What if you don’t have time to organize now?

Damaged album waiting to be organized

Moisture and extreme temperatures can destroy photos while they’re waiting for your attention. Get them out of your basement, attic and/or garage. Find a spot in the back of a closet or out-of-the-way shelf to stash them until you’re ready to organize. Cardboard boxes and magnetic or sticky album pages can also be very damaging to photographs.

Old houses usually have tiny closets. While the linen closet is a great place to store your photos, that’s often not a realistic solution – it’s full of sheets and towels. What can you reasonably do to protect your photos?

  • get your boxes of photos out of places with known threats: flooding, rodents, extreme temperatures.
  • store your photos in plastic bins, preferably with the photos further protected in an archival-safe smaller box, envelope or bag. Sadly, the paper envelopes from the photo lab weren’t made with photo safe materials, same for old shoeboxes.no sticky albums
  • get them out of the sticky albums ASAP and into a photo safe container. If you don’t have yellowing and damage yet, woo hoo! If you do, let’s get them out before it gets worse.
  • BEFORE you take everything out of an album, it’s a good idea to photograph the groupings and writing on a page – often that’s important information about the people or places in the photos. We don’t want to lose that part! If you’re going to scan all your photos anyway, consider scanning the whole album page – journaling and all.
  • If the photos are stuck in the album, don’t force it. There are tricks to get them out with as little damage as possible. Contact your friendly local photo organizer for help.

All this sounds great – but what if you don’t have time to get even this much done?


Find a friend, a teenager, another relative who can help you knock this project out. You might get a good visit and some great stories from a relative. You can help a poor high school or college student earn pizza money. It’s cheaper than restoring damaged photos later on, or the emotional cost of knowing that irreplaceable family history is destroyed.



  1. Great tips, Kathy! Especially to document the groupings before you remove them from old albums. This truly honors the person who assembled the albums and, as you said, often allows you to capture additional important information included in the album.

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