Please help me get my photos uncluttered and organized...

auntlavenderJuly 25, 2007

Hi All!

I'm new to this forum and have enjoyed reading all about your decluttering habits. I've been on and off the flylady program for years. Right now I'm slowly getting back on.

I have two chldren 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and I don't have completed photo albums for them. I have literally thousands of digital photos and I can pare them down, but I'd love to hear from someone who has mastereed this task. Since I've procrastinated this task it's hard to think clearly about it.

Also, a word of warning, we lost almost a years worth of photos when our computer was damaged because we hadn't backed them up or took time to print them and put them in albums. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Oh, the dreaded digital photo issues. I don't have much advice for you about this, but I'm looking forward to hearing what others have to offer since I have recently purchased a digital camera and already have many photos on my computer that haven't been printed or backed up.

I think regardless of whether you are dealing with digital or 35mm film photos, you need to decide how you want to organize your photo albums. Perhaps having digital pictures reduces the number of photos you print and put in albums, but there still has to be some plan, even if you decide on a more random method.

When I organized a ton of old family pictures, I ended up with five very large photo albums. They were organized like this: 1) Mom's family photos; 2) Mom's extended family photos (deceased cousin's pics that included my mom and her siblings); 3) Dad's family photos; 4) Mom and Dad's early years together; 5) Mom, Dad, and me (my childhood and our family pics). I tried to organize the photos in these albums in chronological order to the best of my ability.

I also created an album for newspaper articles since my parents were active golfers and participated in local tournaments. This album also included weddings and obituaries, which was useful for documenting the history of Mom's family.

Since photos can be easily scanned, I discarded almost all of my own Brownie, Kodak Instamatic, and 35mm negatives. I did save negatives (not sure type of camera) for some of the older pictures of my parents when they were first together because they are amazing black and white shots.

For digital pics, I weed out poor photos before transferring from camera to computer, and again on first review in full size. Similar or duplicates are nixed, keeping only the best so over time I don't have to look through many pics to find important ones.

However, some of the best old pictures are badly composed shots of people that happen to have important details in the background, such as grandma's old Ford or the family heirloom that broke and was discarded years ago. So, I hesitate to urge you to be ruthless with your photo weeding because I've experienced many happy moments upon discovering an old photo that captured something special unintentially. It's hard to know in the present what other people will find important later.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 1:31PM
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If you only do one thing right now, I suggest this:

Make an envelope for each kid, and start putting pictures in there now and then.

Every school picture--even of each other!

A picture now and then w/ dad, w/ mom, etc.

Always print out 4 pics from every birthday party, and put them in there. 4 or 5 pics from every vacation, etc.

I've decided that this is how I want to divide them. The ones for me, by years and the ones for each of them. Beyond that, i'm not that worried. When I eventually tackle this, what I'd like to do is simply put them in an album the moment I get them. And not worry about grouping vacations, etc.

Just get them into a book so it's easy to leaf through and LOOK at them!! Pictures are worthless if nobody ever looks at them. And I don't mean when you just get them back from the processor, or dump the memory card onto the hard drive.

Also, at the very least, "do no harm" moving forward. Even if you don't get to the backlog, try to establish some good habits going forward.

Every time you dump your camera's memory card into the computer (to make room for new pics), PRINT SOME. Not all, but a few. The ones that are of the event that was fun. The one you think you'd like to look at 19 years from now when your babies are getting married. The ones that show your children with other people (for them to have in their folders)

You could also, in tackling the bigger project, flip through with a quick eye to what you KNOW you can comfortably toss. Then when you do start sorting,

I've found I can declutter almost all of the pictures of animals at the zoo (I don't take them anymore). Duplicates can be easy; bad exposures can be easy.

I see Tina's point about not being able to tell, now, what might be important to somene else later. But I vote for not WORRYING about it. You are the one dealing w/ these NOW.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:22PM
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I've been wondering too if everyone prints most of their digital photos for an album or if they put them on a disk.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:46AM
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I read something by a child psychologist who said that the power of pictures to create memories is being abandoned w/ the digital-camera age, bcs so few people print them out. Which means they show them to fewer people, they look at them in albums less, etc.

