all about photo organization

Nov 18

today’s i’m talking all about photo organization. i know, YAY! i can hear some of my personal friends who read along in here cheering “fiiiiiinally, sam!”.

as a child, my mom snapped a lot of photos. to showcase our family photos she used those sticky-paged photo albums. you know the old albums with the clear plastic cover sheet that you pull back from the sticky page? and once you added your photos you had to make sure the plastic cover sheet was placed back down perfectly…or you got those horrible bubbles? yes, those albums!

now (ahem…) 30-something years later, those albums haven’t held up very well. my siblings and i enjoy looking back on our childhood memories, but the photos have that awful yellow color…and many of them can’t even be removed from the albums for fear of tearing! my mom….*sigh*…she did her best. can’t blame her!

i’ve followed in my moms footsteps and love to not only take photos, but i love to add them to photo albums and create scrapbooks. however, i don’t always have the time to do that. one day all of my photo albums and scrapbooks will be perfect and complete. until then, i do my best to keep them safely preserved and organized.
since i have recently been sharing a lot of those awesome FREE and inexpensive photo offers, i have a ton of photos waiting to be filed away. yes, i take advantage of those offers too! my order of 300 photos arrived yesterday. so while i’m sorting and filing them away, i figured it might be helpful if i shared my photo organization process with you.
yup, here they are in all their glory!…
it’s only fair to share since i roped you into finally printing those pictures from the last month…last year…or even several years ago. ๐Ÿ˜‰
did you take advantage of any of those offers? if so, what have you done with your prints?
here is my process for organizing these prints once they arrive!
i store all of my photos and collections (will explain this below) in our office closet. here they are in photo boxes on the shelf…

as far as photo boxes go, i like to purchase the acid and lignin free photo boxes from Michael’s Craft stores. these are frequently on sale. a couple weeks ago i bought 3 photos boxes for only $5.00! ….

since i like to re-purpose my storage and organization items, i find it’s best for me to use a post-it note, as opposed to affixing a permanent label onto the front of these photo boxes. that way, once the year 2011 is over and i put all of the photos into an album (see album below), i can re-use this box for 2012.

another way to save money and re-purpose…is to not add the year to the photo dividers….

every year i am able to re-use these dividers because i haven’t written the year on them…instead, i only write the month.

this year i had printed photos up through half of August….

that is, until those snapfish offers came around! the large print order i placed through snapfish allowed me to print the rest of August, all of September, and most of October.

[yes, i do take a lot of photos….but September and October tend to be big photo months in this house – we usually travel back home in September for my mom’s birthday and our 7year old’s birthday is in October. add in Halloween and a bunch of other fall activities – you can get really close to 300 photos!]

next, i get myself set up at our computer…yes, a Starbucks red cup is a requirement! my addiction is a non-fat peppermint mocha.

we own an iMac and i utilize iPhoto as a means to organize our photos. when i place an order through any print website, i create an album in iPhoto and push the photos into that album. this way, when the prints arrive, i can easily figure out which month i took the photos….thus, making the photo sorting go much faster!

[sidenote: when you print through snapfish, the date will not print on the back of the photo. i tend to print the majority of my everyday photos via snapfish, and they never come perfectly sorted. however, if you want to avoid this extra step, shutterfly prints the date on the back on their photos.]

here you can see i have August, September and October right here under “albums”…

and if i ever have an issue figuring out when a photo was taken, this little info section down here tells me exactly what date it was. so my photos from april never get sorted away with photos from october…

here is my september album…

all i do is sort them into 3 piles…August, September and October….

i just keep sorting my order until it’s done. and then file each pile of photos into their divided section…

that’s it! when i’m done sorting and putting them into the photo box, i put the box back on the shelf in the office closet. i try my best to stay on top of photo printing at least every 2-3 months. even if there isn’t a great print deal being offered, i will print photos. if i let the printing go too far off, then i’m really swimming in photo printing and things tend to get disorganized for me.

once you have a photo org system in place, putting away any photos you print shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes. today it took be about 15 minutes to sort and put our photos into the photo box. that was it. a very quick one-a-day!

[i also want to mention the importance of keeping a back-up of your photos if you store them digitally on your computer. trust me, a hard drive can crash any day – it’s happened to us before. thankfully, we run a back-up hourly on our iMac that is called “time machine”. when our hard drive crashed and we had it replaced, everything was there on the back-up drive.

but i take it even a step further. although i keep all of my photos on our iMac and back them up hourly, i also upload our photos to snapfish or other photo sites. that way should something happen to our back-up drive…the photos are at least somewhere else, other than sitting on our home computer or in photo albums.]



now that i’ve shared my process for storing/organizing our photos…i’ll take it a step further and share how i book them at the end of the year.

for a long time i had just been printing photos and placing them in photo boxes. i wasn’t putting the photos into albums because i had not found a “perfect album”. when i say a perfect album, i mean a perfect album for me and my family. also, i had been wavering between creating one big annual family album or creating individual annual albums for each of the kids. i really didn’t know which way i wanted to go with the whole photo book thing. it’s so hard to decide because once you start a trend, you want to keep it up.

trust me, many times i started something, didn’t like it, and then had to start from scratch all over again. i don’t like to do that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

and it doesn’t help that there is no lack of fun and inspiring ideas to be found online!

finally, after much debate and discussion with myself, i decided it would be best to create annual family albums. then should there be a special occasion, i would create a scrapbook to showcase that event. (see more on that below!).

after researching photo albums for months on end….literally….i found what i think is the perfect photo album. again, perfect for my little family. it’s the Charter Album from Exposures….

