Organizing digital and printed photos

February 15, 2017

I'm sending out an SOS! I got my act together last year when I finished purging our whole house using the Konmari method. It's one of the best things I've ever done for our home.

BUT I ignored a small section of the house. Going through our photos was too overwhelming at the time and I knew it would take me at least a month. So I told myself I would tackle it later. Later has come and I'm totally intimidated by the thought of it.

This is what I'm going to tackle over the next few weeks:

That's not even all of it -- the rest goes back into the corner of the closet. As you can see, most of it is at least in some kind of box. MOST. When we try to access something up there at least ten photos rain down on us. :) 

Although it doesn't look like it, I treasure these so much. I actually have quite a few old, vintage photos from our family (on all sides) through the generations. Because my home life was crappy for a few years in my teens, I lost pretty much everything from my childhood. All I have left is in a small storage box and these photos -- so I want to do them justice. 

The only part of this that is slightly put together (although it doesn't look like it) are the boxes I use for our son's school artwork and papers:
Organizing and storing kids papers and artwork

I get them every year at the Container Store and use one box for each grade. It's super easy to slip art and papers in the box -- we keep it on our shelves in the kitchen:
Pretty and useful kitchen organization

Someday I'd like to do even more with that, but for now the photos -- those are my nemesis. And the thing is, we've barely added any photos over the past ten years and that's something I'd like to change. I know...I've got enough to deal with here, but I actually want to add to the photos because everything sits on our computers and phones. I really want to start printing them out and adding them to photo albums. 

So I HAVE to get this figured out. This is my plan and then I need some advice on my questions below: 

1. Take everything out of the closet. 
Loose photos need to go into boxes -- I don't even care what box at this point, I just want them put away. 
2. Go through every single photo. 
This is going to take forever. I just know there are so many random pics that we really don't need to keep, as well as plenty of duplicates. (Remember when we used to get film developed and got doubles? Yeah, I did that a lot.)
3. Organize the photos by box. 
I actually did this years ago -- those photo boxes used to have labels. No idea where those went along the way. 😳 I had a box for travel, one for high school, college, family...etc. Need to do that all over again. 
4. Go through boxes and start filling photo albums. 
I'm not sure I want to get a ton of photo albums and fill those, or use the boxes for most of the pictures. How do you do it? I DO want to fill a few albums (I already have them) because I know we would pull them out to look at them a lot more often than heavy boxes.
5. Organized large photos
I have quite a few old family photos that are especially large. I think I have a solution for that but I'll let you know how that turns out.

Number five is why I really want to tackle this -- I realized recently that our son doesn't often see photos of himself from years ago unless we show him something from Facebook or our old phones. It makes me sad! I want him to be able to go through the albums with us and I want the albums organized so he can have them someday if he wants them. 

This is where I need help!
  • Do you use boxes or albums for your photos and why? 
  • Do you print photos off your phone on a normal basis? My sister uses the Meijer app and is SO good about sending off some to be printed on a regular basis. I want to do the same. Is there an app you like or a store that does it? 
  • Where do you store your photos online? I used to use Photobucket for personal photos but haven't really done that for years since most of our photos are on our phones. (Although I think they have an app -- I need to look into that.) Are there apps you like that store photos? 
  • I'd really love to start making the photo books I see out there -- maybe for specific trips or for a year at a time. Do any of you do the printed books on a regular basis? Is there one you love? 
  • How do you store photos long term -- on your computer? An external drive? Online? 

Whew! See? I need help! I want to get this part of our life under control, but I also want us to start enjoying all of these memories a bit more. 

I feel like this is the final organizing frontier in our home...everything else has a place and is organized fairly well. Once I get this under control I know I will feel great about it. And this is another one of those things that I want to have organized for our kids -- I try to be cognizant of what we're leaving them. (God forbid if anything happens to us.) But even long term, I want to have our memories put together for them in the future. 

I'd love your advice! You are all a wealth of information so please feel free to share! :)

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  1. I could have written every word of this post, I am in the exact same spot. I've got our house in complete order and it feels so refreshing and then I open the hall closet to see that top shelf or click a folder on my computer and I feel like I can't breathe looking at all the photos. I recently took the time to move all the digital versions I have to yearly folders so there is some sort of order but there are 10+ years of them and so many pictures. I too have old family photos that are all I have left and I really want to be able to see them and have our kids see their pictures as well. I would love to hear what ideas you get and anything you find that you think is going to help you tackle it. I could use some inspiration and accountability. I love pictures and I think it's all just overwhelming that I'm afraid to start!! -Jess

  2. Hi! So what I would do, once you have it pared down to the pictures that you really, really want, is scan them and digitize them. Walgreens or CVS or other archive type companies can do this for you. In some cases, you can even mail them in and receive them back on a disc. Look around--this service is great and it's what I used! After you've done this, rather than shove them all into photo albums, make photo books! You a. have a lot more flexibility in your layouts, and b. can make them as big or as small as you want. You can then incorporate both your scanned pictures AND your already digitized pictures (facebook, phone, etc.) into one place. It's a tedious process, all of it, and I completely understand why you've put this off. It was a monster of a process but I'm so pleased that it's done. Our photo books are hardcover, but you can finish them as expensively or inexpensively as you want. It's the best of both worlds. Every photo website has a version of this, and they are all super easy and intuitive to use. What I would /not do is put them all in boxes and put them away. You'll just build up again and never use them. Keep the vintage pictures you really, really want to keep in a photo album, or a box like you have your little dude's school pics. Something you'll use and go through often. OR consider a gallery wall. Or simple photo display. PINTEREST, my babe. getting them out of a box and onto a wall will ensure that you'll actually get to see them and cherish them. And obviously, take this all with a grain of salt. But I no longer have boxes of pictures I'll never go through. I have them all online, and backed-up, and the pictures I actually want in hard copy in photo books. I have one for each of my kids, in terms of their baby/toddler/preschool pictures, and I make a family one each year that incorporates everything from holidays, to school holidays, to vacations. You can even do one of those vintage photos for each side of your family. Then it's all confined to one of your bookshelves in your library, and you have easy access to them and flip through them whenever you want. Oh, this was rambling, sorry! I do hope you've maybe gathered a few ideas, though. I don't regret ditching my boxes and boxes of pictures. I had one small box for the vintage/special ones I still need in hard copy.

  3. We totally struggle with photo organization too, but I always love hearing how other people organize their chaos. Our system isn't perfect, but this is what we do:

    1. Dropbox - My husband and I both have Pro accounts and it is totally worth it. We created a shared folder for all our photos to sync to (iPhone pics and good camera pics). The system detects and removes duplicates, ensures that all our photos are backed up, and we can both access our full library of photos easily from any iOS device or computer without it actually taking up space on those devices.
    2. For printed photos and artwork - We use a system with scansnap and hazel (I posted about it here Once things are backed up and saved then we stick the photos in albums or hand some of the art work on the walls.

  4. I am in the same boat! I made albums in high school and college but after I started getting so busy and having kids I totally stopped printing them out and they are all on my computer now. I have them backed up on CDs that are labeled what season/year is on there. I like the idea of making one photo book a year with our favorite photos though!

  5. Photos are so overwhelming especially in the digital age where we take so many more that we would have in the past since we always have a camera with us wherever we go! For the past several years, after each family vacation I made a photo book and this year for the first time I made a family "year in review" photo book with the "best of" pictures throughout the year. The pictures on my phone automatically upload to dropbox so I can easily access them on my computer without having to send them all to myself. That way I can put all the pictures from my nice camera and my phone into one folder to create the book. It's definitely time consuming but it is SO worth it! Good luck!!

    1. I've been doing albums for baby and toddler photos but I'd like to switch to a printed annual after that. What company are you getting the books printed with? Roughly what do you spend per book and how big are you books if you don't mind me asking.

    2. I do a year in review album each year and have done it since 2010. I use shutterfly and my books range in price from $30-$80 (that is on a crazy good sale). I recently got 4 printed at once and before the sales and free shipping and coupons it would have been more than $200. I only print when there's a good sale and around $30-$40 per book. The more pages you have and the mroe special designs you use, th emore $$$ it is.

    3. Thanks for info,Jenni. Sounds like the key is to make the book so it's ready, even if there isn't a sale. Then be patient.

