• Katarina Garcia

I SCANNED 5,000 PHOTOS MANUALLY AND ORGANIZED THEM CHRONOLOGICALLY INTO PHOTO ALBUMS

Updated: Apr 4


Being a stay at home mom can take a toll on you both emotionally and physically. Working everyday to keep your baby alive, laundry folded, and meals prepared is a lot of work. But at the end of the day, I still felt like I had nothing to show for it. Sure, our home was clean, but it was clean yesterday, too. People don’t see the process of keeping a home clean. Instead, it just looks like you did nothing. I had always had an overwhelming unaccomplished feeling, because I had nothing to show for it. So I decided to venture out on a project of a lifetime. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and was going to take months of work, but I was ready to do something I could actually show off. Not to mention, it would help pass the time. So I took the first step and asked my mom for all of our family pictures dating back to the 1950s. At that moment, I was fully committed. I knew there would be no turning back. It’s an endeavor I’m proud I took on and I look back on it so fondly. Would I ever do it again? Hell to the no! At first I thought I could maybe turn this into a business, but after completing the project, I realized no amount of money could get me to do this project again. But I’m still happy I did it for my family.


When my son was about 3 months old, I had my sister bring up 5 large plastic totes from my mother’s house full of family albums, loose photos, and picture frames. I started digging through the photos and immediately became overwhelmed. There were photos from both my grandmother and mother. It would later turn out these bins house nearly 5,000 photos. My goal was to organize all the photos chronologically, digitize them, and then place them in matching photo albums. This was not a project for the weak.


I first started off by removing all the photos from the picture frames and raggedy photo albums. I sorted them into 3 categories: before my mother got married, after my mother got married, and then after my mother had my half-sister (this would signify the next chapter of life after my mother divorced my father). The piles quickly began to grow, but I was still able to downsize all these pictures into one plastic tote. I organized the different categories into plastic shoe boxes purchased from the dollar store down the street. I was making progress slowly but surely.


The project came to a screeching halt when we moved apartments and I had to focus on packing and unpacking. I didn’t get the courage to pick the project back up until months after the move. But when I did, I was an animal. I worked diligently from 8AM-5PM sorting and cutting pictures. I treated it like a job. Box by box, I would sort the photos based off of year. Luckily for me, my mom was so kind to have marked each photo with its date on the back in black marker. Once I had huge piles for each year, I worked on organizing each year chronologically. This was sometimes tricky if a photo was missing a date. Then I had to use context clues like a Christmas tree to figure out an approximate date. Organizing chronologically was probably the easiest part of the project. Next came the beast, scanning each picture individually.


I did my research online for the best and quickest photo scanner. I ended up going behind my husband’s back and buying a $250 photo scanner. When he found out, it nearly destroyed our relationship. He just couldn’t understand how I could spend so much money on a photo scanner. But he didn’t understand what this project meant to me. I was digitizing the archives of my family history. Luckily, I ended up being able to return the scanner for a full refund at the end of the project when it stopped working. Needless to say, my husband was thrilled and our marriage survived.


Even with the best photo scanner on Amazon, each photo took about 1 second to scan. But that doesn’t include loading of the photo and saving it. I started to lose it until I turned on the Kardashians to help pass the time. In fact, it was actually the Kardashians who inspired me to create these albums. Whenever Kris Jenner would pull out one of her family albums all organized in the hallway closet, I always turned green with envy. I’m sure she had one of her assistants do the job, but I was still desperately jealous.

My mother and father with me as a baby.

After scanning nearly 5,000 photos, I finally got to see all the hard work come together. I eagerly inserted every photo, one by one, into 4x6 slots in the photo albums. Some photos were smaller than 4x6, so I had to glue these photos to 4x6 index cards so they wouldn’t fall out of the slots. It was so tiring and mundane, but after a few months of hard work, I had eight beautiful, black photo albums documenting my whole life thus far. There were pictures from my birth and every birthday there after. I will cherish these memories forever. After completing all the albums, I didn’t send a single album home to my mother. I will be the sole owner of these albums. I’m not taking any chances on the safety of these albums. If my mom wants to see these photos, she can take a look online on Google Photos where I uploaded all 5,000 photos. For now, I feel like a supermom for having these Kris Jenner photo albums and for doing it all 100% by myself! So for all you stay at home moms out there getting bored, find a project and go for it. You will feel so accomplished when you’re done!

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