here were the major selling points that won me over…

  • it is available in an oversized, extra-capacity version….which means when i have a year with an abundance of photos (up to 900 or more – which i easily had each year our children were born!), the album will fit them all
  • i also like that the pages are customizable by you…all you do is choose the pages you prefer
  • a biggie – the album is totally safe for your photos. you can feel confident in knowing your photos won’t turn yellow over years of storage
  • the cover and spine can be personalized
  • and finally, the albums have a clean, classic look that will last a lifetime
i discovered these albums in 2009, so i only have 2009 and 2010 completed…here they are sitting on a shelf in our office…

i have our albums created with a 2-line personalized cover…

and add a spine patch that includes the year on it…

since i enjoy journaling in our albums, i chose to include a few pages with cards for adding notes….

now, i know you’re probably thinking “i love exposures, too…but they are so expensive!”. yes, you’re correct. they are up there in price…but these are high quality (important to me) and they offer great sales! they currently have a sale going on; 25% off your entire order plus a flat shipping fee of $9.99 when your order is over $75.

[i received this offer because i am on their e-mail list. be sure to sign up to receive e-mail offers from them and you will receive the same! i would share my code, but they are personalized and only good for one order. sorry!]

personally, our family photos and albums are a priority. this is an area of our life that is really important to me and i thinks it’s completely worth the investment. i ALWAYS wait until the end of the year to place an album order because not only do i know exactly how many photos i need to book – which means i will know how large of an album and how many photo pages to order – but also because exposures has some of their best sales at this time of year.

so given that offer i mentioned above, i will likely be ordering our 2011 album in the next couple days.

and i am slowly working backwards until i have all of our photos in these albums. we started a family in 2004 so little by little i will work my way backwards….until i’m done. and again, i will only buy them on sale.

since i mentioned “collections” above…i thought i would quickly share what that means.
are you still with me? hope this post isn’t too overwhelming for you!
if i have an extra special event/photos, i create a scrapbook. i absolutely love looking at scrapbooks and have the worst scrapbook-envy when i see some of them out there. but i do not have the time to dedicate to scrapbooking on a regular basis.
anyone nodding in agreement?
so, to make myself feel better and take the pressure off of myself, i only create scrapbooks for extra special occasions. i have a scrapbook for each of my pregnancies and a scrapbook for each child’s first year. i have a few other special occasions like our engagement and some wedding things…and i plan to scrapbook some other family traditions we do and will share those in here down the road….read = when i have the time to get to them.
just to share and for some fun eye candy in here, this is the book i created for my pregnancy with our daughter….

what i do is collect all of the momentos and photos from my pregnancy in a pretty box like this one…i call this box a “collection” because it’s a place to collect all of those momentos and photos…

then once i had her, and found the time, i put together a scrapbook. i included items like ultrasound photos, notes from our doctor visits…

photos of my growing belly…

photos from the ultrasound when we found out she was a girl….i was certain i was having a boy!!!…

the other pages include the big brother class my boys took part in at the hospital, baby shower photos and the invites, names we had on our list, photos of her nursery in progress and completed, letters the boys wrote to her, photos of the boys hugging my big belly, photos during labor and after she was born, and more…

…here are her brand new baby footprints….*sigh*….

[i love my sister so much…she took many of these photos like the footprints above!]


i even added some of the special cards received by family and friends…

and a many, many photos of that absolutely precious newborn baby face…

special occasions like this mean everything to me…and think they deserve a special scrapbook.

i hope you have enjoyed this photo organization post! please share your process in here…i’d love to hear!


{i’ve linked this project withย org junkieย and clean & scentsible}

comments +

  1. Jenn Lifford says:

    Great ideas! I still love printing out my photos rather than just having them stored on the computer. Thanks so much for linking up to The Creative Spark. I hope to see you again!
    Jenn ๐Ÿ™‚

    • jenn, thank you so much for stopping by! and thank you for hosting the link up week after week! i love all of your crafty posts. i wish i had an ounce of talent to create those kinds of things. ๐Ÿ˜‰ yes, i love printing photos too. it's great having them safe on the computer, but i love to sit with my kids and extended family to look through beautiful books with journal entries attached. it means so much to me! thanks again for stopping by!

  2. carrie r says:

    Beautiful post. I aspire to follow in your footprints. Two kids and a full time job doesn't leave much time for this kind of stuff, but I will start the collections, and get there eventually. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and processes! I love how you chose plain photo boxes in neutral color. Keeps them minimalist and makes the project seem calm! I love patterns and design, but think I'll grab up some boxes similar to yours next time I head past Michael's with my coupons!

    • oh yes! i hear you!!! i rarely have the time to do anything with my photos, but in the meantime i like to try to keep them organized. that way when it IS time to get something done, at least i don't have to battle with the starting point = getting everything together.

      yes, i love to keep it simple and neutral. that way i can use our items for lots of different seasons. ๐Ÿ™‚

      all the best to you!!
      sam ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Oh my gosh I love this idea, I definitely need to do this, I would love to go and get all of my pictures printed and organize them but I take so many pictures it would cost a fortune…maybe someday I might get around to doing some sort of organization like this with my pictures.

    • Hi ashley,

      Am so glad this idea will be helpful to you! Love hearing that!!

      Don't worry about printing everything in one fell swoop. Take your time! And I am always posting FREE photo printing coupon codes and you wouldn't want to miss out on that, would you??? ๐Ÿ™‚

      All the best,

  4. […] written a lot in here about photo organization, scrapbook organization and photo books. i’ve also shared our school memory binders. maybe […]

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