Establish a System For Pictures

posted by Andrea | 01/8/2011

It’s day #6 if my “11-in-20110” challenge — we’re over half way!

How are you doing?

I’ve received several emails, comments, facebook messages, and “tweets” proclaiming that many of you have started making your bed, stocking your freezer, tracking your finances, donating your unused stuff, and better managing your time!!

Yay…so exciting!

I’m also really excited for today’s goal because it’s has been on my goals list FOREVER…and while I have made some progress over the years, I’m not ready to take it off my list.

Goal #6: Establish a System for Pictures:

Pictures are a huge issue when it comes to clutter control. I know, because nearly EVERY client I’ve ever worked with asks me how to better manage their pictures. I see how much stress their “picture clutter” causes them and I don’t want that in my life. However, I’ve taken the opposite extreme and rarely take any pictures at all.

Our lack of pictures is due to several factors:

  1. We both hate taking pictures
  2. We don’t like being in pictures
  3. We don’t travel or do lots of fun things that we want to take pictures of
  4. We don’t like taking a camera around with us
  5. I don’t want to end up with boxes and bins of pictures lying around the house
  6. I don’t have a great system for managing the pictures we DO take

For all these reasons, I’ve simply stopped taking pictures.

Don’t believe me?? Let me elaborate!

Dave and I got married in June of 2006 and we had professional pictures taken.

Then, this past fall Dave’s family decided to have family pictures taken, so we got our picture professional taken again.

However, in the 4.5 years between these 2 pictures, we probably have less than 15 pictures of us! {Nope, I’m not exaggerating!} You can see a few of those pictures here, but the rest are just on my computer! I haven’t even printed them off. I do take other pictures of scenery and our new house…but just not of us.

This summer, I blogged about how I scanned in ALL my childhood pictures and created digital {and printed} photo albums using Blurb. I’d like to continue this process with the pictures from our wedding until now…but I hardly have any pictures to use.

So, my 6th goal for 2011 is not only to start taking MORE pictures, but also to figure out a really simple, organized way to get those pictures into a photo album {probably using Blurb again}.

Currently, when I take pictures, I edit them with Picnik and save them to an external hard drive. I have a folder for every year, and “sub-folders” for every month. Then they just sit there…waiting! So I’m open to suggestions 🙂

What methods do you use to organize your photos?


Filed under: FamilyPhotography

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  1. Brandon


    Andrea, You and David look great!!!!! I am so glad you are doing well. Thanks for the photo credit. BTW… If you ever need your photo taken I will never charge you to take it. Your blog is right on with this topic.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Brandon… maybe we’ll have to take you up on that offer for some family pictures this summer 🙂


  2. Melissa


    I am making this a goal for 2012. I have over 10,000 photos – yes, that’s right – over 10,000 PRINTED photos – most are in triplicate. Why??? I USED to sell scrapbooks & supplies. I taught classes. I gathered ideas and stuff ~ it’s all stored in my basement. HOWEVER, I never LIKED making the actual scrapbooks – it all seemed too juvenile to me – I am a photographer and prefer the artistic aspect of it and adding cutsey pie stickers and die cuts seemed to ruin the images for me. But, digital scrapbooking appeals to me. So do digital frames. So, my question is, how does one decide on a scanner??? And what about one that is high speed and possibly even self loading??? LOL

    And what about computers? Mine is 8 years old and overly full with the current digital images (nearling 8k…). I’d dearly love a Mac – I hear they are super awesome for photographs. And, besides the obvious sorting (chronologically), is there a way to TAG photos, so I could sort them by a kid’s name? Or event? Making life easier than trying to remember a particular date… I have 6 kids spanning 18 years.

    If anybody can point me to more info on digital scrapbooking, that’s be awesome. So, after scanning all the photos, did you throw them away? Or keep them?

    In the past 2 days, I’ve read your site for several hours. It’s an absolute delight!! Not sure what rabbit trail I followed to get here, but glad to be here. Thanks for all the gems!!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Melissa!!
    Wow, that’s a lot of photos!! I would definitely recommend purchasing a portable hard drive and getting ALL those pictures off your computer and onto a portable hard drive. Then put the portable hard drive in a fire-proof safe. That way you don’t have to worry about losing all your photos if your computer crashes or if your house burns down. Along with storing our photos on a portable hard drive, I also upload many of them to Flickr and I tag them with the month and the year so I can know what the chronological order is when I make my yearly digital photo albums.
    Also, I would recommend for creating digital photo albums. It’s a free program to download and not too expensive. I do all my books with them and the quality is really great.
    And to answer your last question, after I scanned in our photos I did throw out most of the actual hard copies. I gave all the baby/toddler pictures back to my parents and kept a handful of my absolute favorites… but I tossed the rest! It was a little scary but it feels great to have such little photo clutter!!
    Good luck!


  3. Robbie


    I just finished reorganizing over fifty-five years of photos and am so proud of my work. I actually opted for book type albums as they look nice and neat. Wal-Mart has them for a very reasonable price, though sometimes their inventory is sketchy. I have them all sorted in my linen armoire by families (so I can grab albums as we visit different parts of our families) and my pets, places we have lived, etc. I am so pleased to have this huge project complete, with only maybe a handful to file. Now to work on my digital photos, which have come into play recently and are now overwhelming me. I keep mine by year and then by categories, similar to my paper albums. Going to start printing the best of the digitals to add to the paper books sometime this winter, hoping to be complete by May, when I graduate and my life as I know it will drastically change.


