How I Organize and Keep Up With Photos

Keeping all your photos organized is hard, especially if you take as many as I do. I had a few people ask me for my tips and secrets, and I realized I’d never shared a post on the topic. 

My pictures mean the world to me, and are something I am extremely attached to. I sometimes overindulge in them, and have accumulate an excessive amount, but I have never regretted that.

What I regret is either a missed opportunity or not saving them afterward. Technology is a double-edged sword. It ‘s amazing what we can do with it now, but if you don’t know what to do with it or where to store it, or even better, where to display it, it’s going to bite you in the butt.

Here’s my current process for cataloging, and accessing my large collection of photos, and hopefully my response answers the questions posed!

How I Organize and Keep Up With Photos

External Physical Backups

If you’re even the slightest bit tech-savvy, you know that it’s never a good idea to let your computer handle your photos for you. Before long, your personal computer will fail, and you will lose your pictures.

It truly is a crappy situation, however, once you ve been through that fiasco you ll forever have a solid backup plan. Our two primary methods for backing up photos physically are:

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A NAS, or Network Attached Storage is a file-level computer data storage server connected to a network. 

Basically, it’s like attaching an external hard drive to our network, which makes it easy to connect via any of our devices or the web and to create automatic backups.

It’s very stable, safe, and keeps everything in one place. The pair of our computers that are on our network are backed up on a Synology 4 Bay NAS. The unit has an officially declared capacity of 4 GB, so we do not have to worry about running out of space anytime soon.

External hard drives 

External hard drives are the easiest, and simplest (and cheapest) way to backup your photos from a device if a NAS drive is way over your head. 

They are helpful in that you can store your photos on them instead of your computer. They can be plugged into a new device, and easily transported. This external hard drive has a massive 4 TB of storage.

Cloud Storage

Ideally, all of your photos are backed up physically as well as in the cloud. Cloud-based storage is also very secure, stable, and easy to use. Cloud storage only means that it’s not physically present; it’s living in the cloud, on a server.

Once your pictures have been uploaded, you can retrieve them whenever you want. Sites like Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Photos, Amazon Prime Photos, Flickr, iCloud, SmugMug, Shutterfly, OneDrive, are all considered cloud storage. These are my favourites:

  • Google Photos – Backup for Phone – I use the Google Photos app the most, and so it is set to automatically back up my photos. I rarely do any other task with Google Photos apart from just backing up my phone photos for peace of mind. Google Photos is very easy to learn and are even fun to use. They create gifs, collages, movies, and yearly flashback movies, like TimeHop. (Free)
  • Shutterfly – Backup for Favorites Both High Res + Phone – Shutterfly is what I use the most truly together with Google Photos. Maybe even greater, since it s the place I prefer to create all my photo books and remain the most organized. I use the cloud model of Shutterfly to backup images from my computer and the app variation of Shutterfly to back up my favorite smartphone photos.

While I may use a different album-management service, I have a special relation to Shutterfly myself and the fact that it is the site that stores and keeps what should be the most important and treasured everyday images of my life appeals to me. (Free)

  • Amazon Prime Photos – Additional/Occasional Backup for Favorites – I utilize the Prime Photos app as well as the online version, but not as regularly as Google Photos. (You’ll really appreciate this choice once Google Photos is now available to everyone.) This one sometimes gets neglected and I tend to forget about putting it on, but I enjoy the big picture aspect of it, since it’s like one giant single timeline. (Free +  paid additional storage space)
  • SmugMug – Backup for Important Professional Photos – This is a professional photo storage website that I personally pay for to continue to store my clients’ old images. Or there is also an amateur version. With SmugMug, you can order prints, make password-protected photo albums, etc.

It’s very versatile, but expensive. I truly can’t remember the last time I backed up a SmugMug session on account of my reliance on Google Drive. But, I have such a large number of old client photos stored up in here I use it. (Paid)

  • Google Drive – Backup by Default – It is independent from Google Photos and is not created for storing photos. But I do use Google Drive to back up photos when I email or send them to clients or myself independently. (Free)
  • iCloud – Backup by Default – I dislike this the most, and I absolutely never, ever complete it. I will not use Mac s iPhoto program and will not even have to look at it. I guess I only have Apple’s iCloud as a result of being an iPhone user, but I don’t count it as a backup method. (Free + Paid fee to possess more storage space)

Photo Books + Prints

Folders are life

For my photo albums, I use Shutterfly. It’s on the site where I store the greatest number of photos that I love the most. They are arranged by month in folders, and then I like to browse through these folders and transfer the pictures into a book. 

Shutterfly has made many improvements over the years, and I am fond of their interface as it permits you to view your photos by album or chronologically. Everything is automatically dated for you as soon as you upload, and you can utilize that option if you prefer to later download. (You weren’t always able to in Shutterfly!)

So my albums are labeled by matter, such as “Month 1, Month 2,” and so on. I also have albums for specific photos and have the name of what they are and a date if required. I Try to keep everything either in a month form or specific event. Basically I keep everything in a folder and name it clearly.

Make a plan, pre-start books

I believe making a picture book is kind of like going for a run. Starting it is the most difficult part! To make things a little easier, if I know for certain that I am going to want to create a picture book of XYZ, I will head into My Projects and go ahead and START ONE.

Allocate yourself to that first step before fastidiously captioning and organizing all your photos so as that you have enough time to start putting them into books. I do this with my own folders too and have already organized books for newborns that I am aware that I will want to put away once he is born.

Stay realistic

I know that I am a compulsive photographer, so I am forever bombarded with quantity of photos that I must make through when producing a book. That way, I try to keep the length of my books realistic. 

I reckon I could have never put my baby’s first year of life into ONE folder, so I divided it into 4 books, three months a piece. I had planned to complete one book ahead of the subsequent three months so I didn’t seem too rear.

Be Picky

Regardless of whether you’re making use of Shutterfly or another service, you have to learn that lead to be picky. It takes time to back up ALL pictures safely, but it requires additional consideration to organize your favorite pictures for print.

As I upload photographs to Shutterfly either from my cell phone or any sort of album, I do my very best to be extra selective and remember I don’t need every photo I’ve ever taken. This is why I like using Shutterfly as my favorites library only but not also as a full back-up. I do not want my photos to become lost or scattered because I do not want everything to get to be too hard for me to organize.

Computer Organization

I still have some build folders on my computer desktop, but I’m trying to manage them to the best of my ability. After all, I want them to be informative and easy to understand. I categorize them by year to help me remember which I’ve backed up on an external drive.

I make an effort to keep just JPEGs on my desktop, so my computer’s hard drive stays open. Don’t store photos on your desktop if you’re not going to need them frequently.

Final Thoughts

  • Which backup plan do you choose for yourself? Choose one physical and one cloud-based.
  • Set it so that your phone backs up your photos every Sunday. (For example, I move the most recent photos that I’ve shot on my phone to the proper folders on Flickr and verify my cell phone backs up recent photos I’ve taken on it)
  • Pre-start your photo books and make them realistic.
  • Create and clearly label a folder to hold everything. I organize my files on a monthly basis.
  • Be picky, but only in one place. Have one place where you keep everything narrowed down and selective. Everywhere else can be a full backup for peace of mind.
  • Don’t neglect it or else you will fall behind and not make your books.

Leave a Comment