I peered over the collection of random photos covering at least two decades of my life. I knew this was going to be a big job.

  • Which photos do I keep?
  • How many slightly different angle shots of the same thing do I really need?
  • What was I thinking when I took those unfocused shots?

I thought to myself they all art but just like my favorite cut of beef I knew I would have to make some serious cuts. They won’t be pretty but they’ll be necessary.

Time To Insert Some Image Management Tips Before You Start Shredding Photos

Okay, you now have a better picture of what I was facing. With my Master’s from the SHU (School of Hardknocks University), I discovered photo organizing is the best way to trim down my shoeboxes of computer files.

I’ll share with you what I did to increase the manageability of my picture files. In doing so I’ll spare you the gnashing of teeth and wailing I experienced.

Let’s assume you managed to scan all of your hardcopy pictures and in addition to your digital photos consolidated them on your desktop.

Here are some tips to help you make sense of the madness.

1 – Image Management Makes Things Easier To Find

Remember the file I named “Digital Shoebox One”? Making use of a photo organizer software you’ll have additional files with names that will help you find pictures more efficiently and faster.

That’s because when you label them “Stuff” and “Stuff One” you have a slight idea of what’s in them. However, it’s not enough to quickly reference a photo you need for a project or to sneak a peek so you can book a seat on a daydream.

With a good filing system in place, you’ll see at a glance where your wife’s bikini photo is you took on your 2016 Hawaii Vacation because it will be in a file labeled “Vacation.”

2 – When You Sort Photos By Date You See Progress As It Happens

Maybe it’s not obvious now, but when you implement a sorting system based on the date the photos were taken something truly magical occurs.

You create a timeline of photos. If the file of photos in that timeline happens to trace a specific project or the happenings of one of your children you’ll see growth and progress captured in your photos.

If you forgot your daughter once had purple hair and it drove you nuts because she was actually a blonde, you’ll be able to relive that anguish all over again thanks to you nifty organizing skills. Forgot when you built that addition onto your garage?

Now you’ll be able to give the insurance company actual proof with an easy to locate photo the day the project started.

3 – When You Are The Photo Organizer You Decide What Gets Cut

Maybe you don’t

  • Really need all 50 shots of the same scene.
  • Need all those joint photos of the Grand Canyon accompanied by part of your finger covering the lens.
  • Need those slightly revealing photos of you after a very looong drinking party.

The beautiful thing about going through and organizing your photo collection is you get to trim the fat, so to speak.

There are some easy ways to find duplicate photos and remove them! You get to delete or edit or file away those photos that should be hidden, destroyed or otherwise trashed.

Besides, blurry photos don’t always capture the kind of action you will want to remember. If you come across photos that cause you to ask, “What the heck is that?” then you know they should be cut.

4 – Sometimes Looking At Old Photos Teaches Us A Few Things

Aside from all those crazy memories that’ll flood back when you sort through old photos, the exercise can also unlock some interesting lessons.

They may not be apparent at the moment but sooner or later you’ll remember certain places are probably best visited without a camera.

Also, you’ll also be able to correlate certain incidents with people in your life. If you tend to find yourself running into the law when you hangout with (fill in the blank with the troublemakers name) then you probably need to find another Wingman.

The opposite is also true. If you find your “happy place” photos tend to result from a specific drink or location you frequent,

then by all means, spend more time focusing on being in those settings and remember your camera when you do.

5 – Use Themes To Get All Artsy-Fartsy With Your Photo Collection

Here’s where the real fun fits into photo organizer time. You may discover some reoccurring themes in your massive – yet edited and somewhat tailored – collection of photos.

For example, if you have tons of photos of rodeo events or flowers or things in the color green or whatever, you can start to sort photos into mini collections based on these different but obvious themes that stand out in your photos. Hey, why not?

It’ll probably tie together some random photos you can’t otherwise find a home for and can’t bear to delete. Also, by using mini themes for grouping photos you may just discover something unusually cool about your collection.

Plus, doing this will fill in many hours on a rainy or snowbound day or week.

6 – An Organized Photo Collection Says A Lot About You

Aside from the fact there are going to be some people who will find your meticulously organized collection of photos somewhat disturbing, there is a lot of pluses to this. A well-organized photo collection says you are artistic, creative, organized, sensible, thoughtful, careful, realistic and dare I say a shoebox full of other complementary adjectives amounting to saying the same thing – you’re an alright sort of person.

It makes you appear as a good job prospect as well as great partner material if you’re not already taken. Naturally, we are not suggesting photo organizing is something to put on your resume but you may be amazed at how that skill can be transferred into other parts of your life.

Once you get your photos all sorted out, you could start doing wacky things like keeping appointments and never missing a deadline to pay a bill. We did say these were wacky things.

One thing an organized photo collection doesn’t say you’re potentially dangerous. Dangerous in that your organizational skills may rub off on others.

Do You Really Need To Change Your Life With Image Management?

Pop Quiz: the photos you took on your vacation. Where are they? Can you locate them in the next 60-seconds?

Sixty minutes? What did you name the file they are under? If you are currently breaking out in a sweat and panic is now working its way through your system then you’ve answered the question.

Get organized and everything else will sort itself out.

About The Author

In 1995, Gerardo Campbell married his now ex-wife Roberta aka the Pretty Lady and became the stepdad to her two children. In 2011, he started the website Support for Stepfathers to reverse the nearly 70% divorce rate for blended families in the United States. His website is to help and inspire stepfathers, aspiring stepfathers and the women who love them worldwide. You can follow Support for Stepdads on Twitter and Facebook.

If there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that time flies with children about. Speak to any parent and they will tell you to cherish every single moment, because they grow up far too soon.

You need to make sure you capture their little faces as they grow, as you will love looking back at the photos – as will they. One day, your great-great-grandchildren may even be flicking through the same set of photos.

It’s really important you do it right, so you create a lasting memory of your child’s precious formative years. Tips that will give your photos a professional look and help create a lasting memory of your child’s precious formative years.

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