The following post is an excerpt from the book,” Photo Album. The Essential Guide to Sorting, Sharing and Keeping Your Photos.” By Vanessa Holden and Susie Cushner
For many people, the easiest way to tackle a large inventory of photos is by sorting them into time periods. Putting photos into time lines can reveal hidden stories – instead of documenting random occurrences, the pictures create narratives with a beginning, middle, and end.
January Through December
The full cycle of a calendar year is a great framework for creating a flowing, inclusive story. With the “yearbook” approach, you can arrange informal pictures of ordinary events – a Scrabble game on a rainy afternoon, say, or the day your dog came home from the groomer wearing a ridiculous pink bow – alongside traditional milestones like birthdays, for a comprehensive chronicle of family life. Or use the 12-month structure to show how a beloved outdoor place – a nearby park, a garden – changes with the seasons.
Building a narrative around an event that repeats itself can produce dramatic contrasts and coincidences. The first and last days of the school year, annual holidays, and birthdays are just some of the events that, captured over time, highlight personal growth and new relationships. Be open to including routine activities that may not seem “special.” Seemingly mundane scenes, like summer backyard barbecues or even spring cleaning, can take on the significance of ritual when they’re regularly repeated and deliberately recorded.
Single Subject Over Time
Devoting an album entirely to one person, place, or object is another simple organizing technique that can yield a poignant story. Such albums make excellent gifts and keepsakes, because they sum up an era. For example, you can celebrate a colleague’s retirement with a collection of pictures from throughout his career. Showcase a favorite summer retreat over the years, with its different houseguests and changing décor. Or gather all your pictures of a beloved pet from infancy to old age.
Ideas and Tips
-Try assembling photos into the story of a single day.
-Look for “before-and-after” pictures to dramatize rites of passage or accomplishments.
-If 1995 was a humdrum year, don’t feel compelled to document it. Pick out the highlights and toss the rest.