Should You Apply the KonMari Method for Your Printed Photos?

Is the KonMari method really suitable to declutter your printed photos? Read about the pros and cons from the point of view of a personal photo organizer.



Photos are very precious to most of us. They tell stories and bring back memories. Photos tucked away in a messy box though don’t bring us any joy. We need to be able to access and enjoy them in a different way.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I used the KonMari method in my own home and documented my experience here. To be honest, I have only done clothes and books so far, mainly due to the lack of time to tackle the other categories. Furthermore, I don’t really feel the need to declutter big time right now. However, I have recently started to specialize in photo organizing which means I help my clients to manage their printed and digital photo collections. Since the KonMari method worked well for me as far as clothes and books were concerned I am naturally interested to have a closer look at her method with regards to photos. Obviously, most people have tons of digital photos these days but most also have printed photos or might inherit them in the future. That’s what we are going to talk about today: Applying the KonMari method for PRINTED photos.


As a reminder or in case you don’t know Marie Kondo yet, this is – in short – what she suggests doing:

  1. Declutter in one fell swoop (have a tidying festival).
  2. Work by category, not by location.
  3. Only keep things that ‘spark joy’.
  4. Start with clothes, then books, documents, miscellaneous (komono) and finish with sentimental (photos belong to this last category).


Marie Kondo suggest decluttering the printed photos as follows:

  1. Gather all the printed photos.
  2. Create sub-categories (like with like). E.g. lose photos, negatives, slides (transparencies), albums, photos on cards, envelope from the developers, framed photos, film rolls etc.
  3. Hold each photo (yes, take them out of the album) and decide whether it touches your heart and sparks joy for you or not. Note: this is only about your photos, not any other person’s!
  4. Put the ‘keepers’ in an album and throw away the others.

This sounds straight forward, right? Let me share my thoughts about this process looking through the lense of a personal photo organizer.

Firstly, before you start your photo organizing project be aware that it can be very time consuming. So, set aside enough time. Furthermore, don’t forget that there is no KonMari police – you decide what you keep and what not, there is no right or wrong and it is not about minimalism.


Photo Organising Melbourne | Shoebox full with old photos

Things I agree with when sorting printed photos according to the KonMari method:



I do agree that it is best to gather all your printed photos first. Only then will you see what you have. She suggests dedicating a box to collect all the photos you come across while you work through the whole KonMari process. Remember, photos are part of the sentimental category which comes last.


If you do go through the complete KonMari process I think it is a very valid point to do photos at the very end. I think she is right in that you will hone your decluttering skills along the way and it will be easier to work through photos when you do it as one of the last sub-categories. Furthermore, you will have collected all those you found along the way which will speed things up, at least a little bit.


In her second book, she says: ‘… we shouldn’t still be sorting photos when we reach old age. If you, too, are leaving this task for when you grow old, don’t wait. Do it now. You will enjoy the photos far more when you are old if they are already in an album …’. I totally agree with that. Now is the time to do it. Most of us don’t want to leave a messy legacy. So, do it now!


Also in her second book, she suggests sorting family photos together. Meaning, if your parents have boxes of photos, help them to go through these and make it a family project. Because guess what … you’ll end up with these boxes anyway. Another big advantage of this: your parents can tell you the stories that go with the photos. After all, the reason we take photos is to tell a story. So, use this precious time to connect and to learn about the past.


She also suggests picking the best ones and displaying them, e.g. in an album. Of course, there are many other ways you can display photos, that’s totally up to you. This actually corresponds nicely with a method many of us photo organizers use. It was developed by the funder, Cathie Nelson, of our association APPO and is called the ABCS of photo organizing.
A = Album (important and great photo, album-worthy)
B = Box (stays but doesn’t need to be in an album, can be kept in an archival box)
C = Can (throw away)
S = Story (not necessarily a great photo but it tells an important story)
Translated to the KonMari method this means the A+S photos are those going into that album. They are the most precious ones. The B photos stay as well but they’re not quite album-worthy. Hence, they can be kept in an archival box. C is self-explanatory … these photos are thrown away.

Where I disagree with Marie Kondo:


Pulling every photo out of an album.
I encourage you to first have a look through the album. If it is a beautifully done album or scrapbook you will hesitate to pull it apart. And rightly so (in my opinion). You have invested a lot of time to put it together. Also, they are in an album. This means – at least in the past – you had decided that they are A-photos and belong in an album. Maybe you would change your mind about some of them. But is this really worth ripping it apart? I’d keep them as they are.
However, in some cases you might want to consider her suggestion. For example, if your photos are in magnetic albums. They can be quite damaging to your photos and you want to take them out. Another reason could be that there are only very few photos in an album or only a few that you want to keep. Or your album is damaged in some way or moldy.


Marie mentions that we often keep photos with the plan to sort and enjoy them ‘someday’ but that ‘someday’ will never happen. Yes, this is very often true and I encourage everyone to sort them now and not later (see above). As to the enjoying of photos I do believe that we get to a stage in life in which photos might become more important to us than they seem to be right now. Someday might come and we’ll appreciate that we have them, especially if they are already sorted and nicely presented (this should not be an excuse to keep them all though!).


Her tip to keep only about 5 photos per day of an event or a holiday makes sense and it would reduce the overwhelm dramatically. However, people have various reasons to keep more than that and I think one shouldn’t concentrate too much on the numbers here. I’ll give you a personal example to explain what I mean. We have always loved to travel and been fortunate enough to visit many countries and places. Of course, we took a lot of photos. Quite reasonable amounts when we still used printed photos, clearly too many with the digital camera. Hubby likes to take scenery photos and to try different things with the camera. We do delete many of these and I’m aware that most of these kind of photos we keep will eventually be thrown out by our children because they mean nothing to them. Still, reducing them to 5 per day would be too unrealistic for us at this point in time. I’m pretty sure though that ‘someday’ will come, and we will be ready to part with most of them so we can leave a meaningful photo legacy to our children. Remember, there is no KonMari police fining us for keeping more ;-)…


Getting rid of the negatives. Most people probably do throw them away because it’s considered kind of old fashioned. I recommend to keep them for two reasons: firstly, you can keep them as an additional backup. Secondly, if you ever want to digitise these photos you will get a much better quality scanning the negative rather than a printed photo. Especially if the print has already suffered from fading or been damaged otherwise.


What comes after decluttering the KonMari way (or any other way for that matter)?

What are your next steps after decluttering your photos, regardless whether you are applying the KonMari method or not?

  1. Discard your purged photos. Note that photos can’t be recycled and need to go in the bin. If you’re concerned about identity theft shred them first.
  2. Donate anything you can, such as frames or unused albums.
  3. Digitise your printed photos! Not only is this basically the only way to back them up (except if you have another printed copy, but who wants that …) but will also make it a lot easier to share and enjoy your photos.
    Scanning lose photos is easy but what about the ones in the albums? One of the easiest ways is to take a digital photo per album page. There are of course more sophisticated ways but this is quick and easy and better than no backup at all.
  4. Archive the scanned prints in archival photo boxes, create albums or display your photos in any way you like.


Bonus tip: a pile of approx. 100 prints measures about 1 inch or a shoebox can hold around 1,000 prints.


Sign up below to never miss a blog post again! The next one will be about using the KonMari method in the digital photo world.


Related posts:

My KonMari Journey – Part 1 – Clothes
My KonMari Journey – Part 2 – Books
What you need to know before starting with the KonMari method

My KonMari Journey, Part 2 – Books

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In this post, I share my experience of using the KonMari method to declutter my books. The method is based on Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I am interested in her approach, not only as a professional organiser, but also for us as a family.

Book decluttering using the KonMari method, during and after

If you’ve read my first blog post about the clothes category, you know that I actually started the process a while ago. I have to admit that there was quite a long interval between working through the clothes and the books. Marie Kondo recommends doing it all in one big sweep, or at least as fast as possible. Life happens, though, and personally I need to be in the right mood to tackle a project like this, hence the delay.

