What to Do With All Those Holiday Photos

Images can overwhelm storage space, but smile! They don't have to

Bulletin board with string lights and polaroids

martin-dm / Getty Images

We have entered prime photo time when loved ones from near and far gather for food, fun, and traditions that pass through the generations. It’s always enjoyable to look back at photos of holidays past and create new snaps to immortalize current happenings. Smartphones and digital cameras everywhere will capture the moments for posterity, but what then? Do they sit on your phone or memory card, never to be seen again? Do you print them and share them with loved ones, creating another storage dilemma down the line? 

Don’t stress! Jiffy Page, founder, and CEO of Pixorium helps people sort such recorded memories, whether on a phone, card, film, or paper. And she has some words of wisdom for everyone looking for a life preserver in the middle of the snapshot tsunami. 

Meet the Expert

  • Jiffy Page is the founder and CEO of Pixorium, a photo-saving and storytelling company in Atlanta, Georgia.

Hit the Button

According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of people in the U.S. have some type of cell phone—85% have a smartphone. That’s a lot of pics! Many people take photos of just about everything until they hit their phone’s storage limit. Then they might remove enough to keep going, or just expand their cloud package. This only makes it more difficult to find the truly precious photos that you want to preserve. Page has a simple solution. “Delete, delete, and delete! Starting today, delete your photos at the source, before they ever arrive in your photo library.” As soon as someone sends you a photo or you take a new one, make the decision right away on whether it’s good enough to keep. Your future self will thank you. 

Get Comfortable

Sorting through images of days gone by seems daunting. It is a task so many of us say we’ll just do it later. We won’t. Tackle the job one box at a time. Page advises people to take a single box and find a comfortable, dry place to spread out and dive in. “Think spare bed, unused ping-pong table, or dining room table,” she says. “Divide the photos into three piles: keepers, giveaways, and throwaways. For the keepers, scan each photo to make a digital copy. For the giveaways, stick them in a plastic bubble mailer and send them to someone who would be delighted to get them. For the toss, just toss them. Really.” She also reminds folks that if they throw photos away—don’t put them in the recycling bin. The chemicals and such used in the creation of prints and negatives aren’t suitable for that option.

Saving Those Snaps

If you choose to keep some of your older photos stored for posterity, you’ll want to keep them safe. Chances are these printed pics and negatives are stacked up in a bag or box in a closet.  That’s all well and good, but you will want to take a few key steps first. According to Page, the top tip no matter if your collection contains prints, negatives, or slides is to store them flat in a sturdy plastic box. Using archival-safe paper or plastic sleeves to slide between items is a good idea but not 100% necessary. Just make sure they are lying flat. Also, make sure this box has an overhanging lid and that it isn’t airtight. Don’t store the box on the floor; put it in a safe and dark location with controlled temperature and humidity. The attic, basement, or garage are not good choices for photo storage. Stowing appropriate photo boxes in an inside closet is good as long as no water pipes are running through the ceiling.

Enjoying the Memories

Your favorite photos will likely find a home on your wall. There are other ways you might think about displaying them as well. Page suggests sliding a print of your precious pics into magnetic sleeves and sticking them on the fridge. Another popular option is gathering a selection of photos you love and creating a coffee table book or a calendar, both of which make great gifts. You might also consider loading them onto your computer and using them as a screensaver or installing them into a digital frame to show off on your desk or side table. “For something simple and stylish, I’m loving a print in a block lucite frame—inexpensive, indestructible, and they look good in lots of places—next to the kitchen sink or bed, on a shelf, desk, or entrance table,” Page says. 

The holiday season is full of fun with family and friends, and you won’t want to forget a single magical minute. Soak it all in, and take these tips with you to reduce future stress and just keep the smiles!

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  1. M. Mobile fact sheet. Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech.