How to Easily Organize Your Family Photos

Woman and girl looking at pictures on a laptop.Alliance Images / Shutterstock

Thanks to smartphones, people are now taking on a trillion digital photos every year. Whether you print your images or save them digitally, their organization may seem like an impossible task.

However, there are good reasons to organize your family photos. When you can quickly find your photos, it's much easier to save, share, publish, or print them. An organization system ensures that the photos you like from this holiday will not be buried in the depths of your smartphone or attic, they will never be seen again.

Whether your family has children, loved ones, pets, or a group of close friends, here's how to organize these photos so you can easily access your memories for years to come.

How to organize digital photos

When you are thinking of arranging photos, your mind will probably first turn to a stack of glossy prints waiting for a house in a photo album. But for many people today, the vast majority of their photos are on their phone, their computer or online. So let's start with how to sort these digital photos.

Start to delete images

A good place to start is to change your photo habits. One of the most useful practices you can take to organize your digital photos is to delete the images regularly.

This does not mean that you have to get rid of the images you like. But every time you take a lot of photos, take a few minutes on the same day to browse them and delete the bad ones. Any images that are unclear, unflattering, too dark, or that are not worth saving, you can delete them immediately so that your phone is not cluttered with dark photos.

Whenever you have a few free minutes (waiting at the doctor or at the airport, for example), scroll through your old photos and delete the bad ones. Reducing the number of images you have saved makes their organization easier.

Use digital albums

Your smartphone and your computer allow you to place photos in albums. Use this tool regularly! Name the albums with a specific name, such as "Travel to Atlantic City" and consider adding dates to each of them, to find out when it happened.

You can also use albums to organize your photos logically. For example, you can assign each family member an album on your phone so you can quickly find a specific photo of that person when you need it. Or, you can organize photos into albums by month and year, so you can easily find an image by date.

Search a tool for organizing photos

If you already have thousands of photos on your phone or other device, their organization may seem almost impossible. However, there are many photo organizing software that can automate part of the process.

Experiment with a few options until you find one that works for you. We particularly like Mylio. It's free, syncs photos from different devices and platforms and organizes them by date with your calendar app. It can even sort your photos according to their recipient with facial recognition software.

Have a backup system

No matter how and where you organize your digital photos, always have a backup system. You can upload your photos to the cloud or save them to an external hard drive. It is often tempting to think that digital images are permanent. But if you only save them in one place, you always risk losing them or permanently deleting them. Having multiple backup systems is also a good idea. For a serious review of multilayer photo backup strategies, check out the foolproof photo backup guide on our partner site How-To Geek.

It takes time and diligence to organize your digital photos. At first, you may need a few hours a week to put some order in your photos. Try to stay on top of sorting, deleting and saving each new photo you take.

It's up to you to decide how much time and energy you devote to this project, but you may need to put considerable effort into organizing your photo collection. You can also call on a professional photo organizer if you want someone to take the job off you.

How to organize printed photos

Print pictures spread on a table next to a camera.Pablo Scapinachis / Shutterstock

For most people, organizing digital photos is the hardest task because digital photos tend to accumulate faster than printed photos. But if you often print your photos or if you have a complete collection of pre-smartphone times, you may also want to put them in order.

Gather your photos

To arrange physical photos, you can start by gathering them all in one place. Take the old boxes, envelopes and photo albums from where they are hiding and store them in the same place so you can see what you are working with.

Sort your photos

Now sort your photos one by one and choose the ones to keep. Just like your digital photos, you can get rid of all the bad or meaningless images, as well as duplicates (it's a good idea to save the duplicate photos you really like).

Sort the remaining photos into piles according to what you plan to do. For example, you might have a stack of those you want to display in frames, the ones you want to insert into albums, and the ones you plan to store. For your most special photos, you can write the place and date of their taking in the photo pencil safe on the back.

Finally, sort each pile and decide on its organization. For example, you can separate photos by date, location, or person. That way, when you put them in albums or boxes, they are in a logical order.

When sorting your photos, be sure to touch only the edges. Otherwise, the oils in your fingers can gradually degrade the photo. You can also wear gloves during this task.

If you plan to scan your printed photos for digital copies, consider organizing them into albums (or archive boxes) containing a place to write notes next to each photo. This way you can extract your favorites, scan them and note that you have done it. By working in small quantities, you can get all your best images in digital format over time.

Store your photos

Now it's time to put your photos where they belong depending on how you sort them.

If you use albums, use those with a clear plastic pouch rather than adhesive pages because the adhesive damages the photos over time. For storage of the box, you can get archive photo boxes to keep them safe. Keep in mind that albums take up a lot more space than boxes.

When storing your photos, try to organize them according to the system you chose earlier. For example, if you've sorted them by date, put your photos in chronological order as much as you can.

Store your photos in a cool, dry and dark place for them to last longer. If you hang a photo on your wall, try to keep it away from direct sunlight, which fades the colors.

Organizing your family's photos is not an easy task, so divide them into parts – do not try to do everything in one day. Once you're done, keeping your new photos organized will not be difficult. And the satisfaction of meeting this organizational challenge may be worth it!

To learn how to use your photos once you have sorted them, do not miss this post.

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