So, what happened? First, I have to tell you that I am a book lover and always have been. I’ve got an emotional attachment to many of my books. However, I have pretty much stopped buying books in recent years. Instead, I have become a very regular user of our beautiful local library. This obviously stops the influx, which is a good thing.


Working with subcategories

In contrast to the clothes category, I didn’t declutter the books in one go, but worked through various subcategories:

  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction professional
  • Non-fiction personal
  • Reference books
  • Travel books
  • Magazines
  • Cook books

There are more possible subcategories, which were not relevant to me, such as textbooks, comics, phone books or music books. I mostly used the coffee table in our lounge room as a sorting place and sometimes I added a trestle table.

To keep or not to keep … where the joy question wasn’t always enough

Marie Kondo says not to read the covers or extracts of books, but to pick one up and feel whether it sparks joy. I have to say: I found this more difficult with books than with clothes. I naturally did sometimes read the covers before I decided what to do with it.

Once I had decided, the books ended up in one of the following piles:

  • Keep
  • Keep but discard of when read once more
  • Keep for the sentimental category
  • Go to the German Community
  • Go to the OP shop
  • Go to the recycling bin

I did keep some books that I will eventually give away. First, however, I want to read them again (I often read books several times). So, I made a little pile of about 20 books that fell into this category. In the meantime, I have already reduced this pile and given away the ones I re-read.


Because I hate waste, I did some research first

Having lived in Switzerland for almost 40 years, most of my books are of course in German. This means that I can’t just bring them to the op shops here in Australia; at least, I wasn’t able to find one that is interested in these books. After quite a bit research, I found a retirement home with lots of German immigrants who love to read books in their native language. Knowing that the books would be appreciated made a big difference to me when deciding to let go or not.

I also knew that the local library has a magazine swap box in the entrance, so I brought all of mine there.

The professional, reference and travel books were the easiest for me to let go because I knew the contents were dated. That’s really a no-brainer.


Going through the process I was able to let go of about 126 books which represent almost exactly 50 %. Pretty good for a bookworm, don’t you think? I’m happy with the overall result, and it does feel great.

My top tip with regards to the book-category would be to think about where to bring the books you no longer want before you start the process.


Decluttering books using the KonMari method

Next up will be documents / paperwork. Sign up below to be the first to hear about future blog posts!

Related posts:

My KonMari Journey – Part 1 
What you need to know before starting with the KonMari method
Should You Apply the KonMari Method for Your Printed Photos?

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 6

Wardrobe Detox - Day 6

You did it – congratulations! I’d love to see some before and after photos, please share them in the comment section of this post on Facebook or email them to me so I can celebrate with you!

Image of a happy dance

Before we celebrate though, I’ve got two more tasks for you:


Take one or several after photos.


Make sure that everything you want to donate leaves the house today! If you decided to sell a few things, diarise it right now so it doesn’t block the entryway for the next 6 months ;-). The same goes for things you want to pass on. Grab the phone and find a date in the near future to meet with the person who will receive the treasures you no longer want.

  1. Think about how you will maintain the order in your wardrobe as of today. Think routines and habits. For a starter, I suggest to strictly stick to the rule one in – one out!. Another important maintenance routine is to put everything back to where it belongs. Forget that floordrobe once and for all!

Now we’re ready to celebrate your achievement! A toast to you and your hard work – I hope you enjoy your ‘new’ wardrobe. 

Signature Chantal

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 5

Wardrobe Detox - Day 5

Today it should be easier than the two past sessions, since you’ve honed your decluttering skills and volume-wise, it’s also probably less … except if you ‘collect’ shoes 😉 ..

These are the last sub-categories to go through:

  • Hats / caps / beanies
  • Belts
  • Bags
  • Accessories (e.g. scarfs)
  • Shoes

Again, same process as before:


Take everything out.


Give the closet / shelves / containers a quick clean.


Declutter by asking the question: ‘Does it spark joy?’ and make piles according to your decision (keep, donate, sell, hand down, put in rubbish bin).


Re-think the zones and storage solutions, but don’t buy new storage solutions yet.