  6. I'm currently in the process of sorting through and organizing my pictures as well. Pinterest has a lot of ideas!
    Right now I'm going through digital pictures. I'm sorting in folders by year. And in each year I'm breaking it down in folders labeled 2010 05 trip to CA etc (a trip to California in may of 2010). Then my folders are organized in chronological order and it's easy to know what's in each folder.
    I plan on backing up to Dropbox or google drive once I'm done.
    And then eventually Im making super simple books to get printed for each year. If I try and think about doing it all fancy and scrapbooked I'll get overwhelmed and abandon the project.
    For the printer pictures, I'm thinking I will scan and digitize them and save them in the year folders that they go in.
    Some pictures are obliviously old and I have no idea what year they are pictures of my parents when they were growing up so I label the folder as what it is.
    I don't have kids yet...but I plan on doing one file box with a file for each year/grade that way I can only keep so many pieces of art and accomplishments.
    Good luck!

    This was my main source of inspiration to tackle organizing my pictures.

  8. We just sent half of our videotapes to Legacybox to digitize. We got both DVDs and a thumb drive. They will also do photos.

    My photos, I have regularly been uploading digital photos to shutterfly for years. They have an app where you can send any unsent on your phone to a folder on their site. Their photo books are regularly on sale and I've made a few. One tip I saw was to make them and just wait to order until a sale is active. I definitely don't have my act together, but I do feel some comfort knowing that if there were a fire, I wouldn't lose *all* my photos. I do need to digitize some from my older kids early years and our wedding as we didn't have a digital camera then. I did sometimes get a CD when I developed film, but I need to digitize the rest and definitely need to order more books!

  9. I love reading all of these great suggestions, as I am in the midst of this grueling task too. One thing I am planning on doing is getting family "yearbooks" made and order a couple extra copies so that each of my boys will have a set of their own when they flee the nest. Sniff sniff.

  10. One way I've been successful in turning my digital photos into printed photobooks is turn them into a gift! Every year or so, we take a big family trip together with all of my in-laws and I always make a really nice photobook (Shutterfly or Mixbook) of the trip for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I then order an extra one for myself.

    This works well because it gives me a definite deadline instead of a "someday" project, I give a thoughtful gift to my mother-in-law who is notoriously hard to shop for, and it is something that my family and I actually use and flip through.

    The years where we don't do a trip, I will pick a theme. Like, we used to go to Mardi Gras balls together every year so I did an album of all of those into one. One year, I did an album of her grandkids. Etc, etc.

    She told me she looks forward to them every year and I've even made her cry (good tears) because she loved them so much! And, as I said, I just order an extra one for me!

  11. Can't wait to see your finished solution! I have an entire cabinet with disorganized boxes of photos....keep thinking I am going to get to it someday.

  12. 1. Get them off your phone! That is really important, in case it gets stolen or you loose it.
    2. Have a photo day once a month - sit down together, and only keep the ones that are necessary (you know that shot of the lake with trees/yachts in a harbour> Are you in them? if not, delete!!
    3. Divide into years, and set them once printed in boxes for the years. Now you can take your time to do a book at a time - which you can do on your photo days once the sorting is done. Whatever you decide, - Good luck, you can do it!!

  13. We have Amazon prime which gives you unlimited free photo storage. I downloaded the app on my phone and it will back up everything on there (I have a reminder on my phone to open the app once a month because as far as I can tell it will only back them up if you open the app) and then you have access to all your photos on any computer (just log into Amazon and a few clicks and boom--there they all are)!

    Also, I use Mixbook to make a family photo album for every year. I try to keep current (finish the previous year by Feb or March) and then catch up on old years in between (I have many more to go!). It's a labor of love, to be sure. I was an old Creative Memories scrapbooker and this is much, much easier than getting all those old supplies out every time you want to work for an hour. Still, it's more time consuming than using a 'drop-in all your photos' site like Shutterfly but I like the ability to design my pages any way I want (and add journaling too).

    Watching the kids pour through old albums and reminisce/laugh/ask questions is PRICELESS and with every year that goes by and memories fade, the value compounds.

    Best wishes on the journey!!

