• Anne Alagna

Organize Printed Photos by Sorting and Sifting

You are sitting at the kitchen table with a box of photographs in front of you, intent on getting them into some type of usable form.


You have many more boxes after this one.


What even are you doing?


You are overwhelmed by the stacks in front of you with no clear idea of how to move forward. You toy with different ideas. Should you dump all the boxes out on the table and dive into the project, you'll figure it out as you go along, won't you? Maybe you should sort them into piles of black and white vs. color. Perhaps you should look at each photo until you remember what year it was taken so you can mark the back with the date and event details before you move on to the next one.


Wow. This sounds like a lot of work. This uncertainty is probably why you haven't started this before, and these photos are still in the same mess they've been for so many years. How will you tackle this daunting project?


Sort and Sift


Sort and Sift is a way to quickly organize your photos into piles that likely go together by using quick actions that don't require a lot of detail work.


How to Sort and Sift:


1. Sort your media types: Start by taking out anything that isn't a photograph. Negatives, slides, memorabilia, take it out and set it aside for later. Right now, we need to deal with the photos.

2. Sift your photos into piles: Turn your pictures upside down. No, really, hear me out. Turn your photos over, so you aren't distracted by the images.


  • Sort them by common size and shape.

  • Then sort them by edge treatment or corner rounding.

  • Then further sort your piles by paper manufacturer watermark.

  • Flip them over and sort them by the depth of color distortion, year marks in the corners, or digital dates printed on the fronts.

  • Finally, sort them by event or theme so that, for example, all winter holiday photos from 1975 are in a different pile than all spring holiday photos from 1975.


Wow! Look at your progress!


You have narrowed down your photographs into like photos from similar timeframes and are well on your way to completing this project!


For more specific information on SIFTING PHOTOS, this article on The Photo Managers by Adam Pratt is an excellent resource.


If you get stuck or need some one-on-one guidance, click here to schedule a call with me where you can ask me any questions you need to get back on track.




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