list of steps to successful photo organization

Organizing photos is similar to many other types of organizing you would do around your home. Here are some quick steps to begin organizing your memories!

list of steps to successful photo organization |

 1. Think about why you want to organize your photos?

  • To preserve precious memories. Photos should never be stored in a basement or attic due to moisture and temperature fluctuation.
  • To share the photos with others. What is the point of taking all the photos of your kids, or your vacation, if they never even leave the memory card from your digital camera?
  • Free up the space where the photos are currently being stored. Just like any clutter in your home such as paper, mail, clothing, or toys – printed photos can take up valuable space.

2. Get started! Gather and sort!

Collect photos from every place they are stored and get them into one spot. A good area to work should have a large flat surface such as a dining room table or a bed in a guest room.

Sorting can be done in different ways:

  • Chronological. Sort by year or month. Start with the most recent photos and work backward.
  • Theme. Group like items together and toss the duplicates. Sort into categories such as vacations, life cycle events, or by a family member.

3. Evaluate old/damaged photos or slides.

Photo restoration and scanning services can scan in your photos and fix tears, perform color correction, even remove items or change a backdrop.

4. Tackle your digital images.

Take the time to set up file folders on the computer and be sure to have a double back-up system in place. File folders should begin with the year, then break down into months (use numbers 01-12, not the names of months so that the computer will keep them in order), then within each month you can separate into themes or events.

If you have digital photos, but still want prints or albums, there are many online photo sites that are easy to use. You can upload your pictures with a few clicks and even make beautiful printed books or other gifts like mugs and tote bags.

5. Sort and store the memorabilia.

Sometimes the collection of memories includes more than just photos. Ticket stubs, artwork, sports medals – these items also need to be displayed or stored. Sometimes these items can be displayed easily alongside a photo in a book or shadow box display. But if the item is large, 3-dimensional, or bulky, consider taking a photo of the item and discarding the actual piece.

6. Arrange and display!

If you do choose albums, always be sure to choose products that are archival and acid-free. Archival albums, photo-safe marking pens and adhesives can be found at online scrapbooking sites or craft stores. Even some big-box retailers have started to carry scrapbooking products.

If you choose to store your photos in boxes, those same vendors also have plenty of decorative or functional boxes for photos. Look for a box that has dividers or envelopes (again acid-free!) to help you sort your photos and label them into whatever categories you choose.

7. Keep it up! Maintenance is key!

Just like other organizing, keeping up with your photos is an ongoing task. Try to go through photos on a monthly basis. This includes downloading whatever is on your camera or sorting through prints when you get them developed. Labeling as you go will keep you from a lot of guesswork down the road. Have empty boxes or albums on-hand to continuously work on maintaining your precious memories.

Jody Al-Saigh has a background in photography and design and earned a B.S. in Photojournalism photography from Syracuse University.  She worked for 10 years in print production and graphic design.  After having kids, Jody decided to start her own business, Picture Perfect Organizing (  Her background in photography and design led to her specialization in photo and collection organizing. You can visit her Facebook Fan Site at or follow on Twitter at

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