  14. I went through my prints and sorted them by era(elementary, middle, high) or event. Then I used boxes like these to store them. You can buy them online or in Joann's, Michaels, etc. I have scanned some of them for various occasions but want to eventually use a scanning service to put them on disc for a backup. The photos that were ones I thought my brother would especially enjoy I put in his own container and gave them to him. .

  15. OMG did you read my mind? I have the same problem but with 3 kids worth of stuff to worry about as well. I use google photos and I'm using dropbox- or I was till I filled it up. Walgreens is great for digitally getting pictures printed ... and they do sales around the major holidays as low as 9cents a print. Good luck!

  16. Pictures can bring so much joy, so why do they always give me anxiety? I have those boxes of "old" pictures too. But, what I started doing the last few years is using Project Life. Now, they have an app and it makes it SO much easier. I just "scrapbook" on my phone and then I can print the pages from the app. I normally will do a couple pages every few weeks...I tend to get caught up when we are on road trips and I have nothing else to do in the car. I put them in a 12x12 binder and it is a 3 ring binder, so you can add other things to it too. They have envelope pages, so I put the kids' special art in there. Their other art gets put on a collage page at the back of the binder. 1 binder per year for the whole family. Done! Check it out...

    1. yes yes a thousand times yes! I am not a scrapbooker but project life has changed my world. and my son loves to go through his books. if you haven't looked into PL, do so before making any decisions!

  17. I would go to Becky Higgins online or on You Tube. She created Project Life (and the Project Life app..yes I create full scrapbook pages on an app on my phone). She has talked about various methods for storing etc of photos since that is a huge deal for her. I have mine on my computer and that is backed up. We use Mac products and all the photos I take on my ipod or iphone automatically land on my Mac and get saved. Dunno if it's the very best way but it's what we do.

  18. You will love this for printing photo books. Be sure to watch the video. They captures the true adventures of a mom.

  19. If you haven't looked into Project Life you should dive in and do some reading research about it! It's ALL meant for documenting photos however you see fit. Digital/physical or a combo of the two. You can do "scrapbook" style layouts all from your phone super quick and easy. You can print photo books or scrapbooks straight from the app. You can journal or not. Add digital "embellishments" or not. There are themed packs that you just drag and drop backgrounds to give the feel of "scrapbook" all in a matter of minutes. A lot of people do the 52 weeks pack that you can do a whole year worth of images pretty quickly. Becky Higgins has TONS of tutorials/podcasts and writings on how to simplify this process and "begin with the end in mind" so that you set yourself up for better documenting over time.

    Good luck...I am anxious to read what you do because I too need to do some major photo organizing!

  20. I use iPhoto on my mac to organize my photos, and then I print the pictures and make scrapbooks. I am a number of years behind in my albums, but I enjoy the process of making the scrapbooks. I have albums for each of my boys (5 and 10) and one for our family events (vacations and holidays, etc.) Not super helpful, but why I really wanted to comment.... My parents had a countless number of boxes filled with pictures from 48+ years of marriage (plus pictures from before they were married as well!) There was no order to any of the boxes or the pictures inside. My dad spent weeks, probably months, this past fall, going through each and every picture and sorting them into binders. He has binders for each of us 4 kids, vacations, Christmases, etc. They are nothing fancy, but the pictures are now in a format that we can sit down and easily look through them. My father suddenly passed away at Christmas, and one of the greatest last gifts he gave us was organizing these family pictures. I am beyond thankful that he did that. I just want to encourage you to find a system that works for you so that your pictures can be accessed and enjoyed by you and your family because that is priceless!!

  21. Love the Meijer photo service. Your sister is right on there. Great quality and super easy to use. I also really like getting the mini-squares and square magnets from the Printstagram (now Social Print Studio) app. They're pretty cheap for a bunch of them. I love the photo magnets because I can use a few on the fridge or chalkboard wall without having lots of larger pictures cluttering up the house. I print the mini-squares and have hundreds in a big bowl in our living room. If they get ruined or whatever it's not a big deal, but it's a fun, easy way to look through them.

  22. Blurb is awesome for photo books. I used to do one for each kid per year but now I just do a book per year for the family. The quality is amazing and they often have coupons. I print 3 at a time: one for us and one for each set of grandparents. The book is stored online so it is easy to print off more copies in the future (like if each kid wants the full set when they grow up and move out). Good luck!

