Wednesday, March 18, 2009

WFMW - Digital photo organization

So a VERY unorganized area of my life is sadly our family photos. I can remember growing up and my mom having boxes and boxes of printed photos, some in albums and most were not. She used to fuss and complain about not having them organized and she still has yet to complete this lifelong project of getting her photos in order.

I've become my mother.

But, I'm working to stop heredity in it's tracks.

With digital photos you would think that it would be much easier to organize photos. It really can be, though there are many reasons why it's not. Let me count the ways... or at least a number of reasons that, for me, it isn't.

1) I take hundreds upon hundreds of photos. Often of the same event. How many pictures do I need of my daughter splashing in the bathtub on the same night? Apparently 32.

2) Sometimes I will download my photos the same day that I took them, sometimes I don't download them onto my computer for weeks at a time - or until the memory card is full.

3) I have gazillions of folders on my computer that contain said photos. These folders are not organized. They have many different names and dates that don't always tell me what is in that folder.

4) Sometimes if I download photos onto my computer, and I don't delete them off of my camera's memory card, the next time I go to download the next batch of photos the first ones get put onto my computer for a second time... or third.

Okay, that's it for now. I could keep going however, but I have many more points to make in this WFMW post, so I'll stop.

Now another big trouble that I have gotten into using digital photography rather than film is that I never, ever, ever print my photos out. In fact, the last photos I printed were 21 months ago after by Little Miss turned a month old. I printed out her one month photos and started her a nice album... but now it sits screaming for more photos to be added to it's emptiness. How sad is that?

I know that I'm not the only one. It's a sad fact that our family photos are not getting displayed, we're not able to sit down and look at them together - at least not unless we're sitting in front of the laptop. In fact, as I took the weekend to organize and determine the best plan of action for this photo solution I looked back at so many photos, so many moments, so many memories I had in fact forgotten - because I don't have those wonderful family photo albums I so desperately want.

So my solution. Let me spill.

Before baby number two arrives I figured a couple of things.

One. I wanted the past many years organized and easily accessible.

Two. I wanted to get them ready to print, so I can have those albums I desperately want.

And three. Most importantly I wanted to ensure our photos are SAFE. What in the world would I do if something happened that I lost all of those thousands and thousands of pictures? I would cry. It would devastate me for the rest of my life.

So, with the help of an external hard drive I moved all of our photos off of our computer. I then basically made a folder for each and every month of every year I have photos dating back to. And then I started sorting, and sorting, and sorting. This was a tedious and a time consuming task. But to sit and enjoy so many pictures which I haven't seen since I took them, it was so much fun! The many duplicates I had, I carefully deleted. The pointless pictures I no longer needed, I carefully deleted. And I spent much of my weekend at this task.

Fortunately, they are now all in order and ready to be printed. Unfortunately I can not afford to print all of the pictures because there are just too many of them. So my next step will be to determine what I can afford for photos each and every month and watch for good discount codes and ever so slowly print my photos and IMMEDIATELY place them into my family photo albums.

I'm hoping that with the birth of baby number two I will start in the present with one set of albums and hop back to work up from Little Miss's first month at the same time. I think this plan will make it fun to compare what each child was doing at the same age and also what they looked like in comparison to one another.

Oh and another SUPER IMPORTANT tip! I'm also saving all of these photos to CD's as another means of backup. I'm hoping I can get a few months on a CD and keep them in a nice CD folder together, labeled well. And I'm going to send them to live somewhere other than our house - maybe my husband's office desk, or our safety deposit box.

So there you have it, this is working for me at the moment and hopefully will continue to work for years to come. I feel one HUGE area of my disorganized life coming together and it's a relief. Do you have any tips or suggestions on how to keep your photos organized in today's digital world? I'd love to hear them!

More Works For Me Wednesday posts can be tracked at We Are THAT Family.

And for more ideas on photo organization check out Organizing Junkie!


Liz@Hoosier Homemade said...

Wow, great job! I really need to do this!
Thanks for sharing!

The Halbert Home said...

I keep mine organized by month and year too and I label and date all of them. It does make a huge difference in finding them. Another idea for back up is saving them on the web. Webshots is a great site to try. Of course it will take a while to upload but that's another option that's not at your house.

Kim said...

I use to backup my pictures. They are a pay-or-use site, $40/year, but they have unlimited storage. They have a ton of other features too, check them out.

Kim said...

Um, I meant pay-for-use site... stupid wrist brace...

StephanieB said...

We lost a lot of our baby pictures due to a house fire when I was little, which is why I share you "what would happen if we lost these pics??" paranoia :). I go so far as to birn the collection to CD's once every few months and put them in our fire safe :). I think I am going to have to go with you on the external hard drive idea...

Corrie at "Cents"able Momma said...

Great ideas! Mine are mostly organized, but I still have them just sitting on my computer with no time to scrap them!

Laura said...

Wow you are on a roll! Good for you for making such great headway. Such a huge task I know but such a huge payoff when it's all done. Way to go!


mub said...

Another option for displaying your photos would be to invest in a digital picture frame. I got one for my birthday last year and it's really wonderful! It's nice because you can change the pictures anytime you want and it doesn't take up a lot of room =)

Now, I need to bite the bullet and sort my photos *L*