Keep like with like (as always) and put everything where it belongs.

By the way: hooks are great and don’t forget the back of a door as storage place.

If you find that you really do need new containers, dividers or other storage solutions you can go shopping :-). A word of caution though: always measure your space in which the storage product should fit!

Best wishes and see you tomorrow for the last little challenge,

Signature Chantal

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 4

Wardrobe Detox - Day 4

Hi there!

How did your first decluttering session go yesterday? Here we go again! This time you can tackle these things:

  • Outerwear (jackets, coats)
  • Underwear (undies, bras, singlets)
  • Socks (incl. panty hoses)
  • Robes
  • Swimwear
  • Sports wear

You will basically use the same process as before, which is:


Take everything out.


Give the closet / shelves / containers a quick clean.


Declutter by asking the question: ‘Does it spark joy?’ and make piles according to your decision (keep, donate, sell, hand down, put in rubbish bin).


Again, re-think the zones in your wardrobe and possible subdivisions for the smaller garments. If you need new dividers or containers, improvise with what you have at home and buy new storage solutions later. If you need some inspiration, check this out on Pinterest!


Fold everything neatly and enjoy the new look (for the Marie Kondo fans: check out this video)!

See you tomorrow for the last bit of decluttering :-). And don’t forget that you are more than welcome to share your progress and thoughts on Facebook!

Signature Chantal

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 3

Wardrobe Detox - Day 3

Are you ready to go? Let’s do it! Today and the next couple of days will be about decluttering and organising your wardrobe.

Image of the word Joy

You can either work in sub-categories as listed below, or you can wait until you’ll have received the two subsequent emails and do it in one big sweep. Up to you.


Take out all garments listed below from your wardrobe or wherever they are stored in the house. Throw it all on one pile. This is important so you can see how much exactly you have of each category.

– Tops (t-shirts, blouses, shirts, tank tops)
– Bottoms (long and short pants, leggings)
– Skirts
– Dresses
– Costumes / evening wear


Give the closet / shelves a quick clean.


Working through the sub-categories, take each piece in your hands and ask yourself this one question: ‘Does it spark joy? (read more about this method in this blog post). If this question doesn’t do it for you, click here to download and use my Wardrobe Detox Flowchart.


If it passes the test, it goes on the ‘keep’ pile. If not, decide here and now what to do with it – donate, sell, hand down, put in rubbish bin?


Before you put the ‘keepers’ back into the wardrobe, re-think your zones. Is it all going back to where it was or do you want to re-arrange things? Don’t forget to give the most accessible space to the garments you wear most often.


Put everything back neatly and enjoy the new look!

Happy decluttering!

Signature Chantal

Wardrobe Detox Challenge – Day 2

Wardrobe Detox - Day 2

How did the first day go? Did you have a chance to work on the vision? In case you missed yesterday’s email / blog post, I’m running a FREE wardrobe decluttering challenge this week to celebrate NOW (National Organising Week).

You can still join us and find the first challenge here if it’s not in your mailbox.

Now, let’s move on to the second step of this challenge.

Image of a donation box
Before you start decluttering (the most time consuming part of the process) I invite you to think about what you are going to do with the garments you no longer want or need.


Does it all go to charity? Would you like to sell some of the items? Can you hand it down to a friend or family member? I promise it will be much easier to let go of things if you know where they’re going.

If you want to donate it all – where will you take it? Or do you need someone to pick it up? If you are not a regular donor, think about a charity or cause you’d like to support and find their addresses and conditions. If you’re Melbourne based, you might find this list helpful.


If you want to sell it – check out the options, e.g. local Facebook Buy Swap and Sell groups, Gumtree, ebay, or think about commissioning someone to do the work for you. You’ll get less money but hey, your time is valuable, too!


If you want to pass it on to someone else – think about who might be interested.

Maybe it’s a no-brainer for you because you will donate everything to your usual op shop. If not, I invite you to do the necessary research and note the options you’re interested in.

Best wishes until tomorrow (when you’ll start the hands-on work!),

Signature Chantal

Sorting Printed Photos

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