How To Organize Your Photos Digitally

When I was asked to scan old family slides for a family friend recently, it got me thinking about how I have preserved my family photos. My mom did a great job of organizing and preserving photos from throughout my childhood in scrapbooks. She did the same for her parents photos which is exactly what I was hoping for when I set out on this project.

Once I gathered all the old family albums I started scanning them in. I did not choose every photo, just the memorable ones including a sweet moment between my maternal grandmother and grandfather. It was taken in 1968.

A beautiful picture of my mother at age 18. My father took the photo with the Pentax K1000 he gave me earlier this year. I hope I can learn to master this camera to take such lovely pictures.

I think the same camera took this photo of my brother and I as well.

I’m digging the 70s style going on in this photo of my dad.

So after I finished scanning all 16 albums of photos and 1 large box with 6 years of photos. I set out to organize them by year, import them to iPhoto, and back them up on an external drive. I decided that the best way to complete this was separating pictures by month.

I only did this for year’s that I had hundreds of photos starting in 2003. I’m fairly sure that was when my parents bought a digital camera so picture taking definitely increased. Here is how I organized my photos on my MacBook Pro. This will be fairly easy to replicate on a PC. Once I separated them by month, I renamed them sequentially. For each batch, I listed the month number, the month, the year, and a single photo number. If that explanation is confusing, here is an example: 05May2010-024. Computers organize files sequentially so using numbers is the best way to keep your photos in order. Plus, by providing all the information you will always know the month and year the photo was taken. On a Mac, the easiest way to rename files is in the Automator application. The program opens your files, you select “Rename Finder Items,” put in your specification, and run the action. It’s very easy.

Once I renamed all my photos, I imported them into iPhoto organized by year.

If you want to do all this work within iPhoto, you can select multiple photos and choose “Adjust Date and Time” in the “Photo” menu. If your photos are in order the dates under the event will read sequentially and your photos will automatically be in order. I altered mine externally because most of my old photos came from several sources increasing the chance that they would have crazy file specification, which they annoyingly did.

This project does take lots of time but it’s definitely worth it. Now my photos are ready and organized for my reference. And they’re readily organized for my yearly photo books such as the awesome one I made earlier this year.

Although it’s a time consuming project, the preservation of family memories is worth all the time.

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3 thoughts on “How To Organize Your Photos Digitally

  1. Pingback: Family Photobook | DownShannonLane

  2. Good photos and story. A worthwhile project if one has the time and patience. An easier way is to use mobile apps e.g. Pic Scanner for iPhone and iPad, and Heirloom for Android. These not only scan, but also automatically crop and facilitate easy organization of photos.

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