Organizing photos are like organizing the garage, it’s a daunting task if you haven’t kept up with it because there’s so much to sort through it. We want our photos organized like the garage but don’t want to take the work to do it because it feels like it will take forever.
I will admit as much as I love organizing, sorting through photos is one of my least favorite things to do. I get distracted so easily because I come across a memory and start reminiscing. Even if someone is helping me, it’s still hard because usually the person helping me is in the pictures somewhere.
Have you ever hit a breaking point with something? That’s what happened to me not long ago with photos. We had a decent system set-up through icloud, nothing to brag about but it worked. Then I started receiving the dreaded message “you have reached the maximum storage on your device.”
I’m not sure about you but that is one of the most frustrating messages. I’m one of those people that just want things to work seamlessly and had thought we had a good set-up with icloud. We pay for 200GB of icloud storage and I have a 32GB phone. I refused to buy a new phone to get storage because the one I have is in perfectly good condition.
The timing of all of this happening was ironic because the Photo category was coming up in the challenge, which I already had an idea of how to write out the post.
With the challenge I was running into on my personal phone, it forced me to research some other options which I will discuss.
There are two ways to organize photos, digitally and physically.
Chances are you have a mix of both, digital is the wave of the future which we’ll discuss in a minute.
Here’s how you can organize your physical photos:
Gather all of your physical photos. Find a space where you have room to lay them all out without them getting ruined. A kitchen table works well or if you have a spare table that doesn’t get used much or is in the garage that would be best. Going through your photos is a large project to tackle and likely won’t get done in just one sitting. You’ll need to have the photos laid out somewhere safe where no one can mess up the progress you’re making.
Grab some post-it notes. This is going to be your labeling technique until they are going to be stored away. Write out the year on each post-it note (2018, 2017, 2016, etc) and lay them out in chronological order on the table.
Start sorting photos by year. Now that your system has been established, start going through your photos by year. Don’t worry about the events yet, all you are doing is getting them into the correct yearly pile. Once you have them sorted by year, then you can start going through each year and sort them into events (birthdays, vacations, etc.).
Get photo boxes or photo albums. Decide which way you want your photos stored. The number of albums or photo boxes you will need will depend on the number of photos you have. The photo boxes that I recommend hold up to 1,100 photos which are a lot. If possible, store the photos one year per album or box. If there is a lot of empty space then combine years. Label the year on the front of the box or album accordingly.
- Tip: When purchasing albums or boxes, be sure to purchase the same size. You can order different colors but having the same size will make it easier for storage purposes.
To give you a rough idea of time, plan for about an hour for each year. Again, it could be longer or shorter all depending on the number of photos you have.
Now onto the digital space. Having cameras on our phones is amazing, we don’t have to carry around a camera anymore. The downside is that it’s so much easier to take a picture now that we end up with thousands of pictures quickly. Some that are just nonsense. If you have a child and they get a hold of your phone, the pictures they can end up taking can be completely useless and you’re left deleting a bunch of pictures.
Here’s how to digitally organize your photos:
Chose a photosystem. You can choose more than one here if you’d like. Here are a few recommendations, depending on the service you might have to pay a monthly fee:
- Photos (Apple, iOS): If you have an iphone, this is going to be the natural default.
- Google Photos: If you have an android, this will be the natural default.
Create folders or albums for each year. The beauty of digital photos is the date is assigned to them so this makes it much easier to sort through. If you have events that you want in folders for quick and easy reference, for example, a birthday or wedding, label it by the year first and then add the caption. So this is how it would look:
- 2018: Wedding
- 2017: Evan’s 1st Birthday
- 2016: Family Vacation
Setup automatic sync. Most of these systems allow you to have your photos automatically sync when you open up the app. Having this set-up is one less thing for you to do.
Schedule time each week to go through your camera roll. Make it a habit to go through your camera roll every week and delete duplicate or unnecessary photos (blurry, photo burst, etc.) If you take a lot of pictures, doing this daily might be ideal.
Having a digital photosystem in place will save you time, be sure to also have a back-up on an external hard drive. Sometimes you never know what can happen in our digital world and personal pictures are so precious.
If you’d like to keep reading, here’s been my experience with a few of the systems.
Photos (iOS): We’ve been using Apple products from day one, we drink the kool-aid. We have a Macbook and iPhones, so using photos was the most logical thing to do. We started running into storage issues on our Macbook a few years ago and had to move the photo library off of the computer, which was recommended by Apple or get a new computer with a larger hard drive. We choose to save some money and move the hard drive.
I wasn’t too happy about it at first because it seemed super inconvenient having to plug in an external hard drive everytime we needed to access the photos on the Macbook. However, we rarely used it and used our phones quite a bit and the iCloud. We ended up purchasing the storage space of 200GB for our phones and for the most part, has worked out well.
It wasn’t until the storage message on my phone came up when I started realizing something had to change. We were paying for the icloud every month but if I deleted a picture from my phone it would delete it in the cloud too. I would need to connect my phone to the computer to move them, which felt inconvenient considering we were paying for it.
That’s when I decided to explore other options.
Google Photos: Google photos received high remarks from others so I decided to check it out. This system is forever free, however, they do compress the photos to 16 megapixels and 1080p for videos. If you want your photos or videos untouched, you have up to 15GB free and then you have to pay $1.99 a month for 100GB. For someone like me, this really didn’t matter.
I uploaded all of our photos here, which took a few days. We have over 4,000 which isn’t much compared to some people. Once they were uploaded, I was completely amazed at how ‘smart’ this system really was.
It put together collages that made total sense. It put together a slideshow of our daughter from how much she’s grown. This I loved because I didn’t have to do it. Plus if I wanted too, I could change out some pictures if I wanted too. Oh, and it added music too!
The other thing that has been nice about google photos is that it will delete the original off your camera roll which frees up more space on your phone. The only downside to this is if you want to share a photo say to Facebook, you’ll have to download it and save the image to your phone.
Shutterfly: While exploring Google Photos, I explored Shutterfly at the same time because they have free unlimited storage as well. Plus, any Christmas cards or memorabilia we order is done through Shutterfly so it made the most sense to explore this option as well.
The app has an option to have your phone automatically sync which is a nice feature. I was hesitant to do this because all of our photos were being stored in Google Photos. However, I like the picture books Shutterfly has (Googles are very basic) and have a goal to do these more frequently so having all the photos loaded here too made the most sense.
I prefer the file system in Shutterfly over Google because it’s a bit easier to navigate. Shutterfly doesn’t upload videos for free, you have to pay for that service.
With everything now on Google photos, we don’t have to pay for a system.
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