Digital photo organization (combined with physical, printed photo organization) is a topic in the back of most people’s minds, and it can sometimes feel daunting to know where to begin or how to tackle such a huge project.
That’s exactly what we’re focusing on here today! I’ll be sharing a few of my personal best practices for digital photo organization, as well as tips for maintaining a solid photo routine and breaking a large project down into smaller sub-projects.
Quick Announcement! This Thursday, April 13th, at 9am Pacific, my mom (April) and I will be hosting a step-by-step training for parents on how to help teach organization to children/students. Everyone is invited, and we are so excited to share 4 simple ideas that have transformed my life and set me up for success as an organized adult. Click here to get the link/replay information!
Let’s get right into it!
I watched how my parents organized our family photos from a young age, and I knew that I wanted to keep and preserve my memories the same way. However, there were also a lot of sub-projects that I wanted to tackle to handle the “backlog” of photos that hadn’t quite been saved/preserved yet.
Step 1: Create a Routine to Organize Current & Future Photos
We’ll get to the specifics on photo backlog in just a minute, but my first step was creating a good routine for myself to deal with all current and future photos.
The process of creating a brand-new routine is a project and should be on either the Current Projects List or Next-In-Line Projects List.
I’ve outlined my photo process in this video below, and I hope that it gives you an idea of what is possible in terms of long-term photo storage on external hard drives. (All relevant links and favorite tools/supplies are linked at the end of this post.)
Once my photos are safely on my external hard drives (detailed in the video), I upload my pictures to Google Photos so they are easier to access and look at on a regular basis. Google Photos is just one of many great tools for online photo organization, and I have heard great things about those using Dropbox, iCloud storage, Amazon Photos, and so on.
I also love categorizing my photos into photo albums within Google Photos so that I can quickly jump to a specific moment of time.
Step 2: Outline Sub-Projects to Tackle Photo Backlog
Most of us have smaller sub-projects that we need to address when it comes to photos from the past or a lack of an organizational system. Here are a few things that might need to happen as examples–these would all be individual sub-projects (under the umbrella of “total photo organization” as the large end goal project). These might go on your Next-In-Line or Someday Projects List depending on your ability to work on them:
- Go through old files of photos and assign names/dates for consistency
- Purchase an external hard drive (or research the method that you’d like to use for long-term photo storage)
- Transfer all digital photos to said hard drive or storage location (this can be done in small, Next Actions!)
- Make a copy of these hard drives and give one to each child/sibling where applicable
- Move photos into special albums for big life events, vacations/trips, and other categories that you’d like to reference
- Research scanning tools or a local business that can help digitize all of my printed photos
- Create a process for getting these newly scanned pictures onto my hard drive/online storage platform
- Ask parents/friends if they have any pictures that I might not have access to yet–create a plan to acquire these photos in order to “complete” my collection
As you can see, there are a lot of smaller projects that can come to mind from this overall project of photo organization.
When you identify these small, sub-projects, they don’t seem quite as daunting. This is how I’ve tackled my goal of getting all of my favorite family photos onto Google Photos over time. I started this project in August 2021 and am just finishing this project this week in April 2023!
One might look at this timeline and think that it took me way too long to accomplish this project, but in reality, I was able to use small, next actions to break the project down into manageable, bite-sized pieces. I was able to make progress on this project in the midst of a lot of life changes–getting married, moving a couple times, finishing up and graduating from college, and expecting a baby this summer. I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made on this project, and I was never stressed out by the thought of needing to simplify certain parts of it during the busy seasons of life.
I hope that this was a helpful resource, and I’d love to hear your favorite photo organization practices in the comments! 🙂
Related Links: (including Amazon affiliate links)
- Empower Students Step-by-Step Training on April 13th
- Our favorite external hard drives
- My younger brother has been scanning family photos for my parents and has been hired by a few neighbors to help digitize theirs as well. This photo scanner is an investment, but has been extremely well used by our family over the past couple years.
- STEP Mastery Program – Digital Photo Organization in the STEP Library
- Free Training: How to Finally Stop Drowning in Piles