04/20/2015 05:48 EDT | Updated 06/20/2015 05:59 EDT

Organizing Photos: Tips From The Professionals

A pregnant woman sitting in a living room in a chair and holding an ultrasound image in the hands.
Robert Schlesinger/DPA
A pregnant woman sitting in a living room in a chair and holding an ultrasound image in the hands.

Most people have their photography in either one of two formats; the paper kind randomly stored in shoe boxes and plastic bins and/or the digital ones that we take with reckless abandon.

As a result, too many photos are scattered across hard drives, duplicated, mismatched, poorly named and utterly disorganized. It may be time to put some those memories into order.

A little bit of purposeful planning and a few hours of getting your current photos into the right files will be rewarding activity on a rainy day.

Digital Photo Organization:

Frequency -- Download at least once a month from your camera and/or phone to your computer into a photo management programs or into the cloud. (in case of loss or theft)

Delete -- Discard the duplicates and poor-quality shots. Be scrupulous and diligent. Not every photo is precious. Good photos amongst bad ones won't stand out.

Quick Fixes -- try your photo program's one-click editing tool, such as Picasa's "I Feel Lucky" button or iPhoto's "Enhance" feature.

Make Folders -- According to chronological order or a theme or a combination of the two. Create themed subfolders such as Vacation, Parties, Friends; key words that work for you.

Back it up - Immediately save shots to an external drive, an online or storage service.

Storage -- If you go with an online service, look for one that focuses on storage. Those that offer printing often charge for downloading a photo and reduce its resolution.

Albums -- One of the best backup methods is a photo album or book that can be ordered on line.

Get Organized -- Delete the photos on the camera or phone once they are organized and secure. You'll avoid downloading duplicates the next time.

Printed Photo Organization

• Supplies -- Invest in a large set of matching photo albums and photo boxes. This will make it easy to organize your photos over the years.

Write it down -- Record an identifying description, such as the date or who's in the photo, on the back of each photo. Use an acid-free, photo-safe pencil or pen.

Toss Them -- Don't keep bad exposures, blurry shots, or bloopers. Throw away any photos you'd rather not remember.

Identify -- Label each envelope with dates and any other identifying description. Transfer prints less bulky acid-free envelopes.

Create categories -- Use broad categories that are easy to remember when the time comes to search out that certain shot i.e. Family events, Travel holidays, Birthday/Parties. Use keywords or tags to jog your memory and a ratings system to highlight your best shots.

Boxes -- Use photo boxes to create a filing system and don't forget to LABEL them with and identifying word or date.

Temperature Control -- Avoid storing photos in basements or attics, where temperatures and humidity fluctuate.

Damage Control -- Avoid paper clips, rubber bands, glue, and unless specifically designed as safe for photos. Use acid free plastic pages, bags and boxes to avoid long term damage.

Getting Help -- A specialized photo organizer in your area can be found through Association for Photo Professional Organizers.

To find a Professional Organizer in your area, visit the POC website at


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