With the kids back to school, you may have some time now to go through your summer holiday pictures. As you go down memory lane, you tell yourself that it would be nice to put some of these pictures into a photo album. But then you remember the backlog of pictures you haven’t dealt with in months or even years and you get paralysed. Well I can’t blame you! Organising pictures can take time and is intimidating for most people. But the thing is the longer you postpone this activity, the harder it becomes.
So how to stay on top of your photographs? Well by establishing a process to deal with the latest pictures you have taken before tackling your backlog. And here is the process that I have developed over the years.
Once a month – Sort the pictures:
- I create a folder for the past month on my computer. I use a YYYYMM format e.g. 201509 for September 2015 so that my folders are sorted chronologically.
- I download pictures from our various devices (camera, smartphones, tablet etc.) into this folder. If need be, I sort them further by occasion e.g. holidays in France, soccer camp, school graduation ceremony etc.
- I get rid of the pictures that are not worth keeping – the ones that are blurred, out of focus, unflattering etc. – and eliminate some of the multiples.
- I create another folder where I copy the best pictures of the month that will likely make it into the yearly photo album I put together (this is my “best off”). I used to do this step annually but I realised that it was easier for me to do a first rough cut on a monthly basis.
- I take this opportunity to share some pictures with our family and friends. Family, in particular grand-parents, are always delighted to receive photos on a regular basis as it makes them feel involved with what’s happening in our lives especially as we live far away from them.
- I finish by backing up my newly created monthly folder onto an external drive.
The above 6 steps take me less than one hour per month.
Once a year – Create a photo album:
- I go through the pictures I have previously pre-selected (my “best off”) and I purge some more to retain only the number of photographs that will fit into my photo album. I have used the same type of photo albums for the last 10 years as I found using a standard format to be more pleasing to the eye on a bookshelf.
- I get the photos printed and assemble the photo album.
- I back up my “best off” onto Google drive.
Creating the photo album takes me about 4 hours as I add a fair bit of comments on the photos and I decorate it with items bought at scrapbook shops.
I started creating yearly photo albums shortly after my son was born. At first, it was time consuming and to be honest quite of a chore. But the look on my son’s face when he was discovering his photo albums kept me motivated. Over the years, I established and fine-tuned this process to gain in efficiency. Creating this yearly photo album is something that I now look forward to. We love going through these photo albums once in a while as a family or when we have visitors. My son keeps saying that he will take these albums with him when he leaves home. Although it will be difficult for me to part with them, I know it won’t be too difficult to re-create them if I want to as the digital photos that made it into the photo albums are already sorted.
I need to add though that as for any process, it is important that you adapt it to your personal circumstances so that it really works for you. You need to decide what you want to do with your photos: create a photo album, a digital photobook, or a scrapbook for only a few key events, or just store them in a digital form. You may want to increase the sorting frequency to once a week or twice a month if you take a lot of pictures. You may want to put the photos into a photo album every month or every 3 months etc. Whatever you decide to do, there are two success factors to help you achieve your goals:
- Break down the activity of organising photos into manageable tasks. As far as I am concerned, organising photos for more than one hour at a time would be a lot to ask!
- Block the time in your diary for this activity otherwise I can guarantee you it won’t happen. For me, the sorting is on the first Saturday morning of each month and the album creation during the month before my son’s birthday.
In another blog post, I will describe how to deal with your backlog of photos, so stay tuned! In the meantime, any comments on this approach would be highly appreciated, especially if you have any suggestions to make it more efficient!