Thanks to smartphones, people now take over one trillion digital images each year. Whether you print your photos or save them digitally, organizing all of them can seem like an impossible task.
However, there are good reasons why you might want to organize your family photos. When you can quickly find your photos, it's much easier to save, share, post or print them. An organizational system ensures that the photos you love from one holiday are not buried in the depths of your smartphone or attic, never to be seen again.
Whether the family includes children, significant others, pets or a group of super close friends. Organize your photos so you can easily access your memories for years to come.
How to organize digital photos
When you think about organizing photos, your mind probably goes to a bunch of glossy prints waiting for a home in a photo album. But for many people today, the vast majority of their images are on the phone, computer or online. So let's start with how to sort out the digital images.
Start deleting photos
A good place to start is to change your photo tabs. One of the most useful steps you can use to organize digital photos is to delete photos regularly.
This does not mean that you have to get rid of pictures you like. But when you take a large set of pictures, take a few minutes the same day to look through them and delete the bad ones. All images that are blurry, flattering, too dark or otherwise not worth preserving can be deleted right away so that the phone is not full of sub-images.
Anytime you have a few minutes ̵
Use digital albums
Your smartphone and computer allow you to add photos to albums. Use that tool regularly! Give the albums some specific name, such as "Trip to Atlantic City," and consider adding dates to each one so you know when it happened.
You can also use albums to organize your photos in any way that makes sense to you. For example, you can give each family member an album on your phone, so you can quickly find a specific photo of that person when you need it. Or you can organize photos into albums by month and year, so you can easily find a photo based on the date.
Find a Photo Organizer Tool
If you already have thousands of photos on your phone or other device, organizing them can seem almost impossible. However, there are many photo organization programs that help automate parts of the process.
Experiment with a few alternatives until you find one that works for you. We particularly like Mylio. It's free, syncs photos from different devices and platforms, and organizes them by date with your calendar app. It can even sort your photos by who's in them with face recognition software.
Have a backup system
No matter how or where you organize your digital photos, you must always have a backup system. You can upload your photos to the cloud or save them to an external hard drive. It is often tempting to think of digital images as permanent. However, if you only store them in one place, there is always a risk that they may be permanently lost or deleted. Having multiple backup systems is also a good idea. For a serious look at multi-layered photo backup strategies, check out our guide to bullet-proof backups on sister site How-To Geek.
It takes both time and diligence to organize your digital photos. For starters, you may need a few hours a week to get your photos in order. Try to stay updated on sorting, deleting and backing up every new photo you take.
It's up to you how much time and energy you spend on this project, but it can take some work to organize the entire photo collection. You can also hire a professional photo organizer if you want someone to take the job away.
How to organize printed images
For most people, digital photo organization is the most daunting task, since digital images tend to pile up faster than print. But if you frequently print your photos or have a comprehensive collection from before the smartphone era, you may want to get them organized.
Gather Your Photos
To organize physical photos, you can start by collecting them all in one place. Pull the old boxes, envelopes and albums with pictures from wherever they hide and put them in one place so you can see what you're working on.
Sort your photos
Now, sort through your photos one by one and decide which ones you want to keep. Just like your digital photos, you can get rid of bad or pointless pictures or duplicates (it's a good idea to save the duplicate of photos you really love, though.)
Sort the remaining pictures into piles depending on what you plan to do with them. For example, you may have a pile of ones you want to display in frames, ones you want to add to albums, and ones you plan to store. For your most special photos, you may want to write the location and date they were taken in a photo-safe pencil on the back.
Finally, sort through each pile and decide how to organize it. For example, you may want to separate photos by date, location, or who is in them. This way, when you put them in albums or boxes, they are in a logical order.
When sorting your photos, be sure to touch the edges as much as possible. Otherwise, the oils from the fingers can gradually destroy the image. You can also wear gloves during this task.
If you are planning to scan your print photos so you can get digital copies, consider organizing them into albums (or file boxes) that have a place to write notes next to each photo. That way, you can pull out your favorites, scan them, and note that you did. If you work in small groups, you can get all your best pictures in digital format over time.
Put your photos away
Now it's time to place your photos where they belong according to how you sorted them.
If you use albums, use them with clear plastic sleeves instead of self-adhesive pages, as the glue will damage images over time. For storing boxes, you can get archive photo boxes to keep them safe. Remember that albums take up much more space than boxes.
When you put your photos away, try to keep them organized according to the system you decided earlier. For example, if you have organized by date, put your photos in chronological order as much as you can.
Store your photos somewhere cool, dry and dark to last longer. If you hang a picture on your wall, try to keep it out of direct sunlight, which fades in color.
Organizing your family photos is no small task, so divide it into sections – don't try to do it all in one day. When you're done, organizing your new photos won't be difficult. And the satisfaction of completing this organizational challenge can be well worth it!
For ideas on what to do with your photos after you sort them, don't miss this post.