How Do You Sort 50,000 Digital Pictures?

July 23, 2014
 Turning a small annoyance into an
opportunity to enjoy happy memories.

Shadowbox photos

Click on image to see a bigger version.

How do you sort through and organize fifty-thousand photos? Well, maybe not quite fifty-thousand; more like forty-eight-thousand in hundreds of folders that are taking up too much space in my computer. In fact, I need to clean out the whole computer with hundreds of folders and thousands of files. In a moment I’ll share my method.

First, a comment. The previous occupants of my apartment had installed a telephone jack four feet above the floor, which is about a foot above my dining table. It is a major distraction — to me anyway — on a wall that is otherwise unbroken, except for the light switch that blends with the paint color. Why didn’t they put the plug near the baseboard, a normal position from my perspective?

In any case, while someone else may not care, I do, so I’m determined to cover it with a quilted wall-hanging. Since I haven’t found any that suit me, I am waiting to attend an international quilting show in Long Beach in October. Hope to find one that is just right — meaning I will not get tired of looking at it every day — or I will commission one.

Creating a Shadow-Box of Memories

In the meantime, I will hide the plug with a shadow-box of various places Bob and I have visited around the world. In the center is a signpost at Stirling Point in Bluff, New Zealand, the most southern place we’ve visited. If the sign had included Antarctica, across the Southern Ocean, it would have indicated that it was 2,751 miles away. (That’s a little fact I got from Googling just now, which still amazes this woman born before the Internet was invented with its instant answers to a zillion questions.)

Incidentally, when I first thought of creating a shadow-box, I was sure I would cry every time I saw it —and I was sad when I began working on it. Then I focused on how much pleasure Bob and I had travelling to more than thirteen countries on six or seven continents, depending on how you define a continent. Now I will have a reminder of those great trips. And when the quilt is made, I will hang the picture box in my office and every day I’ll be reminded of our pleasure in travelling together.

I’m going to the photo shop today to get the pictures printed. Then the frame shop will arrange them in a custom-built shadow-box frame about 18” x 24”. Getting excited to cover the plug with it until the quilt is done.

Tackling a Project in Small Bites

Okay, here is what I plan to do with pictures that have accumulated over the past fifteen years twenty years, and at least that many documents. Instead of going through each folder to select the ones I want to keep, and then labeling them more accurately, I have copied all the pictures to two large storage units. If one is damaged, I’ll have the other to find my pictures.

Next, in one-hour-per-day segments, I will eliminate the pictures, videos, and documents I know I don’t want and only keep those I am fairly sure I will use. If I delete a picture that I later decide I should have kept, I’ll have those two backups. I am less concerned with keeping old documents, many of which are well past the time when I need them.

This will obviously take many days. However, it will be a superior method to the way I previously would tackle such tasks — when I would focus on only one project and ignore the rest of my life.

Leaving myself time for other things than just “projects” is giving me a new way to live, one I wish I had tried years ago. Now I even watch movies on my iPad after dinner or listen to TED talks, ignoring the hours left in the day when, in the past, I would have felt I should get back to working on something “productive.”

My mind, my spirit, and my body are most grateful!

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