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Seriously… How MANY Pictures Can One Family Take?

So let me take you back to last week Wednesday, where I had this BRILLIANT idea.  I was sick of looking at a large bin of random pictures from over the years, and I thought I could better organize it. So I dragged up the large bin of pictures, and I started the daunting task of going through each one.   Let me take you on my journey, nay… my nightmare I would like to call “SERIOUSLY?”

I sat down in front of this large bin, and there are pictures of anything, everyone, and everything.  I began by organizing into categories… just Belle, just Jessie, family and friends, Disney anything, and then our family and general pictures.  Why did I take seven pictures of Belle in the SAME outfit but different poses?  Or of the same place but just several different angles?  Granted, it might have been a great idea at the time, but the space these pictures take up is annoying.  Organized, I can find a picture I am looking for- but in a large bin of mess makes looking for anything impossible.  The other problem I ran into is that when you start a project like this, it’s all or nothing.  I couldn’t do it “half-way” and hope to pick it up again at a later time.  So besides the bin, I found about 8 photo boxes FILLED with pictures, along with current ones that were still in their sleeves from the store.  Several more piles were made.

As the piles got bigger, I knew I would have to face the inevitable- some would have to meet their maker.  I grabbed a garbage bag and started to chuck anything and everything I had doubles of, pictures that were too dark, and just ones I had to ask myself “Why the heck am I saving this?”  I can tell you with all honesty that alot of zoo pictures bit the dust the most- HOW many pictures of animals do I need from the same ZOO year after year? Exactly!  As the hours went by, and yes, HOURS, the garbage bag filled quickly.  I would go on to fill 4 small bags full.  It felt good to prioritize what I wanted to keep of our memories, and what really didn’t need to move onto with us in our next chapter.  Once the piles were bearable, phase 2 was on the horizon.

I had to figure out WHAT to do with the piles I wanted.  Since I was a scrapbooker, I could try to scrap the thousands by the time we leave in 91 days. Yeah, doubt it.  Because of scrapping, I hadn’t bought a regular photo album in 11 years.   I actually wondered if they still sold them. LOL  So began my quest to every discounted store in town, looking high and low for an affordable album.  If I only had to buy one, it wouldn’t have been such a pain- BUT- because I needed several that could hold a bunch, it became one.   Wal-Mart had a great selection, and because they were for storing pics only, I didn’t care that they were pretty “blah” in the color department.  They offered burgundy, black, and blue in the album I needed.  It’s about the size of a 8×10, and they hold 240 photos each.  I also invested in the same size but a larger spine, holding 400 pics each.  After all was said and done, and several runs, I bought 2 of the larger albums and 7 of the smaller ones.  Because they were all the same size, they fit nicely all in a 56 Quart plastic, clear bin.

The albums were bought, measured to fit the bin, and now was just the labor I had to put into the 3rd Phase- placing each picture in the albums.  You would think this would be easy right? A couple hours maybe?  Yah, I wish.  In my younger parenting days, I bought a camera with a panoramic setting which I seemed to have been obsessed with.   Every other picture I found was either panoramic OR this odd size of 4×7.  When the heck did they make 4×7??  So every off size picture I had to stop, pull out my trimmer, and cut to fit into the albums I just bought.  Twice the time, three times the headache.

Seriously, at one point I wanted to take them all and dump them in the garbage in the garage.  I love my memories, but seeing them over and over again was getting me stressed out.  Don’t get me wrong, the first day I started this “genius” project,  I got teary eyed every time I saw my children as little ones.  It was a nice walk down memory lane, especially since my oldest will be 18 this year.   But when day 2 and 3 came, I just wanted to get it done.  Day 4 was today, and I as I walked past my disaster of a living room for the 4th day in a row, I wanted to cry.  I decided to get out of the house with my Jessie and head to Oshkosh for the morning.  My baby needed pants, so we headed to Children’s Place with a smoking good coupon.   After we shopped, we had a wonderful lunch that we both couldn’t finish.  So we took the leftovers and headed to our next destination.  As we rounded the corner in our car, a homeless woman was standing on the corner.  We pulled over and offered our chicken tenders and fries to the woman, which she happily accepted and thanked us. Jessie was over the moon proud of herself that she was able to help someone else, and all of the stress I had from this project just melted away.

Once we got home, I went back into my messy living room with pictures scattered everywhere and started to sprint to the finish line.  I finished a couple of hours ago and I am SO HAPPY that everything is neat and nice in the plastic bin they started in.  Several photo boxes I had filled with pictures were emptied and placed in the albums. Extra pics laying around the house, the random ones I saved or someone gave me- they found a home as well.  I am happy it is done and that I had time to move on to more important things… like blogging.  LOL

Advice?  If you want to organize your pictures, go through all of them first, like I did, and throw away the ones you just won’t ever need or use.  Print only the pictures you need for a reason, for the moment, or for putting away, scrapping at that time. I used a large envelope to place all of the larger prints in and stored it in the same bin- the key is to having it all contained in the SAME spot. Nothing is more frustrating  than having the kids need a pic for something and them having to look all over the house in this album, that shelf, or that “one box.”   I can’t tell you how many pictures I have printed out that just wound up sitting in a box for years.  This is a lot of the reason I want to learn how to digital scrap because it can all be contained on my lap top.

A side note, all those negatives they tell you to keep because of fire, or loss of the photo you want- I threw them ALL out.  Why? Because I can scan the photo I want now, and if I don’t have the picture now from the past, I don’t need it to begin with.  Out of sight, out of mind.

I can tell you this… the next time I take a picture, print one out, etc… I will think twice of how many I take.  Pictures are a wonderful thing- they are great reminders of our past. But if you don’t use them, and they occupy space you need, organize and down size and you will feel better about it.  I hope this has helped you, and I am THRILLED to be done with this KING –sized project.  With that, I save “GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!”


  1. Yes. Digital Scrapbooking is the way to go. I have the digital camera and, now that I am retired, I am going to learn how to do it. I also am going to TRY to scan all the old ones.

    You are fairly lucky. I have to scrap 40 years of pictures! I do have them all corraled and organized now. They are in separate 12 x 12 plastic boxes, by topic. The only unorganized one is the box labeled “Grandkids”. I just throw the latest pictures in there and promise to scrap them later. lol

    Even though you said you had pictures scattered in several spots, you seem to be fairly well organized. For those of you out there who aren’t as organized it might be like Flylady ( says “You can’t organize clutter”. Flylady is a website that helps people become clutter-free. Being clutter-free translates into a calm and peaceful environment for our families. It’s a great website! (I am not affiliated in any way with Flylady.)

    Anyway, Amy. Job well done. All of these projects you do before you move will make moving into your new home so much easier and quicker. It will also help pass the time until your big move.


  2. Oh, you don’t even want to look at my boxes :((
    Hopefully one of these days I can get myself to organize mine.


  3. You are superwoman!

    I keep meaning to go through the bazillion boxes of images in my basement that never made it into scrapbooks. Bbefore going digital (my digital files are super organized and backed up) why or why did we feel the need to print DOUBLES of everything???? UGH! 🙂

    Zoo pics… I think the same thing… yet for some reason the giraffes at the Denver zoo come home on my camera… every. single. time!

    Congrats to you on that huge task!


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