Photo Organizing Basics

photo organizing basics rainy day organizer

Written by Sonja Anderson

July 15, 2019

Do numerous photo albums and boxes of pictures have you overwhelmed?  If so, read on for some tips on getting those prints organized.

You should have three copies of backed up photos.  The prints themselves, and scanned pics.  You can have two copies of digitized photos.  One copy to be stored off site, either at a relative’s home, your work, or a safe deposit box.  This will safeguard those precious memories.

The first step is to gather all photos in one location.  Then decide what your goal is for organizing.  Will you be leaving a legacy for future generations?  Creating a celebratory slideshow of a special occasion?  Just wanting to be able to find pics from past events?

The founder of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers), Cathi Nelson, has developed the ABCs of photo organizing.

  • A is for Album.  These are top of the line photographs that you cannot live without.  They are the very best.  The A’s should go in a pile of their own.
  • B is for Box/Backup.  These photos are of secondary importance.  They’re still good quality and should be kept.
  • C is for Can.  You absolutely can throw out the poor quality prints.  Those that are too grainy, blurred, and repeats can be chucked.  The repeats (duplicates) can also be gifted to friends, relatives, a museum, or historical society.  If you’re reluctant to throw away pics, mark them with a date for two or three months in the future.  Look through them again and decide whether to can.
  • S is for Story.  These pics support the A pile and tell a story.  They’re important and should be kept.

Use the A and S piles to create albums, collections that include photo books, wall displays/art, and photo products.

Make sure you only use acid-free storage boxes and albums.  Invest in a photo safe pencil to write important information on the back of photos.  This type of pencil can be found in art of craft stores.

Protect Your Photos:

  • Store photos and photo albums in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  • Hang your framed photos on a wall that is not exposed to direct sunlight.  Control light by using blinds and drapes.
  • Wear clean white cotton gloves when handling your prints for extra protection.
  • Avoid photo storage in attics and basements.  The temps and humidity fluctuate too much.

Preserving Printed Photos:

  • Make digital backups.
  • Consider photo restoration on high quality prints that are diminishing in color or need further repair.


Digital Photos
First, download digital photos from your camera and smartphone at least once a month.  You don’t want to have your pics stuck on these devices that could get damaged, lost, or stolen.

Second, edit and edit more.  Delete poor quality and duplicate shots.  Carefully downsize the purely scenic photos and repetitive party pics.  Keeping bad photos will clutter up your collection making it more difficult to find the good shots.

Third, create your folders.  They can be organized chronologically or by theme or, perhaps people.  Inside the numeric month folders, i.e., 01 for January, create themed sub-folders (for example, Jane’s 48th birthday).

Next, rename each photo.  Save renamed, edited photos into the newly created folders.

Then make your backups.  Use of external hard drives, prints, thumb drives, and cloud storage are the most common options.

Use and Preservation of Digital Photos:

  1. Share on social media.
  2. Make a video slideshow by occasion.
  3. Create a digital photo book.
  4. Print faves for a special photo album.
  5. Print special family photos on a canvas to display in your home.

If you would like help with your photo collection, contact Sonja at Rainy Day Organizer for an assessment, 206-769-8568.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, please forward it to someone you know – chances are they are also looking for ways to be more organized and productive!

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