  23. I started doing digital scrapping in 2010 and it has been a GREAT move. I only print pictures now for frames. I actually recently wrote a post about it, when one of my readers asked me to explain how I organize my books:

    For storage, every month I upload the previous month's pictures to an external hard drive. I had a computer die once, and I didn't think I was going to be able to retrieve them. Scared me into regularly backing up my pictures!

  24. A Professional Organizer can help you with this. Find one on the NAPO website. It will be so much easier and a lot more fun doing it with someone to guide you.

  25. I so hope someone gives you a "miraculous" way to get this overwhelming task done! My oldest is in 8th grade, and I'm already stressing about the fact that I only have 4 years to get all this organized so that I can put together a graduation slide show. Yikes! I am definitely going to steal the idea of picture day once a month to organize the phone pics -I really only need one (not 26) photo of the magnificent Lego creation my son made. :)

  26. 1. Every month a little booklet of 100 of my selected phone photos arrives printed and ready to tear and distribute -- Groovebook app!! $3 DELIVERED. It couldn't be cheaper.
    2. I store all our photos online on Dropbox -- an app and also an online site so you can sync everything automatically. It is brilliant.

  27. Dropbox! Every pic I take on my phone automatically uploads- then every month you can just organize into an album- and delete the pics you don't want. Also- Shutterfly for photo books bc they tend to have lots of promo codes.

  28. Call me crazy but I LOVE photo albums! There is just something about picking up an album and flipping through the memories that I love! I keep the albums in my TV stand and switch them out periodically. I do put the pics from my phone (and camera) on an external hard drive. I use Shutterfly to print pics. A little orange box shows up and I put them into albums. Vintage family pics are stored in archival boxes. Pics are so fun! Good luck and congrats on the house purge! (Still working on that here!)


    Andrea is so good at organizing and making photo books. All the steps she uses and all info for free.

  30. For printing, try Free Prints app. 85 free 4x6 each month-you only pay shipping. Since you want to do albums that might be a good choice. Also, yheir enlargement prices are good and the quality is very good.
    If you have an Amazon prime account you get unlimited cloud storage for photos FREE! I'm having the family photos digitized for backup (in case something happens or someone wants copies). And store them there.
    I actually JUST finishined uploading photos to AMA in yesterday. Now I'm going to take an hour a day to go thru and decide if I keep, print, etc and organize them in Amazon. You can even share with "family" members. So they can have access to the picks you make available to them.

  31. Sorry I don't have any advice for you but I am going to bookmark this post and come back and read all the comments. As my Aunt always says "Don't let your kids grow up in JPEG." LOL I have got to get mine under control this year too.

  32. We do an annual photo book with our photos - or at least, we try to. I do feel like I'm constantly playing catch up, but at least that's the intent. I like doing this, because it also automatically backs up the photos into the online system (we use Shutterfly, but I think any would work). They keep the photos pretty much indefinitely, so if I use them for other products, they are there. And most have apps that will automatically back up your phone photos there. And I automatically have my phone photos backed up to Dropbox, too.

    Henry loves looking through all the photos, and I like that there's only a book a year to store. I feel like doing them more often can make it harder to corral and easier to get way behind. I don't print individual photos at all anymore (unless there's a frame to fill or something).

    When I make the book, it forces me to clean out all my digital files for the year on my phone and computer. I actually physically move the files off my laptop to clean out space and then upload to Shutterfly and Dropbox. Then, I have it in two places. That may be a little overkill, but then I can always find the photos. I just store them by year and month.

    I love your boxes for artwork! I have a cheap expandable file but it's not a great solution because I'm too lazy to get it out and use it, so I just end up throwing all the paperwork "around" the file. ;)

    Good luck with your project! We did this with all my old photos a few years ago, and it was so much work, but also so worth it. (We actually ended up scanning all the old photos on a small photo scanner and it was such a huge project, but so nice to have them all backed up. We just made a fun week out of it - my family sat around and made a little assembly line.

