In the age of smart phones and digital photography, it can be easy to accumulate tons of photos in a short period of time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your photos, I’m going to help you find a step by step plan to get them under control.

DSLR camera

I felt like a bit of a hypocrite because I share so many organizing tips on this blog. But while I am organized in many aspects of my life, when it came to my photos, I was a HOT MESS.

The last time I ordered a printed photo book was somewhere around 2011, and I had thousands of photos on my computer, phone, random devices, and in boxes and bins throughout the house.

Since most of my photos were digital, I was able to shove my photo mess under the proverbial rug (my hard drive) for years. But I want to be able to easily access my photos, know that they are backed up safely, and display my favorites.

Thus, the PHOTO ORGANIZATION CHALLENGE. I was ready to get things under control, and I thought it would be encouraging (and helpful) to put my methods and process on the blog.

I’ll be breaking this photo organization project up into several posts because it’s too much to tackle in one sitting. Plus, I’m going to need time to work through each step between posts.

Photo Organization Challenge:

These are the topics and step-by-step projects I will cover.

  1. Consolidating / Categorizing Digital Photos (this post)
  2. Deleting / Editing Digital Photos
  3. Organizing Printed Photos
  4. Printing & Display Options for Digital Photos (coming soon)
  5. Preventing the Backlog from Happening Again! (coming soon)

The first bullet is what I’m writing about today.

1) Get All of Your Photos in One Place

If you’re like me, you have photos on your phone, photos on your spouse’s and kids’ phones, photos emailed/texted to you from friends and family, photos on ipads/tablets, and photos on your camera, just for starters.

The first thing to do is to get everything in one place. Designate one computer for storing hard copies of your photos, and spend time downloading all of your photos to that computer. Or, you can use a program like iCloud to sync your photos from various devices under one main account.

If you’re not an Apple user, Google Photos is a good option for photo storage.

I do use a Mac, but for now I’m opting to manually download all of the photos onto my desktop computer, and then sorting them in the “Photos” app.


2) Back Up Your Photos

I use an iCloud storage plan to back up my family’s photos, as well as an external hard drive. I have one computer that contains the original, full size photos, and the external hard drive backs up that computer.

3) Organize and Categorize Your Photos

After all of your digital photos are together in one place, it’s time to get organized. When I first started organizing my photos, I was creating categories for specific events, like “School Play” or “Beach Trip 2014.” But I found that there were WAY too many categories, and no logical way to categorize the day-to-day photos that weren’t tied to a specific event.

So I ditched that plan and instead decided to categorize by SEASON and YEAR. For example: Fall 2010, Winter 2010, Spring, 2010, Summer 2010, etc.

Each type of photo organizing software will be slightly different, but the key is to split the photos up into manageable groups or albums for each season, which will make the archiving and printing process a lot easier down the road.

iphoto categories

I do have a few stray categories for special occasions, but for the most part, I’m putting all of my digital photos into this seasonal format.

OK, that’s it for the first part of the challenge!

The next step is all about deleting / editing your digital photos.

Is anyone else on board? I’d love to have you join me…this might not be the most fun process in the world, but we’ll be SO happy and proud of ourselves when it’s done!

If you’re in for the challenge, or you have any photo organizing tips to share, please comment below!

If you're overwhelmed by your digital or printed photos, and you don't know where to begin, this challenge is for you. I'm breaking things down step by step and working my way toward having years' worth of photos neatly organized and ready to display or print into books.


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