Your Precious Printed Photos – Tips for Preservation | Chicago North Shore Moms


– Written by Bonnie Hillman Shay, Mariposa Photo Organizing


During this time of sheltering-at-home, many people are either doing some spring cleaning and finding printed photos in a lot of hiding places, or spending time going through their precious photos that they haven’t seen in a while. Bonnie Hillman Shay, founder of Mariposa Photo Organizing shares some great tips on how to preserve your printed photo collection.



Before you get trash happy, think about why your printed photos are so important and precious.

  1. They are what link you to previous generations.
  2. They are what you look through to recall fun times and major life events of your lifetime.
  3. They are what you will leave as part of your legacy for generations to come.



Why are you overwhelmed with them and feeling stuck?

  1. You probably have a large quantity of photos.
  2. Technology changes all the time making it even more difficult to know what to do.
  3. Looking at older photos can be emotional, maybe bittersweet.



I’ve developed a general process for curating your own photo collection:

  1. Gather all of your printed photos into a central location.
  2. Put the photos in chronological order the best that you are able to.
  3. Remove duplicate photos (Bonus option is to mail some of them to friends and family as a fun surprise).
  4. Edit out photos that aren’t great (e.g., blurry, poorly composed, redundant content, you don’t even remember who the people are).
  5. Have the “best of the best” photos scanned so you have them in digital format.
  6. Store printed photos in photo safe boxes in a climate-controlled space.
  7. Back-up the scanned photo files so they are safe and protected. An external hard drive and cloud based storage services are two of the many options for back-up.




Take one step at a time and keep in mind that it took decades to accumulate your printed photos, so it will take dedicated time to work on them. You can do this!


If you feel that you need some help, accountability and guidance, I’m happy to team up with you to figure out the solution and do the work together.


If you have no time, patience or interest in decluttering your collection, I can help! It all starts with a phone call and then I can simply take your many boxes of photos back to my studio to perform my magic. You might be surprised that a Photo Organizer is even a profession –  but I love it! I love it because every photo tells a unique and personal story. I love it because I can to reconnect people with their photographic memories. Your photos are your story, let me help you tell it!



Example of a ‘before’ photo collection (look familiar?):




Example of a ‘work in process’ photo collection:




Lastly, here is an example of an ‘after’ curated printed photo collection all packaged away neatly. Don’t forget to scan your photos and save them on an external hard drive. I can help with that, too!





Happy organizing!


Bonnie Hillman Shay is a Certified Photo Organizer and founder of Mariposa Photo Organizing based in Highland Park. She is a Member of The Photo Managers which is her industry’s international association with over 500 members. Reach out to Bonnie! Call 847-494-0636 or email [email protected].

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