  33. I make a photo book for each calendar year. It's always a chore because I usually wait till January to gather everything and put the book together - one of these years, I'll do it as we go - but it's so worth it to have it, and then I don't have to worry about losing any pictures. I totally agree with you, I love to have something physical to hold and look at rather than just having photos stored on the computer/online (that frankly we rarely look at). The photo book is perfect!

  34. For our childhoods and pre-each other photos my husband and I set a limit of one large photo album each. It was a hard task. But let's be honest, our kids aren't going to want and/or keep half a dozen albums or boxes of photos of mom and dad as kids.

    For our family photos and life together, we've found that time helps. It's easier to look back at photos from four years and see them with a more critical eye.

    Also, I'm big about culling my photos on my phone before I transfer them to my computer. I don't need 10 shots of my toddler. I just need the one where I actually got her to smile.

  35. I want to add my thoughts on the photo issues, but I'm so perplexed as to why all of the sudden I can't see any of the pictures on your site? I'm using Google Chrome and I think the ads have made it go crazy. I've tried to refresh but all the pictures are big blank boxes with an x. It also won't show up in feedly (my blog reader). Maybe it's me, but nothing on my computer has changed since the last time I tried to access your site. :(

  36. two words: Project Life

    Watch Becky's video on how it's done

    print your pages through the app and put them in an album, or print photo books right from the app, super easy! Good luck!

  37. Each of my kids, except my youngest, has a photo album of just them until they are 18 months. I need to get on that project for my baby who is 4 1/2. Ha! My husband and I both have samsung phones, and they automatically back up to Google Photos. That way if my phone gets lost/stolen/destroyed, my photos can be accessed elsewhere. We also have them back up to our personal WD Mycloud hard drive. Because last year our old hard drive failed and we lost a lot of digital pictures. :( :( So, back up digital pictures to at least two places in case one fails. And since we didn't print any of those pictures off from the last couple of years, we lost quite a few recent ones. So that is one area that I struggle with - but I do the family year books, so I don't feel a need to have multiple hard copies floating around. I have used my publisher in the past, but am switching to shutterfly since it is a web based program and can be accessed on any computer.

    I would suggest albums instead of boxes. It does take more initial time and effort, but for the long term, pictures will be easier to look at, and probably last longer without multiple hands touching them over and over. Good luck!


  38. I used a company called Scan Digital to get all of my dad's slides transferred to digital form. They do color correction, erase any dust, scratches, etc. They did a great job. The only down side that is nerve wracking is that you have to send your photos, slides, etc. to the company. I was worried that they could get lost in the mail or the company might misplace them or something, but nope, everything was safe and returned in good condition. My phone automatically saves photos to Google photos. There they are organized by date. I have not actually printed any out yet though. Those are just the suggestions for what I have done digitally. Good luck.

  39. I've used FreePrints (they have an app) for printing pictures off my phone or Shutterfly for making albums of special events in my life or the lives of people close to me. I've found both to be excellent resources, though FreePrints does offer a number of free prints per month. Good luck!

  40. Organizing prints - the easy way:
    1. Send them to Scan Cafe to have them scanned.
    2. Upload them to Prime Photos. You can store them for FREE with a Prime membership and they have facial recognition and a crazy cool search feature (so you can easily find a picture of your daughter with a toy by searching for "toy" and sorting by person.. it's crazy cool).

    The more involved way (the say I do it):
    1. Send to Scan Cafe
    2. Organize each photo in folders by year and then by event. Name photos in this convention: YYYY_MM_DD Name of Event so that they're organized chronologically (I don't always do the date because sometimes you don't know).
    3. I use Picassa for facial recognition but that's going away (sad!).
    4. Upload all the photos to Google Drive for back up

    Organizing Digital photos - the easy way:
    1. Get the Prime Photos app and have your photos sync to Prime.
    2. Put the Prime Photos app on your husband's phone and sync his photos to the family vault.
    3. Once a quarter, gather photos from other various places: your email, photos you're tagged in on Facebook, online albums people created for events you attended, etc. and upload to Prime photos

    Organizing Digital photos - the more involved way (the way I do it):
    1. Once a quarter, gather all the photos from the previous three months.
    2. Organize photos in folders by year and then by event. Name photos in this convention: YYYY_MM_DD Name of Event so that they're organized chronologically
    3. Run them through Picassa for facial recognition and tagging
    4. Upload to Google Drive for back up
    5. Make a yearbook once a year

    I have a scrap from a magazine for "ARTKIVE" ... a professional organizer recommended it for archiving your kid's art and I saved it for when my baby girl is a little older :)

  41. I'm a photographer and prints are my life! I store prints I want to see fairly regularly in a labled photo box that is in a closet. For scrapbook ingredients my important pictures, I now make photo books through picaboo! So easy and we look through those all the time! I also have an external hard drive and use dropbox for an online "hard drive"!

