Pictures: Not Quite Perfect

Dad's table, with albums and sorting piles

Dad’s table, with albums and sorting piles

photos after






What did I do on vacation? I played, of course! I went to my Dad’s, the home in Maine where I grew up, and organized about 2500 photos.

This is a great summer project for those long, slow summer afternoons when you just want to stay close to your air conditioner.

2500 photos: For me, projects like that are fun. I got to look at all the photos my Dad had in albums, which spanned from ancestors in the 1700s to the birth of my brother Dan’s most recent baby. That is why it’s fun for me, I’m really into pictures. They tell a story that words sometimes cannot capture.

I’m not going to tell you it was all perfect and I didn’t have some rough moments, especially with the odds and ends, the pictures that didn’t seem to fit in any of the categories I’d set up . . . that is the hardest part for me.
And I was wishing for a more flexible album type, one which had clear pockets pages that could be removed and shuffled around when I discovered photos later that should have been in that album. But as my Dad reminded me, it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Photo Safety
First things first. And that would be . . . photo safety.
Make sure to get your photos out of magnetic albums. To spot a magnetic album, look for sticky pages that have a whole-page plastic sleeve that peels back. Also, the glue will have a striped look. When you bought the magnetic albums, the glue was white. In a few of my Dad’s older albums, the glue around the edges of the page was a deep yellow color. And a few of the photos I removed had some “tracks” from the glue.

When that yellow spreads so that it is under your pictures, the acid in the glue will start a slow aging process in your pictures. If left in there long enough, pictures will show the stripe pattern of the glue that is underneath them. Yuck! It is time to get them out!

Seriously — It is better to take them out, rub off any glue residue from the back of the photos, and stick them in a shoebox than to have them in that album. Preferably a shoebox lined with acid-free paper, of course.

Finding Patterns
In order to sort that many photos, I did just one album at a time. I took out the photos that were out of order or didn’t ‘fit’ in that album, which sometimes meant most of the album.

After a while, I noticed patterns–which is what organizers do !–and each album became a certain time span or theme. For example, my Mom had started a Christmas album, which had all the Christmas pictures from our childhood to the present. In my picture search, I discovered several years’ worth of earlier Christmases, so I added them at the beginning of the album. It’s important to work with what you’ve already got and make it better.

At the end I had several small stacks of photos that didn’t ‘fit’ in any of the albums, or that should have gone in an album which was full. This was one of the times when Dad reminded me it didn’t have to be perfect. I had to make some hard decisions. One of those stacks of pictures was from the weekend we had Kate blessed. She is our first child. I felt a little guilty for taking them out of the album they had been in. But in the end, it worked out well and she got to be in an album with her cousins.

It all turned out well by the end of the day. Dad’s pictures were safely separated from the magnetic pages, and well organized into pocket albums. A good day’s play–I mean–work!

One thought on “Pictures: Not Quite Perfect

  1. admin

    Notice in the “before” picture: the magnetic album page with the plastic pulled back.

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