Let's say that you came across a shoebox full of old loose photographs or a few inherited family photo albums when you were in the process of decluttering your home. Let's also assume that you have made the conscious decision to have these pictures scanned by a Professional Photo Organizer in order to share them with your friends and family. The question will inevitably arise: what do you do with the original photos after they've been digitized? In the spirit of downsizing and getting rid of things that take up space in your home, your first thought may be to throw them away. The photos already on a flash drive, your cloud drive, and your computer - why would you need to keep the originals?
The original photos are the best backup, especially if you use a cloud sync service to view/share your digital photos (i.e., Apple Photos, Google Photos, etc.). There are few worse things than accidentally deleting a photo on a synced drive (meaning it gets deleted EVERYWHERE) and realizing that you have no way of getting it back!
Storage hardware and cloud software failure are rare occurrences, but they can be devastating. If you experience a power surge that damages your computer or the cloud software you use shuts down, you are really going to regret throwing the originals away! It is also important to note that hard drives have the potential to fail within a year, and most external hard drives only last around 3 years before they start experiencing data loss.
Destructive edits made to a photo (i.e., cropping, lighting/color adjustments, etc.) can be difficult or impossible to undo, especially if it is the only digital copy you have access to. The original copy is always going to be your best reference if edits go awry!
The original, printed photos are format-less. That is to say, you don't have to worry about "paper technology" changing as we advance further into the digital world. These "analog" photos are going to be able to be viewed by anyone at any time without the restrictions of cross-compatibility or file format.
Using some sturdy archival boxes and labeled divider tabs as you sort through your photos can optimize your storage space! This means you can still maintain your goal of downsizing and clearing space! However, in order for this to be most effective, proper storage practices need to be used. Photos should not be stored in the attic, basement, garage, or anywhere where temperature and moisture levels fluctuate.
By the way, you don't have to keep ALL your printed photos - just the ones that you consider the best and most meaningful! If you have already sorted through your photo collection and removed the blurry and "finger-in-frame" photos before they were scanned, finding the space in your home to store the originals of your favorite photos should be a non-issue. Also keep in mind that having photos you took on your phone printed is a great idea, as long as you create space on walls, in albums, or in photo books for them.
Learn some of our photo sorting tips and tricks by checking out our Photo Organizing Basics blog post!