September ends today, and so does Save Your Photos month. Have you figured out where to start organizing your photos? I don’t want you to struggle, so I’m offering 17% off my Save Your Photos with SORT and Succeed online course. The 17% off celebrates 17 years in business, helping people like you find more peace in your life. Click here to see the lessons for this course to start creating your photo albums in no time. Click now, before the discount is gone.
Here’s Where to Start Organizing Your Photos
Angela, one of my employees, has been staying late most days to digitize her own photo collection. It’s a perk of working here. She uses the professional quality scanners, all the fancy software, and the organized workflows that we have for managing print-to-digital collections. Her large Irish family, here in the US and around the world, will soon see old photos and videos that have been trapped in her parents’ closets for decades. Even better, they’ll be able to purchase their own copies of a few photos with a few clicks. They’ll also be able to download the entire collection and add it to their own, if they want to. This is a labor of love for Angela. Her sisters, cousins, aunts, and uncles are going to be impressed.
Does it surprise you that Angela started this project last year? Sure, she’s a photo organizing professional, but these things take time. Here’s the high-level project process:
Gather Your Photos
She went to her parents’ house and rescued the old photos and movies from their closets. She had to do it herself. Her dad was happy to hand them over, but he needed some prodding. She started this a year ago.
Protect/Backup Your Photos
Angela invested in our archival photo storage boxes to get rid of the mess of shoeboxes her parents used. She bought two of them, one for her mom’s side of the family, and one for her dad’s side.
Organize Your Photos
Our archival photo storage boxes make it easy to organize old photos by years. Each box contains 10 internal sections and a pack of white divider cards for even more organization. We use these to separate milestone vacations or weddings within a year. Angela is scanning each group of old print photos. Then she renames them in batches. Then she corrects the digital dates so they sort correctly in her digital storage system. That last step is super important, because scanning creates a new copy with today’s date, which is not what you want. By correcting the metadata, we digitally batch those photos from a past year, say 1949, into the year 1949 so that whatever photo system you use in the future will see it in 1949 and not in today’s date. She’s only working on this project about two hours a week because, you know, life happens. When you are talking about thousands of photos, organizing and digitizing can take a few weeks or even more.
Share Your Photos
Angela is using SmugMug to share thousands of organized photos with relatives all over the world. We like this service because we can create private user sites (you can think of it as a private website) that is truly private to your family. Your family can access and download organized photos and videos. They can even comment on photos so other family members have the stories behind the photos. The reasonable cost is worth the privacy, ease of use, ability to customize your family’s photo site, ability to purchase high-quality prints, and all the other features with this service. Setting up the Smugmug account takes minutes but, I won’t lie, to make it look fabulous, it can take weeks. The whole point of showcasing your photos is to make them look great, whatever system you are using, so don’t just throw them up online and think you are done. The site will need a little (or a lot of) design work, and your photos may need some tweaking, too.
Maintain Your Photo Collection
Angela’s collection is a historical set, so once she’s done, she’s done. She’s not connecting her smartphone to it, since her 2nd cousin twice removed doesn’t need to see what she had for lunch today. (But connecting old and new collections is a goal for many people.) Her two archive boxes of prints are about the size of a carry-on suitcase. She’ll store those photo boxes inside the main part of her home. Photos want to live where you live, not in the basement, attic or garage! She’ll have her digital originals on an external hard drive. And she’ll share the Smugmug (cloud-based) site with her children and far-flung family. Sharing is as easy as sending them a web link (aka URL) and inviting them to browse and comment on the cool old photos. With that done, she meets the 3-2-1 backup requirement for safe photo backups.
Can I Pay Someone to Organize My Photos?
Do you know where to start organizing your photos? I just laid out your whole plan above. The devil is in the details. Some steps are easy and DIY-able. Some are not. That’s the whole point of Save Your Photos month: to empower you to do what you can, and to connect you with professionals with the specialized equipment, software, and workflows that get the job done. You can still sign up for free Save Your Photos month classes here.
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that just because they own a computer and a smartphone, they should be able to organize a lifetime of photos. While I don’t want to discourage you from trying, think of it this way…
In the olden days, you could develop your film at home, but why? You’d have to invest in chemicals and specialized equipment to create a darkroom, eating up a part of your home for something you rarely do. Or you could send off the film to someone who already invested in a better darkroom than you could ever create. You’d have photos back in less time than you’d ever be able to manage on your own…probably with MUCH better results.
Today, you could spend the days, weeks and years developing expertise in a tech-based field that evolves literally every day, or you could pay someone to organize your photos. Just get it done so you can enjoy the fun bits…playing with your pictures and sharing them with your loved ones. Check out what some of our photo organizing projects look like.
If you want to hear a bite-sized conversation ( just a half hour) about where to start organizing your photos, click below to meet my wonderful NAPO colleague and podcast host Naeema Ford Goldson, CPO®.
You might still want to know more about why we organize photos this way. I get it. This course shows you how to save money by doing the bits that you can do, then sending the rest to a professional photo organizer like me. Click here to see the Save Your Photos with SORT and Succeed course, and I’ll have you creating your photo albums in no time. See you in class!