  42. I still struggle with getting photos out so the kids can see pictures of themselves and the things we have done.
    I use Shutterfly for my printing and photo storage. Regardless of which service you pick though, check the terms for how much storage you get for the price (Shutterfly is free) but also how long they will hold the photos and if you can download them if something does happen to the original. There is also an auto uploader so anytime I plug my actual camera into the computer, it automatically uploads the photos.
    I also use Shutterfly for printing books. Make them when you have the time then wait for a sale (40% and 50% off books happens fairly regularly).
    Once I have books, I store the original photos in acid free boxes. I currently use an external drive to backup my photos but I do want to switch to a cloud service so my photos are backed up somewhere else.

  43. I use the MyPublisher site for current photos. It can generate books for you or you can map them out. They have specials all the time so you can actually build your whole book and then sit on it until they are half off. Can't take credit for this idea I stole it from John and Sherry at Young house love. I make a yearbook every year for my business.

    1. FYI, I got an email last week that My Publisher is closing up shop :(. They merged with Shutterfly so are referring all future business there.

  44. This is a very timely post! Apparently many others struggle with the mountains of either printed or digital photos. I wish there was an easier way to go through them on the computer. My eyes go blind are scrolling photo after photo. Instead of choosing one good photo, I end up with 20. Here's what I really want to know and need advice - does anyone know of a good blog printing service that will print blogs as they are shown in the posts??? We have a family blog that I've tried (albeit poorly) to update with family photos and events. I've tried researching different blog printing services and none of them seem to do what I want (like I've seen some print photos out of sequence to the post). Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do this? I'd greatly appreciate any information! :-)

    1. I used Blog2Print to print my blog book. It worked pretty well. Some limitations: although on the blog my photos all appeared to be the same size, they really weren't (an issue with resizing inside of WordPress I think) so the photos printed in different sizes (but the Blog2Print preview will show you what it will look like) and comments on my blog didn't appear in the book (but I knew they weren't going to) something to do with a self-hosted blog, I believe. All in all, though, I'm happy with the book. The paper is very nice and it all looks great. Sign up to receive the emails and they frequently send discount coupon codes.

  45. This is one area in which I have been very organized! I have found the best way to organize is years and months or if you need to go more broad do years and seasons. Start with current time and work your way back (otherwise it's too overwhelming) Here's my system:

    1. Under my pictures on my computer I create folders with the year. Inside that folder, I create 12 more folders (one for each month).
    2. I use my phone and my DSLR camera to capture our moments. At the end of each month, I upload all phone and camera photos to that month's folder (set a reminder on your phone).
    3. Back up on an external hard drive.
    4. Upload folder to Shutterfly. *I also created month folders on Shutterfly, then I upload there and I'm finished til next month.
    5. At the end of the year, I create a Family Yearbook on Shutterfly, organized by month. I do one 12x12 hardcover book. The title is the year, I select a simple format, add the months and dump my pics on the pages. It usually ends up being around 75 pages and costs $150. But I spend way less $ and save time by not printing out and picking up a bunch of prints.
    6. Finally, I copy the entire year's folder onto a flash drive and drop it in the back pocket (that you can get as an add-on to your Shutterfly book), so if I ever need one pic from that book, I can go print it quickly.
    This system takes me about 30 minutes per month. And creating the family yearbook is a one day, snow day project in January each year!

    Good Luck!

  46. Create yearly photo albums with (I like them better than Shutterfly) There are always %50 off coupons to use when printing. Now is a great time to start! Every month I go through the pictures of that month and put them in the book. In January each year I get to print it! Our whole family anticipates its arrival!

