Office Organizing ~ Starting with the Photo Albums

Like many people I have a whole pile of photo albums in my office closet taking up a whole pile of space.  Before digital cameras, I was diligent about getting my film developed and filed into albums (now I create Photobooks to enjoy my pictures which take up next to no space which I LOVE).  Only problem with all those old albums though is having to store them all somewhere.  So into my office closet they went when we moved into this house two years ago.  Then about a year ago I decided that I should really have them in digital format so that I could keep those picture secure in my fireproof safe.  My wedding pictures and the baby pictures of my oldest two kids were only in print.

I didn’t have the time to sit and scan them all myself so I thought I’d utilize a service that does that for you.  The one I chose was a Canadian company (I’m not going to link to them as you’ll see why in a minute) and after contacting them they sent me an empty box to fill with pictures.  All I had to do was fill the box with my pictures and then send that box back to them.  They scan all the pictures onto disk and send the pictures and the disc back to me when complete.  Didn’t sound too difficult so away I went.  Well, what a job that turned out to be!  It’s a whole heck of a lot of work pulling pictures out of photo albums so I really had to be picky about choosing just the best ones.  Obviously I wasn’t going to do them all.

Once I got them sent off, the waiting game began.  I waited and waited and waited some more.  Then I started to panic.  I contacted the company and they assured me they would be coming soon.  Then I waited and waited and waited some more.  They did eventually arrive but not before giving me a bit of an anxiety attack.  I was excited to get them back although not excited about putting them all away again.  I was even more deflated about putting them back into the albums when I realized they didn’t come back in the order I sent them.  Instead all the pictures were mixed up.  What a mess!!!  I dreaded the job so much that I let that box of pictures sit in my office closet for an entire year before I got up the nerve to get the job done.  No kidding.  I just finally did it last week.  And as I pulled each album off the shelf I got more and more annoyed with them as I imagined all the possibilities of what I could do with the space they took up.

Then last Thursday night I’m sitting around with my husband complaining about it.  “All those photo albums in my office closet are driving me crazy taking up so much usable space”.  He simply looked at me and said “well put them in the garage in bins then”.  Um what?  Can I really do that?  Isn’t there some kind of law against that?  Yet the more I thought about it, the more the idea made sense.  I mean why not?  We almost never look at those picture albums now that I’ve got them on disk and I can access my garage from the house so they’d be easy to get to (plus our garage is temperature controlled).  I had a ton of bins leftover from my recent garage overhaul that were just sitting empty and needing to be put to good use.  The biggest deciding factor though was the storage one by far.  I could really use that office closet space for work and office supplies.  Supplies that were taking up space in my small office making it too cluttered and busy for me to even think clearly.

Yep I was definitely doing it.

Four bins all labeled and put away.

Thus began my great office clean-out of 2012.

To be continued…..

Have you ever used a photo scanning service?  Did you have better luck than I did?  If so please feel free to share in the comments who you would recommend.

Filed under: Closets, Pictures


40 Responses to Office Organizing ~ Starting with the Photo Albums

  1. 2
    Hilarie says

    I used Scan Digital and had pretty good luck. I had my photos bundled in groups and labeled – and they even named the scans with those labels! (Like “WeddingReception001”, etc.) They returned them in the same bundles (and possibly even in order, but I didn’t pay that much attention). I’d recommend them!

  2. 3
    Hilda @ From Overwhelmed To Organized says

    Good for you Laura! I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time…I really hate how much space my albums take up! I’m definitely motivated to find a way to digitize these pictures now! I understand why you don’t want to name the company you used but can you give me an idea of the cost? Thanks!

    • 3.1
      Laura says

      It’s between 100 and 200 dollars depending on the options you choose for up to 1200 pictures.

  3. 4
    Jodie says

    Yay! Well done you, I can’t wait to see what you do next lol. My granny has a suitcase FULL of photos in her garage and my auntie has just taken on the task of scanning them, maybe I should try to find a service in the UK that does the same thing to save her some time haha.

  4. 5
    Marcia (organising queen) says

    I carefully chose 250 pics pre digital to get scanned by a company here… And they went bankrupt. Those pics are still in the bag sine nov last year. Oy, I should get it sorted.

    On the other hand, my kids and I love looking at old pics and guessing who’s who 😉

  5. 6
    Judy says

    I’ve been scrapbooking for 14 years so we have scrapbooks all over the house – wherever I can find a place to put them! I can’t bear the thought of putting them in a storage bin somewhere so the older ones are in closets and the latest albums are on the shelf under my coffee table (I still look at them). Luckily for me my son (17) has outgrown the desire to have a scrapbook. He’s a computer geek living in a digital world so I recently stopped making scrapbooks for him. That’s cut down on the scrapbook clutter without me having to completely give up my hobby.

