When I think back to coming home after being away for two months at Summer camp, I have fond memories of going to Blacks to drop off my rolls of film to be developed. It usually took a full week until my pictures were ready and I could not wait to pick them up and re-live the summer. Usually there were a bunch of pictures that shouldn’t have been developed – people’s heads cut off or a bright flash, but in those days (I sound so old) the whole roll was developed and you didn’t get to see the pictures until the you gave the film in to be developed.

Fast forward to today, as you all know we see our photos instantly. One thing that has for sure changed is we are taking multiple pictures of the SAME moment. When we were using film and you didn’t have the choice to only develop the shot you liked best we were a lot slower to push the capture button. Now my phone is my camera and I take many pictures every single day. I don’t know how people don’t feel “Photo-whelmed” (like overwhelmed incase that wasn’t obvious).

There are many different ways to manage your photos and videos, and this is just one way of doing it. Here is how I help myself feel less photo-whelmed. I have not yet conquered the videos, but I will touch on it.

Step 1: If you have years of photos that you haven’t done anything with and the job just seems too large, accept it and move forward. If you want, you can pick a few top events over the years (birth of a child, special birthday, fabulous vacation) and dedicate some time to developing or creating a photobook that highlights those years, but don’t expect to go back so far and get it all done. If you can, that is great! But if it is too much, decide it is time to start and start from the present time.

Step 2: Now that you are starting, you have to actually start. We are now approaching the end of October so you can tackle the past 2 months, September and October. This method of having a finished product of every 2 months works for me, but if you feel that you need to do every month, go for that too. In fact, I usually organize every month if I can but I only order at the end of 2 months. You will have to see what works best for you. However, I think longer than 2 months can get overwhelming, and that is what we are trying to limit so let’s stick with every month – 2 months.

Step 3: We are focusing on September-October. It is too late to have already done September separately, but for the future for November-December, at the end of November you can do the tasks below and then again at the end of December. Within this step there are more steps – I think that is the key. I don’t sit down and do all these steps in one sitting. I do it over time and therefore it is not a huge job.

 Task 1: If you want to store all your photos, even ones that you don’t want to put in a photobook, move your pictures from that month to your place of storage. For now I move all the pictures from the month off my phone to my computer and I back them up on an external harddrive. They are in folders labeled by month and year, “September 2015” and this way it is very easy to find pictures according to dates. {I have friends that LOVE using Google Photos – so definitely check that out. It automatically uploads your photos from all your devices and organizes them for you. Best part about it – it is free and unlimited storage for photos and videos.}

Update: I have switched my first step so I wanted to update. Now that basically all my pictures are on my phone and not a camera, I go through my phone and favorite the pictures from that month that I would want in the book. Then I go to the Shutterfly app, and I upload them directly from my phone into the app. When I click upload, I choose favorites as the album I want to choose from, and then I name the album according to the month, “July 2017” and then all the ones I favorited from that month are now in an album on my shutterfly account. The way I do it now is combining Task 1 and 2, so 2 is no longer relevant to me and now after I’ve uploaded to the app, whenever I am ready I go on my computer to Shutterfly and I have pictures organized by month in albums so I can get right to work. 

Task 2: Once I have my photos uploaded to my computer, I make a folder “Photobook September 2015” and I go through all the pictures from that month and I pull the ones that I would want in my photobook and put those pictures in the folder. I find this the hardest step. It is time consuming and I’m pretty good at making choices, but because of what I mentioned earlier – MULTIPLE photos of the same thing, there is a lot of choices to make and it just takes time.

