HJ - Lisa Moritz

Lisa Tonjes Moritz, a professional organizer from Omaha, discussed ways to maintain pictures, whether they exist in printed form or as digital files during a program June 11 at the Lied Public Library in Clarinda. (photo by Dan Eshelman)

Procedures for preserving collections of photographs were reviewed by the featured speaker at a program Tuesday, June 11, at the Lied Public Library in Clarinda.

Lisa Tonjes Moritz, a professional organizer from Omaha, discussed ways to maintain pictures, whether they exist in printed form or as digital files.

The first step in the process, she said, is deciding what to retain and what to discard.

“Just because you took a photo doesn’t mean you have to keep it,” she said.

Printed pictures can be prioritized by the value assigned to them, and can be placed in the category of what Moritz termed “album worthy” or “frame worthy.”

“These are the really important photos in your life that you want to save so that people can look at them easily,” she said. “These are the cherished pictures that you want to put in an album to share with family and friends, or put up on the wall.”

In another category for retention are photos that have significance, but do not necessarily need to be displayed. They can be stored in archival boxes labeled with the contents of the containers.

Once the important photos have been selected, other pictures can be evaluated to determine whether they should be kept.

Moritz recommended disposing of photos that are blurry or that depict unflattering images. All duplicate pictures can also be discarded.

But she said a “poorly composed picture may be special for some reason,” perhaps because it is the last image of a family member, and thus may be worth keeping.

If possible, information about the printed picture -- when and where it was take, and who is shown, for example -- should be included with it for future reference.

“Let the photo tell a story,” Moritz said. “If the picture evokes a story for you, make notes on it. This is useful if you want to save it for family members.”

Regarding digital photos, she said there should be at least three backups of the electronic image so that if the computer or phone on which the original picture is located crashes, the photo will not be lost.

“A printed picture can be considered as a backup,” Moritz said. “The photo can also be saved to a flash drive or an external hard drive.”

Keeping a printed photo along with a backup image also meets a recommendation to have the picture available on two different kinds of media. In addition, Moritz said the photo should be stored off-site on a “Cloud” server, which would make it available from a variety of devices.

Regardless of the format in which photos are kept, they need to be organized in some manner that facilitates convenient access

Filing pictures chronologically is one option, Moritz said. If this is done, there should be a consistent style for pertinent information, such as listing -- in order -- the year, the month and the date the photo was taken.

Computer software that generates “meta data” now makes it possible to incorporate that information into digital photos. Programs can also place “tags” on the images, and can enable searching of electronic archives by “key words.”

Pictures can also be filed by “themes,” such as holidays, vacations, school events, family gatherings or other events. “Whatever is important to you can be the way the photos are grouped,” Moritz said.

When identifying individuals in pictures, she said her preference is using “actual names, not nicknames” or titles, because accuracy can prove beneficial if the photos become part of genealogical research in the future.

Moritz said people often become motivated to organize their picture collections because they “want to share them with others.”

At present, there are numerous means to do this. Pictures can be placed in traditional albums or displayed on walls, shelves or mantels. “Digital frames” have become popular because they allow updating of images.

On the Internet, there are Web sites that feature photo sharing, and pictures can also be displayed through social media applications.

“Photos continue to be shared as gifts,” Moritz said, adding that images can now be put on a variety of items, from cups to T-shirts.

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