  6. 7
    Jennifer G says

    I have a hate/hate (not a typo) relationship with my photos. I used to love scrapbooking, but now I find it to be a dreadful chore. I have about 12 pgs left before I am completely finished, and I have been procrastinating on those pages for the better part of a decade…dragging those heavy boxes and supplies around with us every time we move. I just need to take an afternoon and finish the silly things and be done with it.

    • 7.1
      Laura says

      Oh I hear ya! Just imagine how awesome you will feel when it’s done. How about breaking it down into manageable steps, that might help. Rent some good chick flicks and plow ahead 🙂 Keep me posted!!

  7. 8
    Nikki says

    Be careful about storing them in the garage for a long period of time … even in bins. The humidity and climate changes will eventually cause all the pages to stick together and white chalk-like substances to form. We recently cleaned out my sister’s garage, who had stored them this way for years. Unfortunately, most of them were ruined.

    • 8.1
      Laura says

      Honestly I think I would be okay with getting rid of them completely. I have my pictures backed up four different ways and now that I’m enjoying my newly organized office, I am so happy I took the albums out.

  8. 9
    Rachel says

    I had about 1,000 negatives scanned a few years ago and ended up with a similar experience, the discs were completely disorganized and I spend hours sorting the photos into the correct folders. I was also disappointed because I think they skipped and duplicated some of the negatives, now I have to scan the photos if I want those digitized.

    • 9.1
      Laura says

      So frustrating isn’t it??

  9. 10
    Mary K says

    As a genealogist I have Nikik’s concern about storing your photos for 1) in plastic containers and 2) in the garage. I would go through and get the most valuable photos and store them in an archival manner. Digital information may not be available to future generations. Remeber floppy discs.

    • 10.1
      Laura says

      Since I’ve been enjoying my newly organized office I am so happy I took the albums out. In fact I’m leaning towards getting rid of the prints all together. Gasp, I know! But I have my pictures backed up four different ways (two external hard drives, flash drive and cd) so I’m really not concerned if the pictures kick the bucket. I’d almost be grateful to have my decision made for me. I just really can’t imagine lugging them around for the next 50 years of my life.

      • Erica Stephenson says

        I have so much clutter (I’m working on de-cluttering) but I told my husband one time I wish the house would burn down and we could start fresh. Kinda like having the decision made for you. I couldn’t bare to get rid of my photos but if they were taken there would be nothing I could do about it.

    • 10.2
      Pam says

      There are still old computers around that have floppy disk drives. It really isn’t a problem to convert them to a usb memory stick. Anytime media changes there is a period of time when people have the old and new technology at the same time. Storing them digitally is actually much safer than expecting the prints to last.

  10. 11
    Jessica says

    I’ve begun scanning my millions of childhood pictures and various paraphernalia. It’s quite the task, but I am getting rid many of the prints being stored. As I go through old albums and boxes of pictures, I scan pretty much everything, labeling with all the info I have. Then I literally throw out any that aren’t favorites. For now the keepers are in a box, but when eventually they’ll get framed or put into an album. In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason to keep pictures you’ve already scanned, unless you want to be able to display them or look through them. Just ditch ’em! You can always print them out later if you want to!

    • 11.1
      Laura says

      You are right! I so want to do it, I’m so over having all these pictures taking up precious space in my house. It never use to matter when I lived in a much larger home with a ton of storage but now that I live in a smaller home all my storage space has to be carefully maximized and prioritized. I just can’t imagine lugging these totes around for the next 50 years…yikes!

  11. 12
    Jami says

    I really want to have my pictures scanned, but the thought of putting them in the mail and shipping them off gives me a heart attack! I love my pictures (probably in an unhealthy way) and I would be devastated to lose them. But, then again, I never look at them, so why would I care? *sigh* I could scan them myself, but who has that kind of time? I just don’t know what to do with mine! Laura, I think you would be fine getting rid of them. You seem like you’ve accepted the fact they are backed up and the peace of mind that they are out of the way seems worth it. Now, if only I can figure out a solution for myself! LOL

    • 12.1
      Judy says

      I feel the same way! We have a pile of old videos in our house and I know they’re going to be obsolete someday – probably sooner than later! They’re small VHS tapes that fit into a VHS adaptor (I know there’s a name for them but it escapes me right now). Just the other day as my daughter watched our old home movies (in an old VCR!) I commented that I really should have them transferred to DVD. I’d be heartbroken if the VCR kicked the bucket and we couldn’t watch them anymore. I’m just terrified to pack them in a box and ship them off somewhere. If I could find someone local to do it (where I can hand deliver them), I’d feel better about it.

