Photo Organization Series – Part One

Aug 4

You guys. This is a project that’s been a long loooooong time coming. Can’t believe I’ve officially started it – there’s no turning back. And I can’t wait to bring you along for the ride to photo organization bliss.

We’re talking about ALL of my photos and videos. I mean ALL. This project is a major undertaking – at least I think, but we’ll see. And its one that I have been dying to get a grip on for yearsssss. So I’m finally doing it and will share the entire process in a series here on the blog. I’ve already been sharing a bit over the last year on IG. There’s a highlight reel titled “photo + video” if you want to check out what I previously spoke about. OR you can view my progress to date in the video linked at the end of this post.

However stressed I am in considering how much there will be to do, my fellow professional organizer friend, Adam Pratt, promised me it’s easier than I think.

Adam is the founder of Chaos to Memories, a photo organization business based in Illinois – but he can work with you anywhere, no matter where you live. You can read all about him, his process and more on his website.

If you were here during the lockdown, you may remember when I interviewed him about photo organizing. During the safe-at-home series, I spoke with several experts on topics that are a real pain point. And all of us can relate to the headache of disorganized, scattered photos, videos and memories. I mean, it’s in his business name – CHAOS!!

Photos everywhere AND all the varieties and locations where they exist in our life!

Wouldn’t it be AMAZING to find any photo at any moment? That is the life I’m striving for. And I know I am not alone with this struggle…or the quest to get it all organized.

I see evidence of the “chaos” in every single home we organize. Families have photos they take daily with their phones but we also see the boxes of photo memories from when they were dating / getting married…photos from each of their childhoods and college years…photos of each of their families that are being passed down. The old computers you’re afraid to recycle because you know they contain treasured photos or videos. It’s a lot. It’s a huge deal, to be honest. And my situation is challenging in that I have personal photos mixed in with ALL of our business photos and blog photos.

And videos!

Adam is well aware of the challenge that is my situation and calmed me completely with his solid yet simple game plan.

So I’m going to bring you along throughout my own personal journey. I’ve received his approval in sharing what I am actually paying for this service. I really don’t want money to keep you from getting this accomplished. Especially if you think it’s going to cost you a fortune and that’s the hold up on your end. Let’s break down what we are doing, the costs and where we are in this moment.


First thing I did before contacting Adam was gathering all of the physical photos, slides, reels, etc out of the attic. I did that last September. Here’s a few shots after pulling out all the bins and boxes…

I also had baby clothes, halloween costumes, the kids artwork, large framed photos, etc. So some of that is also included in these images…

What was important to me was gathering all of this and then doing a pass or two through everything. There were a few easy toss items…and the kids helped go through things and really enjoyed it. Which further sparked my interest in this project. They too want to find their childhood photos easily and loved looking back on their drawings and handwriting from over the years. So cute!

Anyway, I made a pass over everything and got it reorganized a bit. Then I contacted Adam. He had a wait list so I jumped on that and when he was ready, just as this last school year was wrapping up, he reached out to schedule a call. We spoke for a bit and then he sent me a proposal. Once I accepted the proposal, we scheduled a one hour Zoom kick-off meeting, which was back on July 26. Want to share specific dates so you have an idea of a timeline.

I want to share the actual proposal with you because he says it better than I do:

Regarding your photo situation, I suggest taking it in phases:

Phase 1: Digital Gathering

Every project starts with gathering, including phones, computers, CDs, hard drives, cloud accounts, etc. We can work with you remotely to gather all your digital files, merge them together on one hard drive, deduplicate them, and sort them chronologically.

We charge a flat rate of $1500 for this service up to 500,000 digital photos and videos.

Phase 2: Digital Organizing

At the end of Phase 1 we’ll know how many unique photos need to be organized. This phase of organization includes curation (deleted duds and near-duplicates), separating work from personal photos, and tagging for search-ability. Search options will be customized for your work and can include details such as client name, city, project type (kitchen, pantry, garage, etc.), products, partners, etc. This work is $150/hr and the scope depends on how many photos you have and how detailed you want to get.

Phase 3: Private Photo Sharing Site

After Phase 2 we suggest creating a private photo sharing site for you and your staff that you can search for social media, press opportunities, project proposals, etc. You’ll be able to search this private archive from any computer, smart phone, or tablet. This service is $500 and includes setup and configuration of the site on SmugMug.

Going forward, we’ll also have to discuss how to keep personal and work photos separate so you can keep your photos private and build up your searchable work archive. There’s no automated solution to this, but we can discuss options to make it as convenient as possible.

He split the $1,500 payment in half – one payment when you start phase one and the other will be made when phase one concludes.

Right now, we are still in phase one, which is why I’m kicking off this series today. And will continue to update in real time.


During our kick-off call, I gave him remote access to my iCloud account. What is currently in Photos is about 36,000 photos and videos. I also have another computer that I have yet to recycle because it has the old iPhoto program and I couldn’t figure out how to get iPhoto to merge into Photos on the new Mac I purchased a couple years ago. Therefore, Adam sent me a hard drive to plug into that computer to load all of the images and return it to him.

He also received logins to my Shutterfly and Snapfish accounts…and we’re deciding if he needs to pull the blog images from WordPress.

As you can imagine, there’s A LOT of digital photos. Will be really interested the see the combined number once we wrap up the deduplicating process.

In the meantime, I’ve spent about 30 – 60 minutes every few nights going through my phone to delete images I know aren’t worth keeping and will need to be deleted anyway. For example, SO MANY screenshots I don’t need to keep or random product photos I snap from a store to send to clients. I’ve already deleted nearly 1,500 of these types of photos.

What I am most excited about is the end result and our ability to easily find our photos and videos. Just last week a potential client reached out asking to see photos of “large closets” we have unpacked, designed or organized. Sure would have been great to say, “Ok! I’ll send them right now!”. But instead I am wracking my brain trying to consider all of the large closets in the portfolio I can pull for her. I’m looking forward to searching by client name or space. He will also have things tagged by location.

And of course excited to find our family photos at a moments notice!


I first pulled down all of those bins and boxes in September 2022. Now in August of 2023, I pulled together all the videos of the content around this topic that have been shared on social. It’s living on the YouTube Channel so if you don’t have Instagram, please take a look at the video here on YT!

Really excited to finally have gotten started and will be back soon with updates!



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