What You Need to Do to Conquer Photo Clutter


The last time millions of people were asked to stay home, WWI was nearing its conclusion and Americans enjoyed pastimes like silent movies and radio. Today, as millions of people find themselves sheltering in place, how lucky to have television, the internet, streaming media, smartphones, and endless high- and low-tech hobbies to stay occupied. There’s plenty to do, even with restaurants, shops, libraries, entertainment venues, and cultural attractions closed in many communities! 

In challenging times, it helps to see the silver lining – and speaking of silver, gelatin silver may be the process used to print many of the old black and white photos you have laying around. You know, the stacks of old family photos you’ve been meaning to organize for the last decade or so. And you likely also have old color snapshots and slides gathering dust in shoeboxes that you’ve been meaning to scan. We’re guessing you also have thousands of digital photos that need culling and organizing. While digital images don’t cause physical clutter, they can create a storage nightmare on devices. Now is as good a time as any to catch up on projects – and experts say staying productive can help quell restlessness and alleviate stress during stressful times

A Step-by-Step Guide to Decluttering

The best way to organize photos is to cull them first, then decide what to do with the keepers. Start by creating simple steps or rules you know you’ll follow when sorting through your old photos. The first one harkens back to those second set of free prints and the fact you never shared them, despite having the best intentions! 


  • Discard all duplicates unless you’re absolutely certain someone else wants them. This also includes photos that are nearly identical – select the best one from the group and throw out the rest.


  • Throw out blurry, unflattering, and poorly exposed photos, or those taken for temporary purposes. 


  • Organize photos in a timeline (by date) for easy retrieval. You can also organize photos by events or subject/location. For example, if you visited NYC four times during a period of 10 years, you would label them NYC with the date of your visit and store them chronologically.


  • Many people associate photos with meaningful moments in their lives. Undeniably, photos represent cherished memories, experiences, people, and feelings. But that doesn’t mean you should keep every photo you ever took and cling to the past! The one exception would be vintage photos of your ancestors. Even so, you should resist the temptation to keep all of them, unless you only own a handful. 

Decide What Photos to Digitize and Scan

Now that you’ve organized and culled your collection of prints, you should consider getting them scanned because photos are subject to deterioration. In fact, you may have noticed when culling your photos that many were faded or the color had changed. If you still have the negatives, they can be digitized or you can get the hard copy prints scanned.

Consider Using a Scanning Service

Perhaps you’ve already spent an inordinate amount of time culling and organizing your photos. Instead of spending far more time scanning them, make the process easy by getting photos professionally scanned. At ScanCafe, we’ve made the entire process as pain-free as possible because we understand how important it is to digitize treasured memories. You don’t need to worry about organizing them if you haven’t done so. And our Pay for What You Keep perk means you get to review your scans before we settle your bill. You can delete up to 20% of your scans if you don’t want them – no questions asked! 

How to Organize and Store Old Photos

You’ve scanned your best prints professionally – that’s a big step on organization! Now you should decide which prints are worth keeping and if any are nice enough to display after a photo restoration project. Tips for organizing photos include archival albums or scrapbooks, photo boxes, and frames – just don’t revert to storing them in shoeboxes or those awful albums with sticky acidic pages!

Clutter-clearing guru Marie Kondo says that truly precious memories never vanish even if you discard things associated with them! And the best news is that Kondo has been quoted as saying that sorting photos is the happiest tidying job ever – especially if you do it as a family.

9 thoughts on “What You Need to Do to Conquer Photo Clutter”

  1. It’s really a cool and useful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this useful information with us.

    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hello!

    I have procrastinated on my ScanCafe projects. Would you mind looking up my account and reviewing my prepaid jobs.

    I think one is 100 slides. I got hung up on “Which ones should I do?”
    The other job is something like 25 photos. Ditto, “Which ones should I do?”
    My mother is quite old and I’d like to get on this to show her some things.

    Thank you!
    Carol E Meyer

  3. ScanCafe digitized 160 Kodachrome slides of my Uncle’s tour of duty as an MP during the Korean War in 1953. The early warm colors from that era were reproduced perfectly. The pictures look like they were taken yesterday.

    I can bring them up on my computer or TV in seconds and see the cities, people, and landscapes of South Korea. There are warships and harbors, soldiers and civilians, bars and begging children, churches and cemeteries.

    The best though, are the clear, sharp images of my 20 year old uncle and his friends serving their country as military police and the joy on their faces as they load onto transport ships heading home.

    The care you took with these pictures is priceless……..!

  4. I have a black and white arial photo (30” x 40”) that I would like to have made into a canvas wall hanging. Can this be digitized?

    1. Hello Jeff,
      Yes, we can scan a black and white photograph of size 30″x40″. We can also restore it in the event that it is damaged. You can make the request for restoration after you have had a look at the scan. We will provide you with a quote and you can then decide if you want to proceed or not at that time. If you need any help in placing your order or want packing advice in addition to what we provide on the site, don’t hesitate to call our customer support line: 1-866-234-3909.

  5. I had the majority of my children’s many photos digitized and put on a CD, back in 2016- they did a terrific job. I separated them by child and by year and placed each bunch in an envelope and sent them in. They came back to me, just like I sent them in and the family rejoiced to be able to see all the photos without having to handle tons of photographs!

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