  4. Theresa Finnigin


    My habits are similar to yours. I organize them in folders by year and then by months. I like photos in chronological order. But like you, mine just sit there!


    Andrea Reply:

    Well, at least our photos are organized; that’s more than most people can say 🙂 And I suppose, if we ever DO decide to display any pictures — we’ll know exactly where to find them!


  5. Andrea


    Andrea: A couple of years ago I learned about a company that takes digital photo books to the next level- Heritage Makers. Their primary focus is not only to preserve photos, but also the stories that go with them. That way the memories that go with the pictures can be preserved and shared with family and friends for years (even generations!) to come. They also have tons of digital art and other projects (cards, posters, scrap-pages, etc.) so that you can scrapbook witht he best of them- digitally! I loved this concept because I love hearing stories about my family- especially my parents and grandparents. I became a consultant (although my 2 young children are my primary focus right now) so that I could tell other people about this great company.
    Check out my website!


    Andrea Reply:

    thanks for the great information Andrea. I’d love to learn more about these products. I looked on your website but didn’t see a way to just use and/or purchase the products without having a “party”. Are the products available for purchase outside of a party?
    Everything looks so professional!!


  6. Bekah


    Thanks for this posting – it got me brainstorming as picture organization is something I need to work on! I have a DIY girls night coming up (food, drinks and projects we need/want to work on!!), and in addition to organizing and consolidating recipes, I am planning to work on pictures. In lieu of printing all the pictures and having boxes laying around, I too am going to make photo books. Haven’t decided yet if it will be one for each kid each year or one for each calendar year, but what a great keepsake and so much easier than having tons of photos laying around! Then I just print out the photos I need (i.e., kids’ school projects, to fill frames, etc.)


    Andrea Reply:

    Bekah, I LOVE this girl’s night idea!!! I might just have to initiate that with some of my friends!
    What a great idea to get together AND accomplish something at the same time…that’s my type of fun!

    Thanks for the tips 🙂


  7. Heather @ Mrs. Southern Bride


    I used to get so overwhelmed with pictures! However, I was introduced to Picasa by Google. It’s a free, down loadable software that stores, edits, and manages each photo session by folders…however it’s all stored on the program, and not all over your computer.

    On my desk top, I keep one folder marked “Current Photos”, and when I need to print something from Picasa, I transfer it there. The best thing about Picasa is that it records the date, time, and camera details of each picture.

    Josh, and I both love taking pictures, and it’s important to us. One way that we’ve found we can enjoy our pictures is using digital frames. No prints, and our friends always enjoy watching the slide shows when they come over.


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  9. Niki


    I love your blog and I have gleaned so much wisdom from you! I’ve never commented, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!! I rarely take pics & I have 2 children!! My friends fuss on facebook about it!! I don’t like the clutter or to see myself in pics. However, I am going to TRY to do better!


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for commenting Niki! Sounds like we should both be taking more pictures in 2011 🙂


  10. Megan Camp


    Only 15 pictures of you and your hubby in 4 years? Wow! You definitely should start taking some more! If you have kids someday, they’ll love looking back at pictures from the early years. I LOVE taking pictures and have a very good method to organize and USE my pictures. I actually am totally caught up on my photobooks and just received my 2010 photobook in the mail two days ago (I even have a 2 month old baby and a 3 year old).

    I back-up my photos to both an external hard-drive and Shutterfly (free, easy, permanent). I lost 4 years of pictures off my hard-drive but am so thankful they are backed up still on Shutterfly. Definitely recommend uploading them online somewhere.

    I organize my folders by year. Under each year, I create individual folders for each “event” that I take photos of. I always start with the year, month, then day and label what the activity was (2011-01-06 Sledding). This keeps them all organized by date automatically AND I can easily see what is in the folder. For all of the random, misc shots that weren’t really part of an event, I put them in a folder for each month called something like: 2011-01-01 Jan Misc Pictures. That way I don’t have to create a folder for those little random pictures but they’re still organized by month so when I create my photobooks they’re still essentially in order of time.

    I create a photobook for our family every year recording what I want to remember. I start from January and go through the end of December. I always put a family photo on the front cover and on the title page, list the town and state we lived in that year. I include as many details as possible (names of friends, a few stories from my blog). It’s amazing how easy it is to forget the names of people you used to hang out with 10 years down the road. I work on my photobooks in the evenings during down time or while watching movies with my husband. I can crank out a 90 pg photobook in 1-2 weeks if needed. However, I try to continue to work on them throughout the year so I don’t have to do so much at one time.

    Hope this helps and that you successfully organize (and start taking) pictures.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Megan,
    Sounds like you are really organized and have your pictures totally under control!! Your system seems like something I could handle.

    I do already have the files for every year and then for every month, but I like your Misc. folder tips. I also just started a Flickr account so I’m hoping to back up all our pictures online too {once I actually start taking them!}

    I still plan to use Blurb to create my photo books…and once I start taking pictures, my goal is to make one book per year too.

    Thanks again for your tips!