      • April says

        i know that Ritz camera used to convert

      • Nina says

        Check your local library. Ours just got the equipment a year ago to do this. They show you how and then you do it yourself.

  12. 13
    [email protected] says

    I also want to do this but am also hesitant to try a service. I have lots of photos, plus also I have my great aunt’s photos from the 1930’s, 40’s that I want done too but am worried about them getting wrecked, or not returned!!

  13. 14
    Josh says

    One thing to take into account when using digital back ups is to have an off-site location in case of a fire or natural disaster. I use Crash Plan for external backups, but it has a monthly subscription associated with it which some people would rather not have to pay. Having a hard drive at the home of a friend or family member can do the trick as well.

    • 14.1
      Linda says

      An off-site location is a very good thinking! TFS

  14. 15
    Carol says

    I bought a small bar scanner last year. I have family photos from the 1800’s and there is no way I could send them off. Scanning them was so easy. I just did it while watching tv. I also scanned photos that were not digital. Picking the best ones and making sure I had a variety if each kid at different stages etc. I have them on my computer and I loaded them onto an sd card. 16 G. I put the card in our safety deposit box at the bank. Now I know if we have a fire or flood, I have a good selection of pictures that is safe.

  15. 16
    Molly says

    I am so impressed with all of you who have started the task of sorting and scanning your photos! If you would like help with the process you can search for a local Photo Organizer through the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, I scan all the photos for my clients and can’t imagine returning their photos in a disorganized mess – I am so sorry that has happened to a few of you! Please check the settings of any of the vendors you chose to the do the scanning as quality varies dramatically and especially if you want to toss your originals, you should have a high-quality scan.

  16. 17
    Damaris says

    Damaris, do you know how to comment on this? Her nice neat closet is great but the photos stored out in the garage will eventually ruin them with the temp. changes, moisture and dirt. I just wonder if she knows that? Better to go ahead and throw the pictures away, enjoy on the the digital format and save a heart ache later.
    Please don’t ever ask me to do that! {shiver}… from my Momma…just passing on the message….she is a great picture lover and it took her a while to get used to digital forms of picture storage

    • 17.1
      Laura says

      Thanks Damaris!

  17. 18
    Cheryl says

    Our Sams Club has a rapid scanner that works almost like a photocopier. You put in a group of photos and it sends them through like a photocopier. They come out in the order you put them in. They give you the photos on a cd. I think they can fit about 200 photos on a cd for about $2.25. You do this yourself but it is very fast. I did 175 photos in just over 10 minutes. As for the photos that are scanned I would suggest saving your favorites in a photo safe box in your home. All those albums look like they fit in one box to be sent to be scanned so if you took just your favorites the box would be even smaller.

  18. 19
    Tanya says

    I have a lot of photos in Picasa on my computer and then upload my favorites to Web Albums. Web Albums is free up to so many and you can access from any computer and your phone app. You can email, make it public or allow only certain people to view them.
    I have a couple home made photo albums that I gave away that I scanned on an inexpensive scanner by the page and also have them in Picasa.
    I also have my pictures on my computer as a screen saver. They scroll through randomly and we all get to enjoy them.
    With smart phones, it is so easy to take pictures of your photos and email to all interested parties. The quality may not be great, but certainly acceptable and better than no one ever seeing them.
    I have a VCR/DVD recorder, player that will transfer movies from VCR to CD. You can capture photos from the CD onto your computer also.
    The main goal is to have my photos where they can be seen frequently and shared with others.

  19. 20
    Melissa says

    I haven’t used them (yet) but a local company has started offering a photo scanning service. Check out

  20. 21
    Lynn says

    Why not take a few select favorites and make a framed collage out of them and then say goodbye to the rest?

  21. 22
    Cita Sue Cox says

    That’s what a personal photo organizer is for!! A photo organizer will give you that personal service — pickup and delivery so no mailing off your precious memories, and you will for sure get them returned to you organized digitally. Your experience will be much better and we can help you with print organizing, tape conversion, digital books and lots of other ways to preserve and share your photos! Find one close to you via the National Association of Personal Photo Organizers —

  22. 23
    Beth Monte says

    If I store my albums in a large plastic bin should I add something to help preserve them? Fabric softener? Box of baking soda? ???? They’ll be in a closet inside my house.

    • 23.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Beth I’m not entirely sure but I think as long as they are in the house they should be fine.


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