Photo by Jeremy Hall
Reader Vicki asks:
“I am truly flabergasted at what to do with ALL the photos and videos of our little guy, especially since we are hoping to have more children in the future. I love to scrapbook, but now have very little room or time for it. How do you organize your photos, what do you do with them all?”
A good question, Vicki, because even though the digital world makes photo storage so much easier, it can still cause clutter build-up. In fact, digital photography can cause both physical clutter and mental clutter – it’s so easy to take hundreds of photos in one sitting, but then you have to decide among them all which are the best for printing.
I tried to scrapbook because I love so many of the supplies, and it quenched some of my creative thirst. But I discovered two problems for me – one, the cost of supplies really added up; and two, I just didn’t have the time to do it well. Being a recovering perfectionist, if I can’t do something well, I’d rather not do it at all.
We, too, have tons of photos of our kids – I suppose that’s a universal issue for modern-day parents. And it’s challenging to whittle down to the absolute best ones (who wants to delete their kids?). But like home decluttering, it’s cathartic to delete all but the best – I promise, you won’t miss the blurry ones, and you’ll better appreciate the ones you do keep.
Here’s our family’s basic system:
• As we download photos from our camera to the computer, we store them in files labeled by the month and year.
• I sort through them and delete the unusable ones. This is often where my husband and I part ways – he’s more inclined to keep more than I’d like. But since it’s not a major issue for me, I default to him, and leave a photo if in doubt.
• I upload a sampling of the best photos to our family’s Flickr account. When I have time, I edit them in Photoshop first.
• At the end of the month, we burn the month’s photos from the computer’s file on a CD, label it by the month and year, and store it in an ongoing CD book. If the entire month’s worth of photos won’t fit on one CD, we use a DVD.
• From time to time I print a photo for framing. We now have a good printer at home, but when we lived in the States, we sent the files to Costco or CVS via the internet. If I found a “free shipping” coupon online, I’d have them sent to us. (Another benefit to that is that you can send additional copies to other addresses, always a crowd pleaser with the grandparents.)
We didn’t want to take any original photos overseas with us, so before we moved, we made a few photo books. These are bound books made by services that publish your photos in a high-quality, coffee table book-like format.
You could easily make these chronologically by date, but we had four made by themes – our wedding photos and our daughter’s first year were two of them. We’ll make another one for our son’s first year, and then after that, we’ll most likely make annual family photo books.
I used PhotoWorks, which allows you to easily design your books online. Plus, it’s easy to find coupon codes from them around the internet (head here for free shipping, in fact). I’m happy with the way our books printed, but there are plenty of photo book services online.
So, Vicki, that’s what I do – nothing revolutionary. A basic five-step process:
- download photos from the camera to the computer
- upload some of the good ones to Flickr
- burn all the photos each month to a CD or DVD
- occasionally print one for framing
- make a photo book annually
There are other options as well – digital scrapbooking has really taken off, and it can really fuel your creative juices without taking up as much room for supplies as the traditional method. But while it’s easy to find free supplies online, the cost can add up.
For more photo inspiration, Rachel at Small Notebook wrote about her organizing system awhile back, and Heidi from Mt. Hope Chronicles also wrote a good 101 article for novice photographers. Digital Photography School is also an excellent blog with more photography tips than you possibly have time for.
Please chime in, readers – how do you organize and store your photos? Know of a great resource we should all know about? I’m looking forward to learning more good ideas.