Task 3: The hard part is done – You now have a folder filled with great photos that show your September month. Repeat Task 1 and 2 for October OR do Task 3 and then repeat Tasks 1 – 3 for October – Your choice! Task 3 is when you actually do something with the photos. For some people, you may just be happy knowing that your photos are organized and you are done. I personally like having photobooks to look at. You can either develop the “Photobook September 2015” folder and place the photos in an album (many online websites allow you to upload the photos and you can ship the photos directly to you). You can order some larger pictures to frame around the house and the rest you can just put in albums – again, your choice. I take the photos and upload them to Shutterfly and make photobooks. I make photobooks using Custom Path as I enjoy the creation process, but if that is not up your alley – you can still have a fabulous looking photobook because Shutterfly (and other sites) will make them for you! There are 2 options – you can upload your photos and the computer will organize the pictures on the photobook pages for you. You can add text and edit some things if you wish and then order — simple and easy which is why is it called Simple Path. The other option is a New option that shutterfly offers, for a $9.99 fee you can have a designer create a book for you and then you can approve. You only pay the fee if you order the book. To review, three options: 1) Custom Path 2) Simple Path and 3) Make My Book (have a designer do it for you).

Some tips:

  • The 12×12 photobook size is great because it is large enough that when you use a layout that has 12+ pictures on a page, even the small little pictures are visible.
  • Do not place an order if you don’t have a promotional code. The books are always 40-50% off every couple of weeks, so create your book and save it and wait to order when you get the code.

First Year books:

If you are into the type of thing of having a book of your child’s first year, and if you are already doing the above it makes it easier to do. I make one photobook for my child’s first year and each 2 page-spread is one month. It adds an extra step at the beginning, but I love being able to look back at the year and see the whole year in one book and when he reached milestones. When you are doing Task 2 – going through all your pictures and choosing which ones go in the designated folder, create another folder titled “Child Name September 2015.” From the pictures of the month, choose the best ones that you would want in the book. As each month passes, sign in to Shutterfly and update this book by adding a 2 page spread of the month with pictures and a little blurb about what happened that month, for example, “In September, you started crawling!” etc.. This year-long project happens at the same time as you are creating your other books because the baby book does not include pictures of other children or friends and trips. (It is just about the baby so it is separate book but I find I do put duplicates from of the baby in baby book and the family photobooks that I’m making every 2 months.) Adding 2 pages once a month is really not overwhelming especially when you think about parents wanting to put something together as they approach the child’s first birthday and would have to go back to newborn pictures or even remember what happened when – that would take talent!

Again, this is just how I do it but feel free to take the underlying ideas — creating a baby book as the year goes, organizing all your photos 1 month at a time, first choosing the photos and then on a different day creating the photobook — and see how some of these steps can help you out with whatever you choose your final product to be. There are some times that I start doing Task 2, and I just don’t feel in the mood. I put it away and try another night. *Just be careful to have a deadline so that the pictures don’t pile up.

I have a friend that used Chatbooks – it sends her automatic photobooks of all her Instagram pictures. Such a great idea!

Before I wrap up, I want to touch upon videos. I have my videos organized in the sense that if I want to see a video from August 2014, I would just go to that folder name and I would see the videos. My plan is to take my videos and combine them into 1 movie of the whole year. This plan seems to be slipping away, but maybe I will take my own advice and start for 2016. I know there are people and businesses that you send them your videos and they will combine them and do it for you.

Organizing your pictures can feel like a full time job especially if you love to take photos. To feel less photo-whelmed dedicate a night, it can be the last day of every month, where you tackle Task 1 and 2. Then dedicate another night to do Task 3. If you don’t set aside time for it, it won’t get done. If you leave it and let it pile up, it’s so hard to start again. But if you stay on top of it, and you only need to go through 250 pictures and pick your favorites — that is not as overwhelming as 2,500 pictures. Now remember, if this is not up your alley and not something you want to put on your very long To-Do list, do NOT feel guilty!! I refer you to my post, Give Guilt the Boot. As I said then, I may be up-to-date on my photobooks and my kids have a first year baby book but I really don’t like taking them to the park and many many other things that others do that I don’t. The intention of this post is not to make you feel even worse if organizing your photos is on your To-Do list and you didn’t get there yet. The intention is to hopefully help you feel like you CAN do it. One month at a time.