Are you one of those people who rushes in with a new set of photographs and immediately starts organizing thgem into albums and scrapbooks? Or . . . are you one of those people who has shoeboxes of jumbled photographs sitting in the closet and maybe a few folders on your desktop filled with pictures whose titles (if they even have titles) make no sense to you anymore? Do you tell yourself that “one day” you’ll sit down and go through them and get all your irreplaceable memories organized?
Would it help if you even knew where to begin? How about if you had a list of simple steps that would break down the process and walk you through everything?
It would? Well, here you go then:
Like with just about every other organizational process, you should begin with decluttering. Go through your pictures and eliminate any that you don’t want to keep. The one with your finger on the lens and the one that is out of focus and the five back-up shots you took “just in case.” Get rid of them now: It will save you a lot of organizing and labeling time later.
Note: Another way to save yourself a little effort is to delete photos while they’re still in your camera’s memory before you download them.
2. Name the Photo Files
You want your photo files to be easy to search, so use descriptive names. Will you remember that HP1M67222.JPG is your favorite picture of you and your husband in Hawaii? If you remember that kind of thing, you probably aren’t reading an organizing blog. Include details in your photo titles that will help you find specific pictures. For example, don’t title a picture Family_reunion_2009.jpg when you took 30 pictures at the reunion; try something like Grandma_reunion_2009.jpg.
Note: As with most organizing, keeping up with things will make things easier down the road, so make it a practice to name your photos as soon as you download them.
3. Label the Photos
Just like you should name digital photos as you download them, you should label photos when you get them, but since you’re probably catching up now, just label every blank photo as you come to it. Even if your memory is a little fuzzy about the picture, do the best you can. And be sure to use an acid-free photo-safe pencil or pen (available at photo and art supply stores) to label them with.
Note: If you’re short on time as you’re sorting, you can batch them by putting them in envelopes you’ve labeled with the date and name of the event.
4. Folders for Digital Photos
If you want make searching for digital photos really easy and you have the time, you can “tag” them, but that’s not really within the scope of this post. Instead, I’ve got a couple of different ways you can use folders to organize them.
- The first way to systemize your photo folder is by year. Make a folder for each year with subfolders within it for the months.
- If you don’t have that many pictures or don’t need that kind of detail, create a folder for each season. If you have special events within the season, you can always add subfolders within it for the them.
- Depending on your thought processes (the idea is to make searching easy for you), maybe it makes more sense for you to organize by theme, e.g, family, travel, holidays, etc.)
Note: No matter how you decide to organize your photos, be sure to be consistent. If you aren’t, you will quickly find yourself back in the jumbled-in-shoeboxes scenario.
Once you’ve gotten your photos organized, you’re probably going to find yourself looking at them more often and wanting to share them with family and friends. One easy way to do that is by batching them on DVDs you can pass along. Or set up a shareable online photo album or even create a personalized gift such as a calendar or coffee mug. Check online for services that can help you.