Back To Basics: Organizing Your Photos In A Digital World


Hi, my name is Melissa and I like to take photos. I have a problem but I am not about to change it. Currently my biggest problem is my phone doesn’t have the ability to store all the photos I take. But worse yet is having the backlog of printed photos sitting all in organized boxes and knowing that I want them all made digital.


I come from a family of photo takers. My mom was great at taking photos of me as a child. Not only did she take lots of photos, she also organized them all. Not only did she organize them all, but they all had who/what/where/when written on the back of them. What a gift! I too tried to carry the family torch of photo organizing. There was even a time that my negatives were all organized in sleeves. See, I really do have a problem.


So what do I do knowing that I want to get all of my photos made digital. If you saw how many photos I had….you would wonder if I ever put the camera down. Needless to say when our house was at a critical stage for flooding from the Red River a few years ago I took our SUV and loaded all of our photos and scrapbooks into it and drove it to high ground. And yes, the SUV was full.


My reoccurring nightmare is losing all my photos. But with the advances of technology I know that my photos that I am taking now are backed up in the cloud. So needless to say I am sleeping easier at night. But I still have this nagging feeling of all of my other photos that aren’t in the cloud. So I decided to take action….in baby steps. Now there are lots of online options for you out there. But we are just going to cover the basics here, think 101 level. If you are looking to get all of your photos stored digitally here are a few things to think about.


1. Gather all of your photos in one spot. You would be surprised to find how many photos you have tucked in the recesses of your house. Get them all together and while you are at it, take the photos out of the frames if you are not actively displaying them. Frames take up lots of space.


2. Start sorting into categories. Mine are all in chronological order. Some people group by holidays, vacations or family member. If this is not possible and you are overwhelmed, skip this step.


3. Get rid of all duplicates and all bad photos. Back in the day when we had to auto focus a camera we had plenty of bad photos. You know the one that I am talking about….where your eyes are closed or it is blurry.


4. Decide on your level of time and budget. If I had the budget I would pack up all my photos and drop them off to be scanned. I did this a few years ago and it cost me about $100 but I still had thousands of photos left. I used a service called PhotoBin where they sent me the box and I put the photos in and they scanned and sent them back to me. I would caution that you only use a service like this that is in the United States. I also saw that a local photo place in our mall is now offering this service.


We have a scanner, so we are doing it the old fashioned way. One picture at a time. So far we have gotten through half of a box and we have at least twenty more to go. My theory is….slow and steady wins the race. We will bite off small sections on weekends while watching a movie or catching up with our television shows.


Other options are to take a picture of each photos. Cameras are good and if your lighting is perfect this is a very fast option. I have done this with posting photos to this blog or to Facebook, a picture of a picture taken with my phone. You would never know that is how I capture it. So don’t get caught up in the details of having the perfect scanner.


5. Label. I like to be able to search for my photos and know what I am looking for. It makes no sense to me to have a bunch of numbers behind a photo that doesn’t mean anything to me. Your labeling may simply be a grouping of photos. So this grouping could be chronological or by person as well. Save in a file called 1993 or Christmas or Tyler. To me the worst thing I could do is to spend all the time scanning the pictures only to find out that I can’t find the pictures that I am looking for. So take some time at this step and figure out what sort of organizing makes sense to you. Think about if you were to put them in a filing cabinet how would you label the files?


6. Figure out your back up system. Now that you did all this work, you better make sure that you have a back up plan. For me it is cloud storage. For a friend she put them all on external hard drives and gave one to each of her children, GENIUS!


Now that you are done, think of your photos as your back up to your back up. Where before we had negatives, now think of your photos as your back up. And what should you do with your negatives now that your photos are all scanned? You guessed it….bye bye! Even my well organized ones.


To Joyful, Organized Living,


MS. Simplicity