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Get Organized | Tips & Tricks Tuesday

This will be one out of several in a series teaching/inspiring you to create your own photo books as keepsakes. If you would like to see the premise and introduction to this series, check out last week’s Thoughtful Thursday post here.

If you are one of many well-meaning moms who captures every second of your child’s life… but has nothing to show for it except several gigabytes of photos in your smart phone’s photo gallery, then this post is for you!

But first things first… we have to start smart. The key to this project is going to be ORGANIZATION. Unless you are a super diligent, type A photo-taker mommy and you already automatically download all of your pictures to your computer every month into folders labeled by date, then we have some work to do. Your life will be much easier if we organize first and play later.

Collect Your Photos

Where are your photos? Are they on your smart phone, in your camera, on your computer… or a combination of all three?

You will need to collect all of the photos you have and want to use/back up, and organize them. I recommend getting them all together in the same spot and grouping them by date.

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Option 1:

You can start by creating a folder system on your computer:

  1. Create a folder that says “Pictures.”
  2. Within that folder, create a folder for each year.
  3. Within each year’s folder, create folders for each month.
  4. Within each month, you can create sub folders of specific events– or just keep it general and toss every image from that month into the folders created in step 3 above.

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Now begins the fun of transferring all of the images from your phone and camera into these folders. This part will be extremely tedious, but in the end, you will be glad you did this! It also serves as an easy reference photo library in the future… if you need to find a picture from a certain time (July 4th, 2014, or you daughter’s first birthday party in February 2015)… think how it easy it will be to find that image!

Option 2:

Instead of organizing your images by way of folders, most computers have photo software to help you organize and view your images. One such program is iPhoto, if you have an Apple computer. I am sure Windows has its own similar program (I haven’t used Windows in years!!), or you may also find something online that does this. Do a little research and find something that is easy for you to use that you like.

For this method, usually the photo software will want you to upload your images to its software by default, and will guide you through the organization process. The nice thing about iPhoto, if you have it, is that it also syncs with your iPhone’s photos (you must turn on photo sharing) and any image you take on your phone will automatically pop up in that shared folder. You will have an opportunity to organize your images into albums by date. Any photo software will operate in a similar way, and I am all for people using whichever method helps them to stay organized!

*Regardless of which option you choose, I recommend completing this step at maximum once per month, or anytime you have taken a lot of photos at a big event. Rather than letting them all pile up for 6 months, it is so much nicer to keep on top of this and is more tolerable in smaller chunks!

Hone Down

Not everyone will have to take this step, but I always do! I am a bit snap-happy, and always end up with about 40 versions of the same image that I don’t need. Something to keep in mind is that pictures take up A LOT of space on your hard drive, so if you find you always have extra pictures you will never use, you will want to take this step.

One way to avoid this in the future is to be cognizant while you are operating your phone or camera. Once you have snapped pictures of an event, quickly scroll through them on your phone or camera, and delete any bad photos or images you know you’ll never use. This is an easy way to avoid having to do this at this point!

Once you have loaded and organized all of your images, your next step is to view each image and decide whether you want to keep it or trash it. Only keep the images you will do something with (i.e. make a print of, put into a slideshow, or put into your photo books). Trust me– you don’t need 50 pictures of the same shot of your 1-year-old stuffing his face with cake. Keep 3 of your favorites and move on. This is something I had to learn the hard way, because I have a very hard time parting with each moment, face, and pose!

The easiest way to view your images will be in your photo software of choice, or a photo viewer. It will take forever if you double click on each photo file, open it up big, and take 30 seconds deciding whether to keep it or not! Another option (for Mac users) is to go to each folder with those images, make the dialogue box big, and go to the “Cover Flow” icon at the top. This allows you to see your images big in a slideshow format, and you can easily arrow up and down through your images and simply press the “trash can” icon for the ones you don’t want to keep. Don’t forget to empty the trash when you’re done! 🙂

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iPhoto Tip: If you have iPhoto, a cool little feature to help “hone down” quickly without having to delete is to go through all of your images and with the ones you like and want to do something with– select the little “heart” icon on the image. Then, you can create “smart albums” that are specific to the favorites in certain date ranges. For example, if you wanted to see the favorites for this summer, you could set the parameters to be “Photo is Favorite” and “Date is After 6/1/16” to view your Summer 2016 favorites. (There will also automatically be a “Favorites” album created that will store ALL images you have “hearted” as a favorite.)

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Is this exhausting yet??

One last step in today’s post… and this one is an important one:

Back Up Your Images!

Computers do crash, and accidents do happen… trust me, it has happened to me more times than I would like to count! You will want to back up your images in a place somewhere other than your computer. Additionally, if you are a crazy-picture-take-woman like me, you will eventually want to move some of your pictures off of your computer altogether to a separate location.

I recommend buying a separate external hard drive for your photos. You can find little external hard drives for pretty cheap (with large amounts of storage) online. If you start with a minimum of 1 TB of storage, this should store quite a few year’s worth of images and/or videos for you.

The nice thing about backing up these images now is that they are NICE AND ORGANIZED! Simply drag your “year” folders onto the external hard drive (usually connected with a USB cord) and let it do its magic. These transfers can take several hours, so you may want to leave and do something else for awhile, but always double check and make sure everything copied over before deleting anything on your computer’s hard drive.

I usually keep the current year’s images on my computer’s hard drive and back up as I go, and then delete the previous year’s folder at some point once I have double checked they are successfully backed up on my external drive. If you want to be extra cautious, you can even buy two external drives and make two copies.


I will be back next Tuesday with the continuation of this post… today was a doozy! Next week will start to get a little more fun 🙂

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