How I Organized Years of Digital Photos in 1 Month {and You Can Too}

tumblr_n5nea67Bqf1qdr9ppo1_1280 (1)I’ve been on summer break from nursing school for a month now, and within that time I’ve managed to reorganize my entire room {I’m all about feng shui}, purge tons of clothes, bags & shoes, get this blog back up-n-running {hi there} and I’ve managed to digitally and physically organize every.single.picture. I have taken in the past 5 years….yes….THE PAST FIVE YEARS. It’s clearly obvious that I haven’t been very good at keeping up with scrapbooking, putting pictures in albums, frames, or even printing them in general. I guess it was just a combination of being a new mom, going back to school, starting multiple businesses and all of my freelance writing jobs at the same time. Now that I’m older and wiser {jk I’ve always been wise}, I’m definitely more interested in sticking to a game plan from here on out; to read about my current method for keeping up to date on photos and projects check out this blog post.

How To Organize Your Digital Photos

Before we get started on how I even accomplished this daunting task, let me just start out by saying OMG I have a lot of pictures! I mean, literally pictures of everything from screenshots of funny texts to blurry first moments of my son as a baby. Regardless of the catastrophe ahead, I knew I had some real  gems in there that deserved to be printed and kept forever for me to share with my loved ones. So heres how I did it.

STEP ONE: Collect all your photos and put them in one place.
The best advice I can give you for completing this task is to set aside a day or two {an entire week in my case} and go through each and every digital file in which you may have pictures, this includes: iPhoto on all devices, Facebook, Instagram, or any other photo sharing websites you may have stored pictures over the years. I was able to gather several photos at one and put them into a file on my desktop. This part is optional depending on how many pictures you actually have to deal with {I had over 3,000!}, but to reduce all the clutter in one folder, separate as many photos as possible into other folders according to year and then move to step two.

STEP TWO: Find a hosting website for your photos.
Back when I had my online shops from 2010-2013, I was taking tons and tons of product pictures each week, all of which had edited versions and originals and needed a place to store not only the photos but the product descriptions and so on. For this purpose I used Dropbox because I could integrate photos + files; but the problem with Dropbox is it only allows you so much free uploading space and I had none left, so I decided to try Shutterfly instead. It was easier for me to use Shutterfly because they give you all the creating options you need, as well as free unlimited upload space. They also has a few free apps worth trying out, which makes it a lot easier to store your photos and delete them from iCloud once they’re uploaded to free up space and prevent any lost photos.

STEP THREE: Organize your photos according to year.
This part of the gig is the absolute most trivial of all – sorting and sifting through every single photo and placing each one into its rightful home. If you’re anything like me, I live by the phrase “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Of course, I know not everyone is probably as anal as I am about organizing, but still, this structure may help. Look through each of your photos by year {the way they were organized on your desktop folder from step one} and create a new folder for each season of that year, i.e. “Spring ’13, Winter ’13, Summer ’13, Fall ’13.”

Organize Photos According to Year

Try your hardest to do so accordingly, most of the time your digital photos will have dates tagged onto them, which makes it a lot easier if you can’t easily remember which year your son was a scarecrow for Halloween. This also helps you to view your pictures in a more broken down layout, where you can decide which of the “almost the exact same pictures” is the best one.

STEP FOUR: Rummage through the memories.
Although sorting photos is the most tedious of all, deleting them is the hardest. I know…the thought of deleting any picture worth taking makes me cringe, but honestly, it’s quality over quantity, at least that’s what I told myself before diving into the pool of my soon to be tears. Now don’t go trigger happy and hunt down every picture that doesn’t strike you as important, but rather ask yourself the following questions: “is this the best quality picture from that event/moment?,” “are there nearly doubles and if so, which one {or two, three} is best?,” “does this picture evoke an emotion?” and lastly “do I have several others just like this, but on different occasions, and can I bear to delete this one?” The latter refers to those precious sleeping child pictures we all have, you know, the ones where the lighting is way too dark but you can’t stand to delete it because those cheeks are just way too cute. I’m here to tell you something….. it’s okay! It.is.okay to delete some of those photos, especially if you have many, many ones just like it. I for one went through each of them, picked my favorites and left the rest in my mind’s memory. It’s hard for us to do such a thing with today’s technology, we snap pictures of each and every moment of our children’s lives and tend to forget that the best lens is the ones right in our eyeballs {I like anatomy}. So last but not least, is step five.

STEP FIVE: Printing your pictures.
You can choose to do this a number of different ways, and there are so many different websites that allow you to create a multitude of personal projects with your photos, from coffee mugs to blankets and more. But since I was backtracking literally years of pictures, I decided to save myself the anxiety of creating multiple scrapbooks, and just went for the old 4×6 prints right from Shutterfly. After I printed my pictures and received that orange box in the mail I felt so accomplished and relieved! Here they were, my favorite moments in my hands, just like way back when in 2004 {I went there}. All I had left to do was put them into albums, and since they were already sorted by years/seasons, I simply slid them into their spots and hooked them into a binder.

The final product might not be the cutest craft I’ve ever done, actually, it’s hardly the cutest, but hey, it’s what’s inside that counts {yep, went there again}, and inside is years worth of happiness and adventures that I will always have to look back on and smile! I hope this helps you too and I’d be glad to answer any questions about this process. So tell me, are you working on any major photo projects? How are you going about it all?

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