Let's get organized! (Well let's try)

December 31, 2015

I have been asked a few times this holiday season how I organize photos.  I thought that since the New Year is all about new beginnings, this would be the perfect time to share a few ways you can start off 2016 a little more organized (at least when it comes to your photos).  The good news is any digital camera adds dates to your photos in the data, so when you upload it does so in chronological order.  Also, many people make albums on social media sites like Facebook by season/family events.   When going back to organize photos from the past, I would rely on these tools.  However, I suggest not trying to go back and organize everything at once, especially if you have never done any organizing.  I suggest starting with setting up 2016.  Get your organization system down and then go back bit by bit when you have time.  This is the same method I suggested for making photo books in a previous blog post.

I love making photo books for several reasons.  First, it keeps piles of pictures from just sitting there.  Second, it helps give your precious images context.  Lastly, it is something I do for myself.  Obviously, I love taking pictures.  To print out every cute shot of my kids or pictures of every little day trip to the zoo or the city would be too much.  Who has that many frames!?  I love making a book for each year.   This allows me to print all these great shots, but also give them meaning.  For example, when my daughter lost her first tooth, I have a page from the day she lost her tooth.  It also has several cute backyard pictures of my kids playing with one of the big grins sans tooth.  I then wrote the date in below the picture.  I love being able to tell the whole story of the day and have a place to write down the date of this milestone so I will not forget.

Back to organizing your photos.  First you need to regularly download them!  I was with someone this fall and they told me they missed taking many pictures at their youngest child's birthday party, because they had over a 1000 pictures on their camera that weren't uploaded!  People, that is crazy.  If you fall into this category, this is the first step to getting organized.  Download those photos regularly.  I do not have a set time/day I always do downloading.  I am a picture nerd who likes to organize, share, and work on my photo books.  However, if you are less nerdy then me, might I suggest adding in a "download photos/organize them" on your "to do list" for after a big party just like cleaning the dishes or after a vacation just like unpacking and doing laundry.  You could also set a reminder in your phone once a month on a Sunday evening or another quiet time in your life.

Actually organizing the photo on your computer is not that hard, if you download them regularly.  I organize by season.  So I will have four folders for this year Spring 2016, Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Winter 2016 (this folder will also hold January and February pics from 2017).  I prefer organizing by season rather than month because as time passes between me and these life events it makes the pictures easier for me to find.  I can not always remember what month a vacation happened in, but whether it was hot or snowing I can handle.  Then within the season folders, I will have several subfolders of big events like vacations, birthdays, or special outings like our annual trip to the pumpkin farm.  I do not keep every photo in a subfolder.  Lots of the small every day moment pictures are just under the seasons/year folder.  As time passes I take my four season folders and put them in a folder just with that year's heading.  I also tend to organize my work photos in a similar manner.  Every family has a folder by last name.  At the end of the year, I put all of those folder into one folder with the year's heading.

Finally, I recommend printing photos and backing them up on an external hard drive.  One of my fellow preschool moms dropped her phone in the toilet and lost three years of her kids pictures she never downloaded/backed up!  I would be heartbroken just like she was to lose so many precious memories.  Electronics are fragile and things happen, please save to multiple sources and get yourself hard copies of ones that are really meaningful to you.

I certainly do not have the only method for organizing photos.  I have found after years of serious picture taking this method has worked nicely for me.  I do tend to get asked by lots of family to email pictures to them after the fact.  That is an easy task for me, because I can quickly find the photo in question.  This also makes creating my photo books much easier.  Lastly, I love to go back and look at picture of my peanuts from when they were little and enjoy their cuteness.  Who doesn't like doing that!?  Now enjoy a few photos of my peanuts from what seems like just yesterday, but was really almost three years ago!  Time really flies doesn't it?