If you’re anything like my mother, you have a few shoe boxes and plastic bags full of old photos in a closet somewhere. You remember film cameras right? Considering that most of the photos are blurry and overexposed, why not take a trash can and go through them. Get rid of all the horrendous shots and end up with a box or folder of “keepers.”
After all the trashing and sorting, get yourself some photo albums, preferably with acid-free paper. I recommend the Pioneer bi-directional album that has acid-, lignin-, and PVC-free archival-quality paper and holds 300 photos. How you sort the pictures is up to you. A general chronological order is an easy method that makes a lot of sense. You could also sort into categories (i.e. College, Vacations, Childhood, Family, etc.).
Another thing: what do you do with all those negatives? Trash them. Unless you’re a pro or hobbyist photographer, you won’t need them for archival purposes. What if your photos get damaged, I hear you say. Well, the negatives are next to the pictures, so it’s not like they’ll fare better in a flood or fire. You don’t need negatives to make duplicates since there are tons of places, starting with the local discount store, that can duplicate from a print. You can even skip prints by going digital.
If you want to go all the way and really minimize, skip the physical albums altogether and go straight to digital. There are a number of services out there like DigMyPics.com that will scan your negatives or prints and return them to you on a CD-ROM or DVD. Then you can trash all your old physical media. Don’t feel guilty about it. Any time you want a print you can just make one.