How to Organize Your Photos


Every fall we give you a list of 12 reasons to Fall In Love With Fall.  This Fall we are taking it to the next level and celebrate Fall for the full 90 days.  We will be tweeting, tumbling, pinning, and blogging about our favorite things about fall.  Even though it is officially Fall, Summer is still fresh in our minds, mostly because we haven't quite put Summer away.  Why not spend the evening with a big glass of wine, and a walk down memory lane.


Sorting Your Photos

For your digital photos grab all of your memory cards, and devices.  Sync everything into your computer.  If you’ve already got a photo management system use that. 

Gather all your loose pictures.  Take them out of frames, drawers, boxes, take them off the fridge, clean up your inspiration board.  Next find a large clean surface and spread out.

While your sorting through your digital photos, print out the your favorites.  If you don't feel like using your printer check our PDF for great off site printing options. Most digital photos never see a frame or photo book.  It’s time for memories to be more than a desktop background or screen saver. 

While you are sorting, toss any photos that are out of focus, off center, or where a finger is blocking half the photo.  Don’t toss photos just because you don’t like your hair, top or ex-boyfriend. 20 years from now you will wish you had the memories. Remember the goal is to sort the photos, not to get distracted by the memories. So, set a timer to keep yourself in check. Set aside your personal favorites for later. 

If you have duplicates or the same shots in a few different angles pick the best ones and ditch the rest.  If you don’t want to toss the photos put them in a envelope and pass them on to friends or family in the pictures.   For your digital duplicates back them up on a thumb drive, and don't forget to e-mail special memories to friends and family.  One persons clutter is anothers treasure.

Now that you’ve sorted your photos and picked your favorites update all of those frames that you gathered.  Keep your Summer memories out in full display.  Because come December when its pitch black at 4:30 in the afternoon you are going to need a little something to keep you going. 

Organizing Your Photos

The easiest way to organize your photos its to sort them by year and get more specific from there.  Once you got things divided by year, break them down into months.  Once you are into months events will just pop out. 

After each event is identified go through the photos and label them.  You are going to want to add all the important information because you never know when your neatly organized system might get messed up.  For  non digital photos make sure you are using a acid free photo safe pen.  Label each photo with Year - Month - Event - Names Of People In Event.  If there is a great story behind the photo add that as well.  For digital photos this can be added to the notes.  Other options for labeling include Location, GPS, Time and Camera Info.  Most digital photos already have a lot of this information embedded.  

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, scan all of your loose photos.  By making your loose photos digital you can easily sort, print, crop, edit, and label all of your memories. 

Storing Your Photos

Albums & Photo Books make trips down memory lane easy.   But not all albums and photos are created equal.  Most contain an adhesive to keep the photos in place and protect the images.  After a few years your images my start to fuse with the book.  This makes taking them out of album very difficult, and could result in you losing your precious memories.  Some albums don't rely on glues and films but they suffer from the down side of photos that never seem to stay put.  Which is why I think Photo Books are the best option out there.  If you scan all of your photos you can easily arrange them how you would like and add detailed captions.  The best part is you never have to risk losing your loose photos. 

Photo Boxes are great way to organize loose photos.  Each box can be dated by year, month or event.  From there you can break photos in to any groups you see fit.  For those of you who just can't part with duplicates this will make your life much easier.  


Digital Photos Software Adobe and Apple, along with many more have all created software to make storing and editing images on your computer easy.  Most digital cameras even come with their own software to help you get organized.  Since most software keep the photos stored on your hard drive you need make sure you are constantly backing up.  For those of you using Apple Time Machine is your best friend and while there isn't a built in PC option, Genie Time Line is great. Even with the best of backing up, things can still go wrong.  This is where online storage comes in handy.  Google has Picasa, Yahoo has Flickr and you have Facebook and Smug Mug.  With each services come a list a pros and cons, so make sure you triple check before committing to one.  Things to look for included size limit, privacy settings, price, editing, and sharing capabilities, upload rates, desktop options.   Remember not all online services are created equal.

Binders & Inserts As for your Negatives, look into archive safe 3 ring binder Inserts.  They keep your negatives safe, easy to organize and make storage a breeze.

Memory Boxes are great for the odds and ends that you just don't have a home for.  Stick with the Year, Month And even sorting to keep things simple.  

This can seem like a lot of information to take in so I've created a simple PDF for you to download.  It includes all the tips you've seen here, along with a check list, and a list of links to get you sorted, organized and stored.  

Maybe you’re not ready to put away Summer, if that’s the case check out our tips on giving Summer it’s Last Hurrah!

Series: Resource List - Sorting, Storing, & Displaying Your Photos