How to Organize Photos

Whether you keep your photos on your phone, computer, or in a scrapbook, you want them kept safe and easily accessible. Learn how to organize photos with these helpful tips and tricks to clean up your camera roll and protect your printed photos.

Woman scrolling through photos on a phone/

In today’s world, with access to technology and the ability to snap a photo literally at our fingertips whenever and wherever we want, there are more photos than ever. Since we always have our smartphones, we can instantly capture and share memories with everyone we love.

This valuable technology has given us freedom, allowing us to preserve more memories than ever before. However, as your camera roll starts to fill up and you run out of storage, the challenge is finding what to do with all your precious memories.

Alternatively, maybe you have bins filled to the top of printed photos sitting in your basement or attic and merely taking up space. You hold these printed memories dear, but they’re simply sitting there unprotected and unused

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Family Photos

Do you have stacks of family photos piling up marking memories and milestones throughout the years? Even when you only take pictures on special occasions and holidays, family photos have a way of accumulating.

Woman sorting through photos.
  1. Gather all your photos and photo albums into one area. You want to ensure that you get all your photos in one location so you can then sort through them easily.
  2. Review them and see what you have; devote all your attention to seeing how far back the photos go and if you have any duplicates
  3. Sort through your photos. Reviewing them will give you an idea of how you want to organize them chronologically, by person, or by event.
  4. Store your photos. How you decide to store them will largely depend on how you decide to sort them. If you’re sorting by event or family member, photo albums may work well, but if you’re sorting chronologically, you may want to use photo storage boxes.
Woman looking through a photo album.

Old Photos 

Photos have a way of being forgotten over the years, and there’s no doubt you have hundreds of photos that have been collecting dust. Organizing these old photos may seem overwhelming, but following a system can make it easy.

Stacks of photos.
  1. Do a thorough purge and ensure that you toss any photos you don’t value. It’s important to remember that you only want to keep the ones that are special to you and toss any that are blurry, duplicates, or poor-quality photos.
  2. Sort your photos, and as with family photos, you can decide on the sorting method you want to use. 
  3. Label your photos. There’s a good chance that most of your photos have no information on them. The frustration with old photos is that it can be difficult to recognize the people in the photos. That’s why you should label your old photos with a #2 pencil and lightly write on the back edge of the photo.
  4. For added security, scan your photos to ensure you have a digital version of your collection. Even if you plan to keep your prints in a safe location, there’s always the risk that they can be lost over time
Photos organized in a photo box.

The Best Solutions to Store Old Photos 

Once you’ve reviewed, sorted, and scanned your photos, it’s time to store them. There will probably be photos you’ve decided to showcase in your home, which can be stored in a photo album where people can easily flip through them.

Three women looking at a photo album.

However, there will also be photos that you aren’t displaying. You shouldn’t simply toss these in a shoebox and stick them in the closet. Old photos need to be stored safely so that they don’t deteriorate.

The best solution for large, old prints is to have them stored flat or upright. These should be stored individually in a polypropylene sleeve and then in an acid-free box.

Consider adding an acid or lignin-free board between each especially fragile photo. Once your photos are packed away, they should be stored in a safe, dry, cool place. An indoor closet is typically the best choice. 

Digital Photos

Storing digital photos is drastically different from storing printed photos. The first step is to ensure all your images are in one location. If they’re not already, centralize all your photos in one location, such as Google Photos or Apple Photos.

Photo app on an iPhone

Using a cloud-based app makes it easier to access your photos whether you’re looking for them from your iPad, tablet, computer, or phone. If it’s more than just your devices that you’re gathering photos from, such as your partners or from a digital camera, then you may upload everything on your computer.

Afterward, you can organize them all within a photo program such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Once you take photos, at the most basic level, they should be organized by year.

This should make your sorting process minimal because they’ll already be sorted chronologically. As you’re organizing, you can delete photos as you go. It may be tempting to keep them all but ask yourself if they’re worth keeping.

Pictures on a computer.

If you have ten selfies in the same location, pick your favorite and delete the rest. Once you’ve organized your photos, ensure that your images are backed up. A cloud-based service usually automatically backs up your phone’s images, but if you want to be extra secure, you can back them up multiple ways.

It would be best if you had them stored not only on the cloud but also on an external hard drive or flash drive. You can always print your favorite photos out or choose to keep them entirely digital. 

Kids Photo Albums 

When you have kids, time can fly, and the urge to save every item, from finger paintings to the thousands of photos taken at every birthday, is strong for parents. However, it’s not practical to keep everything, but a kid’s photo album is an easy solution that you can use to preserve childhood memories.

Woman and child looking at baby photos.
  1. Start by gathering your children’s photos and special memories.
  2. Print the desired digital photos out and put them in an album.
  3. You can organize these chronologically, allowing you to see your child growing up when you flip through the pages. 

Sorting and organizing them can be overwhelming, but with these tips on how to organize photos, you’ll have them organized in no time.

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Anika Gandhi

Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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