Picture Organization in 10 Steps

Does anyone else get SO stressed out when they think of how many pictures they have? Same. My mind races through worst case scenarios – floods or fires for physical copies, technology crashing for digital copies. Up until a few years ago, I actually used Facebook as my digital copy storage space…I know, I’m not joking though. Until I started imagining Facebook crashing, having it be my only digital photo album didn’t bother me. Now it bothers me. Now, many things bother me.

So I did a bit of researching, per usual. Made a couple of spreadsheets, made a paper version of those spreadsheets, read too many articles, and came up with a system that puts me…closer…at peace. Listen, if something happens to my photos after this system, I wasn’t meant to have the photos.

I wish I was wealthy enough to pay someone to manage my picture memories, but until that happens, here is my method of “not losing it” (my brain or the pictures).

Note: This method is done with a MacBook – up to you on translating it to other computers 🙂

Step 1. Compile a list of all the places your pictures are stored. (Facebook, Instagram, Phone, Hard drives, Computer, Physical loose copies, Physical album copies, etc.)

Step 2. Make digital copies of all pictures that aren’t already digital. There are apps for this or you can get great lighting & take pictures with your iPhone. Takes a long time, but easy.

Step 3. Put all digital copies in Photos app on MacBook (I’ve found that doing this on the computer is so much easier than on the phone)

Step 4. Organize these pictures into albums on Photos app. This can be by year, by subject matter, by country…whatever you prefer.

Step 5. Give titles to different pictures on Photos app. For example, I might go through and title every picture of Koko, “Koko”. Then, when I’m searching for pictures of Koko, I just type “Koko” in the Search bar, and there she is! This is a great extra step if you have lots of albums that share similar pictures. For example, Koko might be in my Korea album, but she’s also in my Austin album.

Step 6. Back up digital copies on a hard drive. I use this hard drive, but there are less expensive options out there. Put the hard drive with the documents you’ll grab in case of an emergency (Step 6.1, put together a folder of documents you need to grab quickly in case of an emergency – social security cards, birth certificates, passports, etc).

Now you have two digital copies – One in Photos on your computer, and one on your hard drive. If you turn on your iCloud account, it will automatically upload your photos there too, giving you a digital copy without thinking about it! Disclaimer – I know next to nothing about iCloud, so if you do, please comment below with your recommendations!

Step 7. Some articles suggested backing up the copies once more on a second hard drive. I used a smaller USB drive for this, similar to this one, but not as fancy. My opinion on this step is that you might as well do it since you’re already backing stuff up, but it’s a step that can wait if you’ve already spent too much money on the first steps! Put this USB in that document folder mentioned above, or you can store it in a separate place such as a safe, a safety deposit box, a parent’s house, etc.

Step 8. I’m not sure that this actually does anything, but I made a folder on my computer for wedding pictures. Just in case Photos, my iCloud, and my hard drive disappear, I will have a folder full of pictures on my computer! Unless my computer disappears too..

Now you have four digital copies – Photos/iCloud, two hard drives, and a computer folder.

Step 9. If you originally had hard copies, as I did, you can purchase a photo organizer like this one. I love using this organizer because the different colors make it so pretty, and the smaller cases help sub-divide pictures in a manner that is easy to organize and remember. While I use this organizer for the hard copies I had already, I didn’t print out my other photos that are digital – Would you recommend printing out all of the digital copies to have hard copies of everything?

Step 10. While preparing for the worst, don’t tuck all the pictures away! Find a way to showcase your photos so you remember why you take so many to begin with.  You could do this with picture frames on your fireplace mantle, canvases on the walls, an absurd amount of photo books {I love Artifact Uprising ($$$) and Chatbooks ($-$$)}, or using Home Depot to your advantage (see picture above)!


I need your help! So many of my photos are still on Facebook. Now that I have a storage system outside of that, should I delete the pictures on Facebook? I go between wanting to take everything off of Facebook except for recent pictures, and wanting to keep everything on there for memories’ sake. What do you think?

How do you organize, showcase, and safeguard your photos? I would love to know!

Purchasing from some of the above links could lead to me receiving a small payment. Thanks!

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