Friday, March 4, 2011

Organizing Photos

Because you asked Betty S and Rhonda C...

I was having a conversation with these wonderful ladies about vacations and the photos we take and they asked me how I organize my photos? 

In this age of digital it seems that everyone takes many more photos than in the past using film. Rhonda C had over a thousand  photos after her Hawaiian vacation. My son and DH take annual hiking trips with their scout troop and come home with an average of 400 photos of the kids, the mountain trails and peaks. My Mount Rushmore trip last Sept. we came home with over 200 photos.  I can remember whole summer vacations and I've never had that many photos.

This comes from the fact that the SD cards can hold so many shots that we are just snapping away and seeing what we have later.  With film we would scout out our spot for a photo and hope it comes out. There was no editing or cropping until after it was developed. And that was limited to a Red Eye pen and a paper trimmer.

With digital photography there is more of a time commitment to making sure we have a good picture to put into our albums.  It's a good idea to do this soon after your return home from your trip while the information is fresh in your memory.

Here are a few things I do for organizing my Photos before and after they are printed.

On my last trip I had the luxury of bringing  my laptop.  Each night I loaded the photos into a file and labeled it. (SD Day1 was for South Dakota trip Day 1) The date automatically attaches to the file so I knew when the pictures were taken.  Even if you have to wait until you get home to upload photos these steps should help in getting them to a manageable number. Don't delete from the cards though, we will do that at the end of our process.

Getting your photos organized before printing.

1.Once loaded onto the computer I was able to look at the picture in a larger view.  I then deleted anything that was out of focus. This round goes fast.

2. Then I look at the pictures that were taken in poor lighting.  I see if I can adjust any colors to improve the quality of the picture.  If so I will save the picture and if not I will delete it.  There are some instances where adjusting the colors means changing the photo to black&white to save it.

3.Next I look at multiple shots.  For whatever reason I had taken 3 or 4 shots of the same subject.  I looked at which shot I liked the best and deleted the rest. At this point I start to label the pictures that I am keeping.

4. Now I take a break.  This way I can come back later and look at the pictures with a fresh eye.

5. When the break is done, it's time to make some decisions.  This round we will ask ourselves why did I take this shot?  If I can't remember where or why I took the shot then I delete. Unless it is just a fabulous picture, I don't want to keep it.  I do want to be able to have more then the picture, I like to have a little bit of a story to my trip.  NOT that I will journal it all, but I feel the picture should have some importance to me. Some pictures will speak to me.  The memory may be in how I felt when I was taking the shot.  If you don't get any of that from your pictures then its OK to delete. 

6. Get your photos printed. Don't let them sit in your camera or on the computer any longer then needed.  Get them in hand or on a disk. And once you have them you can delete them off the camera.

Organizing after your photos are printed.

A dear friend of mine takes manila envelopes on her trips.  She will label and take notes of that days activities and slip any memorabilia for the day into the labeled envelope.  Then when she gets her photos back she can see which ones go to which day. It makes it easy to see the what, why, when, who or where of the trip. This also helps when her favorite scrapper(yours truly) gets all of her vacation pictures to place into a book for her. 

One way I keep on top of the large amounts of photos for a particular trip is to count the total pictures and then purchase an album that will hold that number of 4x6's. I do this for the hike trips that my family so loves to take.  It is fast and can be viewed immediately, plus the albums usually have a small journal area in the margins.  They may not want to write anything themselves but they will have a story about each photograph and you have an area to write it in. Again, do this soon after returning home because that's when they are willing to tell you all the things they did on their trip.

If the pictures collect faster then they are scrapped then a good way to store them is in Photo Boxes. These can be purchased at any local craft store.   The boxes usually come with file cards to label in what ever manner helps you keep things in order.  It can be by specific date, month, year or event. When you get your pictures home sort and label the events using envelopes or post-it notes and then immediately file them in the Photo Box.

Another way to store your photos is to place them in large zip top bags along with the papers, embellishments and memorabilia you want to use for that LO.  Because the bags are clear you can easily see what accompaning L&P's you may want to use. By keeping the items all together it allows you to be ready when that rare opportunity to get a little crafty comes along. (I make the time to work on my albums, it is something I enjoy so having the regularly scheduled "me" time keeps this Mom happy. And it's usually with my girlfriends which is alway a good time too.)

If you are a stickler for the Chronological then make sure your system reflects that.  Keeping your filing system in an order that you can understand will help you to create more and search less.

When the Chronological is not as important, then work on the events that you can manage easily.  It's OK if the vacation pictures sit a little longer in their file so that you can get the recent birthday into your album.  Chances are you will get more accomplished by doing several of the events that had fewer pictures then  stressing over the family vacation that had hundreds of photos. (We don't want stress, right?)
Plus, saving the larger project may be good reason to go on that Scrapper's Retreat you have been wanting to do....right again?

I have said enough for now.  Tell me what your current system is and how it works for you.  Or leave me a suggestion.  I am always trying to improve my methods too.

Merry Organizing Everyone!



  1. Thanks Rhonda, we are heading to Costa Rica over spring break with two other families and I get their pics also after each day and upload them all to my computer and then when I bring them all home I am going to follow your suggestion of weeding them out. Thanks a million

  2. Lots of great information here Rhonda!

  3. Yes, you are right. This is the best way, It works for me. In fact. I made a vanilla evenlope
    Bind it all book. for my trips.Itake with me on my trips. than when I go crop all my information about the trip is there.
    Than I put the pictures, paper, enblishment in a clear crop container, Off to the little blue house I go. Betty

  4. Great post..thanks for sharing your ideas as always!!