Of course, he was saying this on a press release for an online photo0printing service. but I do think he has a point.

And of couse, those of us to get them, flip through them, and then just stick them into a bos or on a shelf (people like me, in fact) are also loosing out on that benefit of pictures.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:53AM
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I take some 500-1000 pictures of my twins every month so I can imagine how overhelmed you must be with all the pictures you have.

1. For digital pictures, I have a directory structure as follows: (Directory names are shown in )

--- -- Remaining pictures of this month
-- Good ones for 2007-Jan
-- Remaining pictures of this month
-- Good ones for 2007-Feb

2. Go to directory explorer &
sort the pictures by "Date Picture Taken" &
drop the 2007-Jan pictures in 2007\01Jan folder, 2007-Feb pictures in 1007\02Feb folder & so on.

3. When you get free time go to the 2007\01Jan folder &
move the really good ones to the 2007\01Jan\Good folder.

4. If you want you may create a 2007\01Jan\Bad folder &
put the badly foccused or overexposed or really bad pictures. Then review them another day & delete them.

5. I usually rename the files using a utility "Bulk Rename files"
070120_010.JPG => Picture taken on 2007 Jan 20 & 100th picture of this month.
If this is a good picture then I may rename adding a small descriptor
070120_010 Baby first day at home.JPG

5. Rules I use for printing & Weeding:
a. I don't usually print digital photos. But use a slideshow program & view it on my computer. You can put the photos as a desktop background or screen-saver.

b. I do distribute the GOOD ones to my family & friends on a DVD. I sometimes post it on PICASSA so they can download it to their computers.

c. I usually do not throw away any pictures unless they are really BAD.

a. I retain a backup of all pictures on another hard-drive.
b. Recently I made DVD backups of 5 years of kids pictures(2 DVDs) which I will leave in my lock-box.

Potraits & Film photos:
1. As soon as I get the copies I put the 4x6 in albums
2. I use 12"x12" scrapbook & put the larger prints in them.

I have to confess I still have some copies lying around that I got from other members of my family.

Hope this helps. If you need more help in sorting your digital photos feel free to ask. That task is much easier to sort than the prints.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 2:18PM
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I don't have a digital camera. When my kids were infants, I made a First Year Photo album for each, all their early baby photos with family and sibling pictures included. Then I stopped putting photos in books. I have probably 100 loose envelopes of photos. One day I'll get them together and put them in albums, in chronological (more or less) order. Sorry I can't offer any other suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 6:30PM
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The beauty of digital photos is that you do NOT have to print anything unless you are using it yourself to frame or make crafty-things with...or giving prints away. If you are printing them and calling the hard copies the "backup", then that pretty much defeats the purpose of money savings time savings, and clutter/storage space that goes along with the digital world.

For digital photos...even if I took a bazillion photos at a small event, I only delete the obvioulsly bad/blurry ones when I dump them off my camera & am viewing them for the first time. If I didn't delete it during the first round, they are good enough to keep. Any more time studying the mediocre photos & deciding to keep or not keep is a waste of time in my opinion.

I do NOT print my digital photos unless I want to frame something that turned out exceptionally good, or I want give some prints away.

About once every 6 months, I dump the photos onto CD's and delete them off my computer so I don't accidentally burn them onto another CD at a later date.

I generally devote 1 CD just to DD's photos...she's still a toddler & I'm still constantly taking pics of her. I label the CD with her name, plus the start and stop dates of the photos on the CD. (Example: Jan 1, 2007-June 30, 2007).

I then devote a separate CD to miscellaneous special events...everything, parties, holidays, etc. Everything goes on the same CD with the start and end dates as described above. I do NOT save or hold X-mas photos for years until I have enough years worth of Xmas to fill up a CD. An example of what's on a Misc CD:
July 1, 2006-December 31, 2006
-4th of July Party
-Las Vegas Trip
-Labor Day Party

Doing it primarily by dates is pretty easy for me. No hard copies unless I need or want them. Storage space is the size of a CD.

