Organising Family Photographs- A 'How-To' Guide
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A how to guide for organising your family photographs

Organising Photographs-A ‘How-to’ Guide

Recently, here at Organising Claudia, I have done a lot of work for clients sorting, organising and digitising family photographs and it got me thinking. The fact that this is a task on so many people’s to-do lists clearly highlights that we have all thought of the sheer horror which would come with losing, misplacing or damaging the precious memories held in these photographs.

 If this is a thought that has ever crossed your mind, then this blog is for you. To help abate this terrible fear, I have below created eight steps to help you organise and store your special moments safely and in some form of logical fashion so that you know exactly where they are when you need or want them…very important as you never know when that embarrassing picture of your brother or best friend will come in use!

Read on to get the task well done and have a few belly laughs along the way!


1.Find all of your photographs

Ok, so this first task sounds easy right? Find all of your photographs. They are on your phone. But think again; I am sure you also have photo albums on your shelves, photographs on your laptop, on random USB sticks and memory cards littered about the house…and about 846 other places that you hadn’t thought of until now. Rack your brains and bring all of your photos and photo storage devices together into one huge set of memories and lay them onto your desk or table.


2.Choose an appropriate storage solution

Thinking about what you have uncovered in the previous step, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Approximately how many photographs do you have?
  • Approximately how many are printed and how many are digital files?
  • How many new photographs do you take each month?


The more photographs you have, and the quicker you take them, the more storage you will need. You don’t want this storage solution to be a flash in the pan, so think about what you need in order to store the next 3-5 years’ worth of memories. Since most of our photographs are now digital, I recommend the ‘storage’ be a shockproof external hard drive such as this one. For printed photographs, clip-lock boxes or these specific photo-storage boxes will protect your best ‘what was I thinking’ snaps for years to come.


3.Create a system so you can find your photographs

Whilst indexing your photographs sounds like the most boring job that ever existed, you should create a system to organise your photographs if you want to locate them with ease! It needn’t be too complex, but you do need something. The simplest way to do this is by year, and then if necessary, by month. Since we take way more pictures now than we used to, classifying by year will probably suffice for the early days as you didn’t take 347 selfies in 1986, and unless you have a fabulous memory you probably won’t remember the exact month your mum took pictures of you in *that* jumpsuit. Where you have special occasions, you can of course add another file within the month, but generally I would recommend to keep things simple and not classifying further.

Whatever you decide, grab your hard drive and create folders to that effect going back to the time of the first photograph you have. Create a similar system for your print photographs within your new photo-boxes and you are good to go!


4.Organise, digitise and file your print photographs

Whilst we love them, printed photographs are fragile things, easily crinkled, torn or damaged. They also take up lots of space. Digitising these prints will help you to preserve them, share them and even edit out that old boyfriend if you so wish.

Google’s Photoscan app is a good tool for this job; it’s easy to use, free and produces decent digital copies of your sepia memories. Before scanning, sort your print photographs using the year/month system above. Once this is completed, take each timeframe (year or month) in turn and scan the photos chronologically using your phone. Upon reaching the end of the timeframe, transfer the digital files straight from the app to the relevant folder your hard drive and physically file the photographs into your new photo boxes. Then repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

I admit that this process will take time, so set an afternoon aside and get cracking. If you have oodles of photographs, grab a friend and have a laugh at those wild hairstyles as you go. Of course, there is always the professional option for digitising prints if you haven’t the time but where is the fun in that?


5.Transfer and file electronic photographs

After your printed photographs, next is to add all of your electronic photographs to your fledgling photo library. Starting with the random USB’s and memory cards- cut the images from their current location, and paste them into the folder in your hard drive which corresponds with when they were taken. Although tempting, try to cut and paste rather than copying as this will really help with version control and forbids you creeping back to storing pictures in a thousand places.

Leaving your phone well alone for now, follow the same process with all other places where you have found digital photographs.

Again, this will take some time, so be patient, be methodical and remind yourself that the next time you do this would be much, much easier!


6.Transfer phone pictures

Now I admit transferring photographs from your phone can be anxiety-inducing, but you can do it!

Connect your phone to your laptop and make sure the folder containing your photographs is arranged by date taken. Starting with the oldest photographs first, right-click on properties to find out when it was taken and then copy and paste it into the correct file on your hard drive (I recommend copy and paste here as you probably don’t want to remove all of the photographs from your phone). Then move onto the next photograph. Once you feel comfortable with this you can copy and paste all photographs from the same month in one go to make it quicker. You should continue doing this until you are at the start of the current month.

If you have photographs shared via apps such as Whatsapp or Instagram backed up to your camera roll, then these have been included in what you have transferred already. If not, you can do this by logging into your Whatsapp and Instagram accounts on your laptop and downloading your photographs straight to your hard drive.


7.Sense check what you have…and relish in organised photo-bliss

At this stage you are pretty much at the point of having a fully-fledged personal photo library. However, I do recommend a quick sense check of your hard work. Looking directly to your hard drive, go through each monthly folder in turn and arrange by date. Scan through your pictures and delete any duplicates- files with the exact same file name usually copied from two locations. Look out also for any images that have clearly been misfiled and make the necessary changes.

Once this step is complete, you will have a true photo archive; several folders on your hard drive, within which are all of your photographs -print and digital- that correspond to that year and month. Getting to this stage is no mean feat so be proud of what you have achieved and reap the benefits of having this task that you have been thinking about for months finally off your to-do list!


8.Put in place some steps to help maintain organised photograph paradise

Whilst you may now be sick of the sight of times gone by, you do have beautifully organised photographs and I am sure that you would like to keep them that way! Below are a few actions that could help you maintain organised paradise

  • Try not to have photographs in 387 different places in the first place: Whether that means filing a print photograph straight into its box, or saving electronic photographs directly onto your hard drive, file photographs straight away to avoid ever getting into such a state again
  • Set your phone up so that all of your photographs save onto your camera roll: Whilst you may have a few ones on there that you may not want to cherish forever, it is much easier to delete these few than copy across all of the ones that you do want
  • Don’t leave it so long next time! With regards to your phone (and if you don’t follow point one), add new photographs to your treasured photo library every three months rather than once in a blue moon. Make a note of where you have left off today, set yourself a reminder for a few months’ time and then be surprised at how quick you can get through many months of selfies


Et voila! A step-by-step guide of how to organise your precious memories.

If this post has spurred you on to tackle organising your photo mountain- digital or otherwise- then I would love to know which tips proved to be the most useful in the comments below. As said, this task will take time, but you will be glad you did it and it will no longer be clouding your mind; no more time wasted looking for things and no more worries about losing those special moments.

As always, if these tips are not enough and you would like some more dedicated assistance, then do not hesitate to get in touch with Organising Claudia for more dedicated assistance.

Feel free to browse the ‘Tips and Tricks of a Professional Organiser’ page for golden nuggets such as how to organise your wardrobe, and stay tuned for the next blog on managing your paperwork coming soon!




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