Organize Your Photos

Remember the old days? When you had to pack your camera around to take pictures?

We thought we photo organizing issues back then!!!

Now that our camera is a feature of the smart phone we keep with us at all times, research shows that on average we are taking over 20 pictures a day.

What does that mean?

It means our photos are fast becoming a source of clutter in our lives.

But the good news is that with a simple system, organizing our photos doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It’s all about getting organized, of course. Let’s just look at 3 simple steps to get us started:


Step 1: Decide WHERE to store your photos.

Experts agree that when it comes to securely accessing and preserving your photos, you should store them in two places: a hard drive in your home and a backup in the cloud.

Let’s talk first about the hard drive you keep in your physical possession. Because pictures require so much storage space, a large external hard drive is a great choice. Once your photos are uploaded to that hard drive, you’ll also want to consider the extra safety precaution of storing the hard drive in a fire-proof safe. Click HERE to see the external hard drive I recommend and HERE for a fireproof safe.

When it comes to the cloud (or storing your pictures on the internet instead of your computer or a hard drive) there are a lot of good options. But my favorite is Google Photos because it’s so EASY! Here are some great features of Google Photos:

  • Uploading (and backups) are automatic, so you never have to think about transferring photos from your device.
  • Sharing pictures with friends with friends is simple
  • Easily access to your photos from any device
  • Storage isn’t ever a problem because Google Photos offers unlimited space.
  • Search for a specific photo using a date, someone’s name, objects, places, or events  And don’t worry, if using Google Photos sounds overwhelming or intimidating, I have included a link HERE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEJH0n6xuJk

…And don’t worry, if this feels overwhelming or intimidating, I have included a link HERE that can help you get started with Google Photos. I really think you’ll be surprised by how simple it is!


   Step 2: Decide HOW to organize your photos.

While Google Photos automatically uploads your photos by date, you can think outside the box when it comes to organizing your pictures on your external hard drive. Though it is most popular to organize photos by date, I have found that when creating photo books, I prefer to organize pictures under people and events. This makes it easiest for me to locate the images I will want to feature in photo books. This is how it works for me:

  1. Create a new folder for each year.
  2. Under each year, create a folder for each person.
  3. Store specific events in each person’s folder. For example, in the 2020 folder I would create a folder for “Kate.” And then I would create a folder called “First loose tooth” and upload all relevant pictures there. Then when I am creating Kate’s photo book, I can use the picture folders to remind me about the events I want to scrapbook, and I have every picture needed sitting in that folder.
  4. I also create a “Family” folder, and then create subfolders for vacations, holidays, and miscellaneous.

If you aren’t creating photo books, organizing by date will likely be simpler. But if you are willing to do a little extra categorizing during the uploading, creating the photo book will be a cinch!


Step 3: Decide WHEN to organize your photos.

This is really the most critical step. Uploading and organizing your pictures on a regular basis is going to be the key to having photos you can locate and enjoy.

If you’ve been around me much, it won’t surprise you to hear me say this…

The easiest way to be consistent is by creating a routine and using a trigger to help you remember.

For example, every Sunday I organize my week by going over my calendar and setting my goals. This weekly planning has become my trigger to also organize any photos taken from the previous week. I will upload photos from all my devices, delete duplicates and other photos I don’t need, and sort them into appropriate folders. Because I do it weekly, the whole process usually takes less than 10 minutes.

To create your own routine and trigger, ask yourself what you do on a weekly or monthly basis that could give you a natural time to organize your photos. Maybe it’s paying the bills, balancing the checkbook, going through the mail, or even ear-marking the last weekend of the month as your photo time.

When choosing this routine, consider your own personal energy rhythms. You’ll set yourself up for success if you select a time when you naturally feel motivated and disciplined. For example, if you are a night owl you might want to schedule a regular appointment with yourself each Sunday night. If you like to rise and shine, perhaps you could make organizing your photos a Saturday morning routine. Whatever it looks like for you, chipping away at your photos on a regular basis is what will keep those photos organized and in a place where you can enjoy them.

In summary…

It’s less about finding the PERFECT system and more about finding a way that works and sticking with it. Technology changes so rapidly that there will always be a new and improved way to store your photos. But what will really benefit you in the years to come is having a consistent strategy and being committed to it.

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