Simple Steps for Organizing (and Printing!) Your Digital Photos

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

As you know, I take a lot of photos.  And as we approach the end of 2013, I thought I would share with you how I organize my digital and printed photos (thousands of them).

I'm not a big scrapbook or photo album person.  So my blog serves as my favorite way to photojournal my family.  But for the other thousands of photos that I don't share here on this blog (you're welcome), I have a very simple system for organizing them all.

First of all, I don't use iPhoto (gasp!).  I just use my regular computer filing system.  I have just found that to be way easier to work with for blogging purposes. 

Here are my Basic Steps to Organizing & Printing Digital Photos:

1.  UPLOAD FREQUENTLY // About once a week, I upload all my photos from my camera to my computer.  I know that may sound frequent to you, but because I take so many and I like to look at them and edit them right away, it is often once or twice a week.  Just remember that if you wait for months and months to upload those pictures, you will often forget when they were taken.  I am a stickler for knowing which month and year a photo was taken in!  Another tip: Make sure you keep your camera cord in a designated spot so there's no chance you'll lose it and consequently give up on uploading.  Out of sight, out of mind.

2.  MOVE TO LABELED FILES BY MONTH & YEAR // Once uploaded, I immediately move them into a folder labeled with the month that the photo was taken.  For example "November 2013".  And for major events, I may create a sub-folder inside that such as, "Thanksgiving 2013". Note that I don't move all of the photos I've taken into these folders.  I try to limit it to only the ones I really love.  This means that just because I've taken 20 shots of my son riding around on his Power Wheels, doesn't mean I keep all 20.  I try to limit it to only 3 or 4 of the best.  This doesn't always happen.  And let's be honest, sometimes I just can't narrow it down because they're all too cute!  But I am a purger by nature, so usually it's not hard for me to skim the rest and discard any blurry or duplicate ones.  Doing that extra step each time, will save you some headaches later on.

3.  CHOOSE YOUR VERY FAVORITE PHOTO FROM EACH WEEK OF THE YEAR // This is what I call my "Project 52", where I choose one photo a week for the entire year and save them in a separate "special" folder.  There are 52 weeks in the year, so that means I have a whole year documented in just 52 photos. Don't take at least one photo each week? No biggie.  Just set aside as many favorites as you have to represent that year of your family's life.

4.  PRINT ONLY THOSE 52 FAVORITES // This is my way of not stressing about printing out a million pictures.  I typically wait until Shutterfly has a huge sale offering 100 free prints and then only print my 52 favorites each year.  This is obviously a personal preference.  But for me, I don't mind storing and viewing most of my photos on my computer.  Only the most special ones get printed.  If you like more, print more!  The key is to do it at least once a year so it doesn't get too overwhelming.

5.  FIND CUTE ALBUMS AND FILL THEM ONCE A YEAR // I know many people do photo books these days and I think they are great.  But quite honestly, I find that they take too long to create!  So I found these fun small albums at Target for $6 each (pictured below), and wouldn't ya know...they have 52 pages.  I buy a new one each year in a different color. 

6.  BACKUP YOUR PHOTOS ONTO AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE // Finally, after all that work of uploading and organizing, please make sure to back them all up to an online service or external hard drive.  I do this at least once a month and use Apple's Time Machine program.

And please don't stress about it.  I may be good about organizing my digital photos, but that's only because I enjoy photography so much.  You should see my kitchen cabinets. Ack!  We all have our different strengths. ;)

Have any other tips I didn't mention!?  Please let me know in the comments!



  1. Seems we share the exact same filing system :) although I print out enough photos to fill a large album.

    Here's another tip.....always get doubles...that way when you kids have school projects that require photos you can take one of your fav's and not have a blank spot in the album :)

    Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  2. So helpful! (Hopefully so motivating :))

  3. Wow! That is an awesome idea! I have been overwhelmed with what to do with all my favorite photos and this sounds like the perfect option! I love those cute photo album books too. :)

  4. This is a great idea. I tend to keep too many of the 'same ones', so its a great reminder to only keep a few.


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