Easy to go back and find a pic by date and event when or if I need it because it's all written on the CD. If you know what you're looking for, you will find it without trouble...even if weeding though hundreds of pics. If you are just strolling down memory lane, you'll be glad you didn't weed out the mediocre pics. Those are generally the best ones with the best stories to tell in the long run.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 6:53PM
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Hello Aunt Lavender,

I keep all my photos organized by location. I like to travel, so it's mostly by city. I store them at and There's lots of other websites like photobucket and that are similar. The beauty of that is that the photo aren't on your computer, they're on the internet. I don't actually have a tangible photo album. The thing with facebook is that everyone else can see your photos and comment on them, so I only use it for photos I want to show off to my friends. With snapfish, you can order prints and pick them up at the store. The photos I cherish get printed out and hung up on my wall or my school locker. In fact, the background of my cell phone is a picture of me and my little sister when we were very young.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:42AM
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gayle000--do you ever actually LOOK AT your digital photos, once you've transferred them to the computer?

I think I would not--in fact, I know I would not. But I might get out an album or a box to look through.

And I would never trust to ONLY the Internet to store my photos. Companies go out of business all the time. I might put my photos on snapfish or something, for sharing, but I would NEVER have that be the only place I store them.

I'd be putting them on the hard drive and backing it up, and also transferring them now and then to a CD.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 10:01AM
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OMG! I am so lost!! I know I was born 100 years too late but all the digital stuff totally baffles me!

Being the simpleton that I am -- I take pics-- have them developed -- sort the ones I want -- put them directly into an album or into a plastic box. I buy 1-2 loose leaf archival photo notebooks a year.

I have them sorted by people or events. Ancestors --family --kids --wedding etc. And that's it.

But I might take 20 pics a month ........ so its simple.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 11:08AM
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Cathy, I'm with you. I don't have a digital camerta and I don't really want one. I have hundreds of unorganized photographs. One day I'll put them in albums. I would rather have an envelope of pictures than a full memory card on my computer. I can take 12 shots in a day or one in a month.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 7:11PM
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I sort all my digital pictures by year, then month, the the event. For Example, I would have a folder called 2007, then a subfolder named Jan 2007, then a subfolder called xxxx's birthday, etc. Hope that makes sense. I do this for each month of each year. Then Since I am a paper scrapbooker, I have them all printed when one of the online print companies has a special. Once they are printed, I move them still within that month, and still in their original subfolder into another folder named PRINTED, that way I don't end up with duplicate prints that I don't need. I print the number I will need based on who/what the picture is. I make a scrapbook album for my husband and myself, and then I also make one for each of my 3 kids. If I have a photo of all 3 of my kids, I print a total of 4 prints, one for me and one for each of them, etc.

When I get the actual prints, or the prints from a film camera (I do still use one of these sometimes), I sort them in photo boxes in chronolgical order. I sort them first so I know which box to put them in, mine, kid 1, kid 2, or kid 3. I hope this all makes sense.

When I scrapbook them, I put them in the scrapbook chronilogically. I can scrap whatever order I wish, just make sure they are in the final album in order.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 5:24PM
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If you really want to make progress with this project, you might want to commit to a support group. Seriously! I am in a knitting group that meets every week. We really encourage each other and the weekly accountability keeps everybody moving towards project completion. I have learned so much and improved immensely as a knitter.

Why not join a scrapbooking group? Scrapbooking stores often sponsor scrapbooking nights, and then there are scrapbooking meetups, scrapbook product representatives that sponsor crop nights.... it goes on and on. You will end up buying some supplies if you join a group sponsored by a sales agent, but you'd probably buy photo albums and pens anyway. Scrapbookers are really into photo preservation, so you will get access to good supplies, rather than the crappy stuff that turns photographs yellow.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:44PM
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