We take more photos than ever. Nearly everyone has a smartphone, which gives them immediate access to a camera.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your photo collection, you’re not alone. Depending on your situation, you may also be dealing with generations of family photos on top of your personal ones.

These photos might be spread out in physical photo albums, on your phone, your computer, photo websites, social media, tablets, backup drives, thumb drives, VHS tapes, negatives, etc. There are also physical items that represent memories, such as letterman jackets, trophies, and wedding dresses.

It’s difficult to know where to begin. But, if you get started and keep at it, you will chip away at the project and reach your goal.

Let’s take a look at how you can use the EMEND process to organize your photos and memorabilia.

Explore: What does the end goal look like?

Make this a specific goal. It could be that you want to get all of your photos in a single place, whether it’s your digital or physical collection. Maybe you’re creating a digital backup or making a gallery wall in your home. Other people want to prepare a slideshow for a graduation, wedding or funeral.

Merge: Group like photos together.

Put your photos together in categories that make sense to you. This could be grouping them by year, by holiday, by vacation, etc. If one section is huge, such as vacation, maybe you break those down by year or location. Start big and work into smaller groups as needed.

Edit: Decide what to keep and get rid of.  

Give yourself permission to get rid of photos. You can’t recycle them, but you can get rid of them. Start by tossing the duplicates; you can give them to people who may want them. You can also toss the ones that are fuzzy, eyes are closed, or have a finger in the way.

You could also simply not need certain photos. Maybe there’s an old family album from a trip you didn’t go on, so you keep the pictures of your family but toss the scenery shots.

If you’re organizing digital photos, delete any unnecessary screenshots or multiple “burst” shots that you don’t need. If you’re organizing video memories, know that VHS tapes have a 10-15-year lifespan. It is definitely past time to get these memories preserved.

Nest: Review your storage options.

Find a home for the photos you want to keep. For more information on photo storage, take a look at our blog post on how to store your memories.

Develop: Do I have to take this picture?

This step is about maintaining the system you’ve created. Maybe you set a goal to go through your photos on your phone and delete the ones you don’t want or need. It’s a good way to chip away at it.

If you’re going through physical, family photos, maybe you set a time to get together with the family and sort photos and/or share stories and family history. Don’t wait!

You also can set a goal to change your photo habits. Do you really need to continue to take as many pictures? Not taking as many pictures means you don’t have to manage as many.

 Jan. 31 is another installment of the “Get Organized” series at the Main Library on Goodwood. Join Alyssa for the fourth session: “Organizing Your Time” at 3pm.