If I were picking the top five areas of organization that just absolutely overwhelm people, digital photos would definitely be up there! Photos have just changed SO much over the last decade or two. I grew up when you took photos on film, LOL– and here we are now taking 50 digital photos of the same scene every time we whip out our phones!
Don't most of us have literally thousands of photos you don't know what to do with?!? If this is you, then today's post is for you! Click here to watch the video, or read on to hear my top three tips on how to organize those digital photos!
1. Delete, delete, delete!
This first tip is an absolute game changer. If you take only one thing away, let it be this. You MUST regularly go through and delete photos you don't need. It is totally normal for us to take 20 shots of almost the same thing. We're looking for that absolute perfect picture, and the more photos we take, the more chances we have that everyone's eyes are open and looking at the camera!
It's totally okay to take multiples, but you need to regularly go through and delete the ones with closed eyes, or you just don't like something. You only need one or two different shots of your kids' first day of school!
I don't really schedule time to do this. I more often do this in the margins of my day. Maybe I delete a few in line at the grocery store, while in the carpool line to pick up my kids, at the doctor's office, or even while watching TV at night. If you keep up with it, it really never becomes a big chore. Ideally you'd delete daily, but even weekly is better than nothing. Just don't let it build up until it becomes an insurmountable task!
Deleting photos is also the one thing that makes everything else easier. You don't have to organize deleted photos. If you want to make an album or calendar, or if you want to refresh the photos on the walls in your home, you only have to go through the photos that you actually liked well enough to keep! It will make all these tasks SO much easier! It's also nice when my phone pulls up “memories,” that I only see photos that are actually decent!
One good photo is better than 50 mediocre ones. I've also noticed that my daily deleting habit has made me much more judicious in what photos I do take.and how many of the same shot I snap! If it's a really important life event, then by all means, click away! But if it's just a random thing, 3-4 (instead of 20!) will usually suffice for me now.
Also, I find myself with tons of random pics I take while shopping or screenshots I don't need…those can all go! You don't want to have to wade through those later when you're actually looking for something!
How do I actually do this?? Usually I'm just swiping through my phone from picture to picture. If I have ten nearly identical, then I'll flip between two, choose the best, and then compare that one to the next photo. I do this until I have 1-2 great photos, and that's all I need from that one moment!
2. Start with the current time and move forward.
You may be super motivated to start deleting your photos (and I hope you are!!). But the best advice I can give you is to NOT go back into your backlog right away. It's so easy to get overwhelmed because often this really is a huge task.
It's best to start your new habit today and start deleting the photos from TODAY that you don't need. Then keep doing that consistently for the next 2-3 months. Once you establish that habit, you'll be much better prepared to tackle that backlog!
If you start with old photos, sometimes it's tempting to start a tagging or album division system, but you may just realize that organizing by date (without any extra work!) is perfectly fine. If you start from today, you'll figure out what you want to do, and the task won't seem so difficult because you've already been doing it for a couple months.
And…you may never tackle that backlog. That's okay, too! But I guarantee that “future you” will be so happy you started today. It will make gathering photos for that family photo calendar gift SO much easier come next Christmas!!
If you do decide to go back, I'd recommend working backwards. So, for this year, maybe you go by month working back to last year. Then you might go through that whole year all together and then the year before, etc.
3. Favorite your favorites!
As you're working, be sure to flag your favorites! What might you want to hang on a wall? Or do you definitely want to print this for your desk at work? Is this one a sure bet for the family yearbook or yearly calendar? If you know you have a winning photo in front of you, be sure to flag it somehow so you can easily have the best of the best in one place when you need them.
Don't overthink this part. If it grabs you, then mark it. Make a quick decision, but realize that you'll still have the photo if you need to go back and find it. Not everything can be a favorite!
Hopefully this helps you get started! If you really want to take a deep dive into photo organization or other digital organization, then go check out my Organize your Digital Life Course! I promise you'll find so many new ways to streamline everything digital!