If my house was ever on fire, other than getting my my kids to safety (a given), I’d try to grab my photos and external hard drive, which houses a good amount of my photos. My photographs are by far the most special possession I have and the thing I would be most devastated to lose.
If you’re like me, then you might just be inundated with photos as well. Not actual photos per say, but digital photos. Folder upon folder of photos uploaded to the computer – some edited, others forgotten about, the majority waiting to be printed and put into albums. I get stressed just thinking about how many unprinted photos I have.
The thing is, keeping photos on your computer and doing nothing with them isn’t safe. If your computer crashes or anything happens to it, you can kiss those sweet photographic mementos goodbye.
So, what to do with all your photos? There are simple things you can do to help you organize all those memories and ensure you’re protecting your precious photos.
What to do With all Your Photos
Once I started really taking the time to deal with all my photos, I felt a big wave of relief. I’m still not completely there yet, but I will be soon. I hope these tips on what to do with all your photos help you too.
- Organize Them – Starting with all your digital files, group them in categories. I like to do this by year and then by month. If you don’t take a ton of photos, seasonally also helps (i.e. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter). Then add folders for special occasions, such as weddings, trips or big birthdays. This makes life so much easier when you go to search for particular photos.
- Edit Them – Start by going through one folder at a time. It seems less daunting this way. Edit out all the photos you’d never actually print or don’t care for. With digital cameras, we all take a million photos, yet many of them are really not that great. I know I often tend to forget about this task, but once I start really sifting through the photos, I find it easy to fill up the digital trash bin with photos that are out of focus or ones that are just plain not that great. This will also make the next step much easier.
- Print Them Off – I know, this sounds simple, right? In reality though, so many of us forget the actual printing aspect of photos. I know that I’ve even let a whole year go by before I printed off some photos. It sounds crazy, but life gets busy. And the longer you put something off, the harder it can be to actually get it done. Go through your photos, edit where necessary and then print off all the ones you really like. Once you have physical prints of the pictures, you don’t need to worry about putting every single photo in an album. Organize them by year and month again, adding important dates as you go (i.e. Joe’s 2nd Birthday) and place these in a good storage system. Small plastic photo storage boxes work well and help keep out any moisture. I’ve also used shoeboxes or cardboard photo boxes. Anything goes! Add your favourite photos to albums. Frame all the best ones.
- Back Them Up – This is crucial! I’ve read that you really should have your digital files and photographs in at least three different places, just in case. While I’m still working on that third option, a good starting place is to purchase an external hard drive. I actually really think that having two is a great idea, and you can keep the second one in a different location. Worst case scenario, right? This way, if anything happens to the first hard drive and your computer, you know you still have everything saved on the second one. Once you’re done organizing all your digital photos into folders, add these to your external hard drive. If you also use a third party site, such as Flickr, it’s a great idea to add your photos here as well. Just make sure you set the privacy settings to ‘private’ so that only you can see your personal photos.
- Make Gifts – This is so fun and is the perfect way to use photos. Ever since having children, we often make photo gifts for the grandparents. Calendars, mugs, photo books, homemade scrapbooks. The sky’s the limit here. Family members and friends love and appreciate personalized gifts like this, whether you’re printing off a single photo to frame or creating a whole photo book, there aren’t many people who won’t love a gift like this.
- Make a Book – Adam and I were married for almost 6 years before I finally got around to putting together our wedding album. It was one of those things I just kept putting off. Finally, I decided it had to be done before our sixth wedding anniversary, no matter what! I found an awesome online company that has both an American and a Canadian site. Mixbook was super easy to use and I loved all the different pre-made layouts they have for each occasion. I did the Industrial Chic theme but it took me ages to choose. The album was an awesome way to add all our favourite photos and now I have them in one place. Plus, the book is gorgeous enough to leave out on our coffee table. I’ve put it away for now since baby K likes to tear books apart but it will be back out as soon as she’s learned it’s more fun to look through the books than it is to destroy them:) I plan on using Mixbook to make travel photo books of our trips, which is another task I’ve been putting off for way too long. I also really want to make the kids their own book each, one that they can bring with them after they leave the house, and always have those memories with them. Check out a couple pictures of our beautiful book. I love it so much!
What are your favourite ways to organize or display your photographs?