Back in the day when we actually printed our pictures, I had quite the system. Much to my husband’s rejoicing, the photo system no longer includes rows and rows of scrapbooks.
Today’s post was inspired by a sweet gal I met through Sr. Elizabeth Ann. They happen to be identical twin sisters and I think they’re both pretty awesome. Katie, this post is for you!
By zero means is this brain dump meant to be authoritative. I’m not a professional photographer and I only pretend to be an organizer. It’s what works for us and I’m quite certain that in another six months we’ll probably be implementing some new things in the mix. For now, here’s how we do it.
Organizing Hard Copy Photos
- Cull it, baby. I went through my scrapbooks a few winters ago (it must’ve been a nesting thing before a baby) and cleared out every single dud of a picture. I had kept 10, even 20!, pictures of the same thing. I cut my book collection nearly in half.
- Label and sort your negatives. It’s never the hard copy photos that matter near as much as the film negatives. We keep them in a cool, dark place in the top of my craft closet. They’re all sorted by year and simply labeled with the event on the outside. Back when I used to reprint from negatives, this was quite a handy feature. Nowadays, it’s probably not as important, but I know what I’ll be grabbing in case of an emergency in our house. That negative box!
- Label and sort your books. I have a few books from childhood, but many of them still reside at my mom’s house. The ones that I have are labeled by month/year that the book starts and ends. The tricky part is remembering what year the event happened when I’m looking for a photo. The brain. It’s just not what it used to be.
- If you have important negatives, put them in a safety deposit box. I have a handful that are so important that they’re stored in a safe, far away from our home. That gives me peace of mind. It was a lesson I learned nearly 12 years ago when our house caught on fire. Some things you just can’t replace.
Organizing Digital Photos
- Delete, delete, delete. Before you sort any photos or put them into ANY filing system, delete the bad ones. I mean it. Did it take you 37 shots to get the one semi-decent Christmas card snapshot? Delete the other 36. Your computer hard drive will thank you later. I typically save this task for once a month and delete all those extraneous photos. Lest you think I’m all that and a bag of chips. I was eight, yes EIGHT, years behind on doing this. I attacked it with a vengeance this summer and deleted nearly 100MB off the computer. It’s slightly easier when you break it into monthly chunks.
- Find a filing system that works for you. For me, I have a few folders: Family, Holidays, School, Vacations, Home, Blog, Birthdays and Sacraments. You have to figure out what ways you access your photos and get a system that you understand and use. Don’t agonize over it too long. Just get them sorted and move on.
- Once you dump photos into a file, give it a number. Within every folder, I have a year, marked with two digits “01-January” that way they stay in chronological order. Within each folder, they are labeled by year/month/day taken, “2013-11-13”. It’s the former Mac user in me. My camera automatically downloads photos by day, so rather than try to combine all those and renumber them (too much time!), I leave them in their respective day folders and dump each one of those into a monthly folder.
- If you edit a photo, keep the original. I often edit my favorite photos, but I always, always keep the original. I used to rename the entire file but I found that I could never find the original digital image. Now, I rename it, but keep the photo number at the end. For example, “004.jpg” now becomes “firstday_004.jpg”.
- Don’t store other people’s photos. I often take pictures of kids that aren’t mine. Yes, I love doing it, but once I edit and send the photo, I delete it from my computer. Now, if my kids are in the photo, it’s a keeper. Otherwise, it hits the digital trash can.
- Back up your photo files. Often. We get too used to our computers just working. Then they don’t and we freak out. Don’t do that to yourself. There are loads of options, but here’s a few suggestions. You can upload them to a Shutterfly site. The benefit is sharing them with friends and family that may want the digital copies, too. Burn them onto an external hard drive and then store it off site. I update the files every few months and store the drive in our safety deposit box. I can’t even tell you how reassuring it is to have those digital images safely stored somewhere else in case something should happen here. I started adding a removable sticker on the drive with the date of the last update so all I have to do is add the new photos.
- By all means, print some of those pretties out and hang them on your walls, your fridge or tape them to your computer. Don’t let all your precious memories reside in your computer.
- Make it a book. Sites like Blurb and Shutterfly offer great deals this time of year for printing photo books. I know several folks who do a family yearbook to commemorate each year. Digital scrapbooking has come a long way, baby!
Like I said, that’s not a comprehensive list, but I hope it’s a start if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the digital monster. Set a small goal each week or month with a bigger goal in mind. You’ll eventually eat the elephant. I promise.
What do you do to tame your digital and print photos? I’d love to hear!