How to Relax When Choosing Photos to Keep and Organize

Woman holding camera.
Photo by Neon brand,

See how quickly you can respond to this question:

What’s your favorite family photo?

Take a second.

Okay. Got your answer?

Do you have a few answers?

If so, that’s fine. In fact, if one memory stands out and others roll into your thoughts, then that’s completely understandable.

The reason I ask this question is to illustrate that of all the photos that you’ve taken, and will continue to take, I’ll guess that your favorite ones will always be important and stay at the top of your mind.

This gets to the heart of journaling your stories as a way to organize and store those wonderful memories for your kids, grandkids—and their grandchildren.

Now, being the photo coach that I am, I’m going to tug on your inner science nerd and ask, “How many pictures do you really need?”


The Science of Remembering Photos

Do you ever feel a little stressed, or maybe a little pressure, when it comes to taking pictures and trying to capture every breathtaking moment on vacation, a graduation, wedding or at your child’s sports event?

I want you to relax, enjoy the moment and not feel like you have to be snapping your phone or camera continuously. Your mind will fill in the various important moments and complete the story.


Two Views of Picture Taking (okay, a pun)

Here’s research that was quoted in an article in The Cut saying that taking pictures helps you remember photos. A 2017 study published in Psychological Science reveals, “Across one field and three lab studies, we found that, even without revisiting any photos, participants who could freely take photographs during an experience recognized more of what they saw and less of what they heard, compared with those who could not take any photographs.”

How about that?

However, taking pictures doesn’t always have to be with a device. The study says you can use your mind as well, meaning, your powers of observation.

“Further, merely taking mental photos had similar effects on memory. These results provide support for the idea that photo taking induces a shift in attention toward visual aspects and away from auditory aspects of an experience.”

So using a camera, or taking a mental picture, makes it more likely that you’ll remember the photo’s moment.

Now, let’s look at a different thought:

In 2014, Linda Henkel, a psychologist at Fairfield University, published a similar study in Psychological Science. She asked 27 participants to visit a museum and take photos of half of the objects.

What happened?

Henkel found that participants who did not photograph the objects were more likely to remember them. She drew from experiments that were conducted in the 1960s that stated, “We intentionally forget information once we believe we no longer need to store it.”

True or not true?

Even though they contradict each other, both studies should help you relax when it comes to your style of taking pictures – be in the moment, take some photos and trust your mind to create the story.

When it comes to taking photos and remembering what’s important, your mind is a great tool.

Now this also points to future generations—the photos you take today will enable your descendants to know what life was like for you, and it will help form their personal identities.

However, they don’t need to see every picture you take.

And this shows why I have loved being a photo coach for the past 26 years and helping people like you organize your wonderful pictures.


Melody’s Photo Journaling Method

One basic rule in organizing pictures is to delete, or toss, what you don’t need.

However, Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a big deal, right?

Safeguard Your Memories™ with Melody helping a client on the computer

If you’ve got a stack of photo albums and you’ve got thousands of pictures stored on your phone or external hard drive, then how do you know what to keep and what to delete?

The products I use are centered around your goals:

  • What’s really important?
  • What do you want to pass along to future generations?

A friend of mine who built his family through foster care and adoption says that two of his favorite photos are family pictures taken several years apart. The first one, taken almost twenty years ago, was when his kids were in their late adolescence and early teens.

The next favorite picture is several years later when there were a few more kids in the picture, including two more boys who had joined the family during their teen years along with an infant who is his granddaughter.

Those two photos represent he and his wife’s values and where they had focused their lives. They’re critically important—and they’ll be important to his children, their children—and future generations.

Those two pictures can serve as a foundation, or starting point, for organizing and then safeguarding more memories.


Benefits of Photo Coaching

I hope you can see how having a photo coach come in and give you a process can help you sort through, organize, and get ready to store your photos for decades to come. I’d love to share my process that’s really an easy-to-use, simple and done approach.

If your pictures and other media are nagging at you, and you’re wondering how you’re going to make sense of old pictures, VHS tapes, mini-dv, film or other mediums—then relax.

I’ll show you how to use the basic journalistic questions of Who, What, Where, When, Why (and How) to pull things together and create a one-stop digital home where your pictures are guaranteed to be stored for a lifetime plus 100 years.

Contact me to let me know what you need.

And visit my Facebook page, Safeguard Your Memories, for photo tips.


Learn more with these blog posts:

Organize Your Photos to Discover Family and Leave a Legacy

Celebrate with me – Another Anniversary of Organizing and Preserving Your Photos

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