  47. In order to keep my digital photos organized, I had to create a system. The first Sunday of each month,I download all of the pictures from my phone and my husband'S to my computer and then I save them also to an external hard-drive that I keep in our fire-proof box. I figure that if our house ever burned down, I can replace anything but photos. Then, every year in that lazy week after Christmas, I put my favorite pictures from the year onto a SanDisk that goes in our digital frame that I keep in the kitchen. Our whole family LOVES the digital frame. It it so fun seeing old pictures come up. I only print what I am going to frame now. I also do a family photo album on Blurb, but I am only up to 2011.

  48. Here is what I did: Go through all pics, and only keep those you like (where everyone looks good), those which remind you of fond memories, of people you still like etc. Only keep one copy of each picture in case there are several that are similar. sort according to years - here is my full blogpost on this: also I keep a folder on my desktop where I store pictures of the current year according to month. at the end of the year i make one small photo book of the best of this year.

  49. I make photo books through PrestoPhoto. I do one for each of our holidays and will eventually get rid of all my albums and convert them to photo books - they can be seen here:
    I don't use their book generator - I just make each page in photoshop elements and upload it as a jpg. The books are beautiful and if something happens to the hard copy you can reorder them! I also back up all my photos to an external hard drive as I don't ever want to lose them through technology failure.

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  51. Good morning! I am very glad that I found your blog! In my opinion you write great!If you are looking for inspiration and new ideas, I invite you to my favorite website

  52. I guess it really does depend on both the design and quality. We bought local for a couple of reasons. One was because of the quality and the other was because it was made in the USA. We have a couch, not a sectional and we still spent around $2000 which of course isn't cheap. You can tell it is an awesome quality compared to when I've looked at others. Our last couch did what yours did and those back cushions drove me nuts as well. Our particular couch was a lesser quality. (I'm definitely not saying that yours is.) Our newer couch has the attached cushions and I was kind of concerned about that cuz I know somebody else's whose ripped but then their son is just really hard on stuff and it's mainly just my husband and I. I'm very happy with our purchase so far 2.5 years in.

  53. I take soooooo many photos but I rarely print any. I keep them on an external hard drive and print only the ones I really love and want to frame. otherwise, I make each of my kids a book on Shutterfly, each year. My books go from birthday to birthday rather than for a specific year (i.e. 2016) so it is a book for their entire year of that age. The books end up being really large...over 100 pages but this is the place where I put the best pictures from the year, organize into stuff they did, etc. I store them on shelves in their bedrooms and they look really cute AND they can pull them down and see them any time they want.

  54. My dad went into a nursing home just over a year ago. Mom was/is very diligent with putting photos into albums. She rotated albums for dad to look at. Dad had dementia and the present was hard for him to connect to. Often, when I ran out of conversation while visiting him, I would pull out an album. The memories that returned for him, he started to feel connected with something again. I'm guessing most of your readers are not in this position, but organizing photos into books or albums will be a godsend in years to come.

  55. Just saw that several mentioned they store photos on careful. CDs aren't meant to last forever. You may find that after as little as a few years the CD is corrupt. Just don't do it. Get an external hard drive instead. You can even back uo your external hard drive to another & then hand it off to a relative in case you ever have a fire.

  56. Can't wait to hear how you do this--I've read every single comment and I'm totally overwhelmed! My kids are 17 and 14 and I stayed on top of the photo album-thing until the youngest was about 7. I'm doing whatever you're doing--so make it good! ;-)

  57. Go to Becky Higgins' YouTube page and watch her recent videos on this very subject! Why reinvent the wheel?

  58. I answered all of your questions in a blog post (ages ago) - here it is, hope it helps!

  59. I make a photo book every year. Some years I have to do multiple volumes (like the year my daughter was born). I love You can download a program or use their website. But I like the program better because you can customize your layouts. Now you don't get a fun background pages like some other site but for me i don't mind I want the focus on the photos like a classic album. They take up less room than a traditional photo album which is really nice. I highly suggest it!

  60. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can store unlimited photos through Prime Photos. I am currently uploading 13 years worth of pictures so that I will have an online backup! I then plan to make a yearly photo book. One step at a time, though!


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