Remember when scrapbooking was the in thing? (Do people even say “in thing” anymore?) I was in college when I first tried my hand at scrapbooking my photos and, honestly, it was anything but cute. I recently came across that massive clunky binder documenting my first year of college and had two reactions. There was “Awwww, such great memories!” and then there was “Oh, my gosh, this thing is ridiculous.”
I usually blog about renovations or woodworking projects, but I wanted to share this because I also have a love for organization. And photography. When it comes to stuff, I like to try to toss whatever is not being used. But with photos it is not that simple. So what becomes of the
hundreds thousands of photos of childhood memories, family vacations, special occasions, and random candid moments?
How I organize photos
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I want to share how I organize all of those images taking up several gigs of space on my computer. Now, I’m no expert, but I do take a lot of photos. Really, a lot. What works for me is the simplest method possible, because if it gets to elaborate I end up with 20 different versions of “stuff folders” on my desktop.
First, sort by year
Here’s a screenshot of my pictures folder. It only goes back to 2011 on this computer. Here is what it looks like inside a folder.
I have files organized by month and, in some cases, by event. This makes it super easy for me to skim files if I am looking for a specific image. My memory is kind of awful, but with this method I have always been able to find whatever I was looking for, even if I was off by a month or two…or several.
I keep the current year’s file on my desktop for ease of access and simply add new files directly into the month or create a folder if it is an event or day I want to keep together. When I offload the images from my phone I follow the same system and sort them into their respective monthly folders. It only takes about five minutes to do, which is probably less time than I spend trying to find images to delete so my phone will stop telling me I’m out of storage space.
That’s it! How ridiculously simple is that? I have tried a lot of ways to do this over the past few years, but this is the only one that I have kept up with consistently.
A word about backing up your pictures
Guys, I am not a tech person. Like, not at all. But this much I believe in: You absolutely must back up your files. I am not going to go into a listing of the online storage sites available. There are plenty of sites that do that. Personally, I utilize Google to back up my files because, well, it’s Google. Simple and inexpensive. But I also back my computer up to an external hard drive every few months.
But what about enjoying your photos?!
I don’t believe photos are meant to be tucked into a corner and forgotten. On the flip side, have you ever sat through someone’s vacation slide show? True story, I fell asleep through one once.
Two words: Photo books.
I print a photo book for each year. Additionally, we have a photo book for the first year of both of our kids’ lives, one for our last home renovation, and one from our wedding. I recently utilized My Social Book to print everything from Facebook as well.
Yes, I sometimes worry that I will need a truck to carry all of the books that my kids will someday inherit, but like I said, I don’t keep a lot of other stuff, so they can deal with this. And, joking aside, both of my kids will have this to know that we loved them like crazy one day when we are gone.
The surprising thing about photo books is that people seem to enjoy looking at them. It has happened a few times now that a visitor will start looking through them and – are you ready for this? – not be bored. Take that, slideshow!
The biggest fans of our family photo books are our kids. They are 2 and 3 years old, and they love seeing pictures of themselves.
Finally, the books themselves are art. I print all of our photo books in the same size (12×12) so that they form a cohesive collection.
Who I use to print our photo books
In the past I have used a few different services to print books, and eventually landed on one I am happy with. I am not going to even attempt a review of services here, as others do that far better than I can. For me, Mixbook has ended up being my go to. Whatever photo book service you use I would recommend being consistent, as they will hold on to your creations for you. Additionally, I find it very helpful to save the format that I use for our year in review books. This saves me a ton of time when I go to put together the next year. (If you are interested in what we use for our yearly books, it is this one.)
That’s it! Our family loves the photo books. They are lovely little (or big) trips down memory lane. They are also a perfect decorative element that is about as personal as it gets, a great way to store photos, and a sweet reminder that life is pretty good when your kids are acting like hooligans.
A final word: Photo book publishers have great sales. I like to wait until Mixbook holds a 50% off sale to do my printing, which happens fairly regularly. My tip is to leave yourself lots of time to create your book, because it does take some time, and wait until a good sale to print. After that the hardest part is waiting for your photo book to come in the mail!
Thanks for reading, and happy photo organizing!