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Organizing Family Photos

Why digitizing family photos is a waist of time.

Did you know that digital files aren’t archival?  What does that mean?  In 30 years from now when you want to look back at 2016 and the hundreds of pictures you took with your phone camera you will likely not be able to find them.  In that time you will have gone through several computers and hard drives.  Technology will be completely different and your files will likely be inaccessible or corrupt.  Digital files are not archival and if something goes wrong their is no retrieving them.  Prints on the other hand can last for generations.  And if they are damaged the technology to repair a print far surpasses that of the ability to retrieve a crashed hard drive or accidentally deleted files that vanish into thin air.

Instead of digitizing old prints I’m working on managing and organizing my family photos.  We take so many pictures now days that it is difficult to keep them organized and not feel overwhelmed.  Here are my three simple steps to dealing with family pictures.

organizing family photosStep #1 Cull, sort and label

Ideally this is done immediately once you download your pictures. Most photo software has the ability to label your pictures. Flag or star your favorite photos. Delete multiples or pictures that you simply don’t need or want.  I know it hurts to say the word delete but I strongly believe in quality over quantity.  I would rather have 10 pictures in a format that can be easily viewed than 100 pictures I can never find.  Just like you would label your printed pictures you should sort and label your digital pictures.  I label mine by month/year and event.

Step #2 Print your Favorites

If you flagged your favorites when you downloaded them then this step is simple.  I recommend printing them as a 4×6. We aren’t talking about pictures for the wall.  These are pictures that you want to archive and store long term. Don’t print everything. Just the favorites.

Step #3 Organize and store your prints

I use these containers to organize the prints and I use Project Life for a quick scrapbook.  I don’t do anything fancy just slide them in sleeves and write a few short stories to go with them.

I’ve developed a great system for printing sorting and organizing my photos so I can find them at any given time.  It’s more info than what I want to share on the blog so I’m offering a FREE WORKSHOP on Thursday August 25 to help you get a handle on your massive amounts of photos.

organizing family photos

Bonus Step

Get in the habit of backing up your pictures.  I recommend having at least three digital copies of your pictures.  Life happens and you may not get your pictures printed immediately so be prepared.

1- Computer Hard Drive- The original location where pictures were downloaded from your phone and/or camera.

2- External Hard Drive- Using a system like Time Machine works great for an automatic backup that you don’t have to think about.

3- Cloud service- There are several services that you can use.  I use a couple different kinds.  Backblaze can back up all your files.  I’ve used it for several years and love it.  I also use Dropbox and love having the ability to access my photos from several devices.


Do you have any questions or comments about this advice ? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

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