5 Simple Ways to Get Your Photos Organized for Fall

Be ready for back to school and the fall
Be ready for back to school and the fall

It’s the first day of school, you have three kids lined up in a row and standing (relatively) still and you’re about to take a picture but SORRY - “Storage almost full. You can manage your storage in settings.”

The Earth pivots, you try to go to “Settings” but decide it’s probably easier to delete some old apps. That doesn’t work, you consider what apps you don’t NEED and it still doesn’t work and then AHA, now you can take a photo! But now the bus is coming, you’ve lost a second kid and you decide it’s not worth the effort so you send them to their first day of school without a photo and you toss your Pinterest printable in the trash.

Sound familiar?

In EverPresent's independently conducted Digital Organizing survey we discovered that the average parent adds more than 3,000 photos a year to an already massive and disorganized digital photo collection and that over half of parents have tried and failed to organize their digital photos. Busy parents often don’t have the time or tech know-how to easily take on the project themselves but for those up to the challenge. Our team of professional photo organizers has 5 tips to get you organized for new pictures because Fall is here and that means the Holidays (aka photo-palooza) are coming.

1. Start With A Goal In Mind

We all take a lot of photos and organizing them is going to get overwhelming fast if you don’t have an end goal. Deciding up front what story you want to tell for your family will help you with your organizational system.

A spread from a yearly photo book , including artwork
A spread from a yearly photo book , including artwork

  • Year-in-Review Photo Books. These projects get abandoned fast when people can’t find the photos they want easily. Keep a project like this in mind as you decide whether you want to separate by season, vacations, or have detailed chronology.
  • Holiday Cards and Framed Prints. Prints are still incredibly popular, and with the gorgeous options available on sites like Minted for cards and Framebridge for framed prints - you’ll want to utilize your best photos. As you’re following our sorting tips below, be sure to flag your faves.

2. Compile Your Photos Into ONE Place on Your Computer for Easy Organizing

Have a snack, do some organizing.
Have a snack, do some organizing.

Saveyourphotos.org and Sylvia Cuillo of PhotosOrganized agree that you need to create a central repository for your digital photos, or a “Hub”. Whether you spend the time to sub-folder and label them right away is up to you (we’ll get to that), but as you move into the Fall and Holiday season having everything in one place is only going to benefit you.

A few things to consider for your “hub”:

  • Name it something obvious. If you want your husband or your older children to download their photos into it, make sure it’s easy to find and ideally right on your desktop.
  • Mark your calendars. A “hub” isn’t useful to you if you don’t use it. Keep an alert on your Google calendar or family apps so once a month everyone downloads their photos.

Is the cloud right for you?

Google Photos and Shutterfly are popular options for this. Before you start uploading, ask yourself what you really want your cloud provider to do for you:

  • Can you download groups of photos all at once if you ever want to switch services or share a group of photos with family?
  • Are you ok with your privacy settings? If providing access to multiple family members, or restricting access as needed, do they allow for that.
  • Can you share individual photos, or do you have to share whole groups of photos? Can you share the popular movie and online album features with family or do you have to purchase them?
  • Do you like the way everything is organized? Does it maintain the date pictures were taken and organize chronologically? Does it organize by albums and uploads for projects? Make sure their organization works for your family.

3. BACKUP EVERYTHING!

Losing all your photos and videos is absolutely devastating and you won’t realize just how painful it is until it happens to you.

  • If your hub lives on your desktop, make sure you regularly backup that folder to your external hard drive. If you subfolder your downloads as you go, it will make it even easier to add new photos to your hub and your external hard drive without creating duplicates.
  • If your hub is in the cloud, you should also regularly download your photos to your desktop as well. Cloud companies can go out of business, or crash - you never know.

It’s always best to have a copy of your “hub” in two places. Decide what system works best for you and your family and be consistent.

4. Delete Photos As You Take Them And As You Consolidate Them

Deleting bad photos when you take them will ultimately save you time in the long run, but it’s not always a priority in the moment. Once you have everything in one place and you’re sitting at your computer feeling overwhelmed at the sheer number of images to sort through, don’t worry, we guarantee you that there are TONS of photos in there that you just don’t need.

Go through each batch of photos that you upload from your phone and get rid of anything on this list:

  • Blurry photos that are unrecognizable
  • Photos so under or overexposed they’re totally white, or black.
  • Pocket photos; accidental shots from your toddler; photos with fingers and thumbs covering the lens
  • Screenshots and memes and downloads
  • Landscape photos you don’t plan to do anything with

The hardest part is weeding out photos that aren’t the best, but also aren’t terrible. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re reviewing your photos:

  • Is everyone looking at the camera?
  • Are they having a good time? Is anybody making a bad face?
  • Does the photo make you pause, or trigger an emotional response? (Hint: these are the best)
  • Do you keep coming back to the same photo that isn’t that great, but you really like it ? Just keep it!
  • Are you highlighting a moment? Sometimes it’s the unconventionally good photos that end up meaning the most, don’t dismiss them too quickly even if it’s a bit blurry or dark (there are editing apps for that.)

5. Sub-folders And Labels Are Your Friends, Use Them.

You’ve consolidated all your photos into your “hub”, you’ve done a first pass and deleted all the junk and now it’s time to sort. There are a couple of ways you can do that:

Sample archive sorted by season and event
Sample archive sorted by season and event

  • Separate by month. Create a folder in your “hub” and label it with the month and year. In a program like Apple Photos, you can open your folder and easily see the date taken for all of your photos. You can even highlight groups of photos to see a date range.
  • Create folders for events or topics. If specific and exact chronologically organized photos isn’t that important to you, consider an easier system to implement. You can organize by seasons and create sub-folders for events, like birthdays and holidays.
  • Create folders for projects. As you’re sorting photos you can create folders for each project like “Photobook”. When it’s time to work on those you’ll be picking your BEST from an already consolidated collection of top choices.
  • Name your photos. Deciding on a system for naming your files will ensure that you’re always organized and accurate, but it can feel like a lot. Rachel LaCour Niesen of SaveFamilyPhotos.com has written an excellent overview of the importance of a digital photo file naming system.

Digital photo clutter is a real issue plaguing most adults, particularly parents. Not surprisingly 2 in 3 parents don’t enjoy managing them at all! If you want an organized digital photo library, but don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself consider hiring someone. Our professional photo organizers save busy parents, enthusiastic picture-takers and even professional bloggers and photographers the time and hassle of creating an organized, easy-to-use digital library with our Fresh Start.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS