Organized PHOTOS {Serenity Now}

Oh people, you are going to LOVE this post!  And the gal who wrote it!  I consider Amanda at Serenity Now my blogging big sister (which may be news to her!).  She was one of the first people to comment on my blog and to offer encouragement to this new mom.  Amanda was also the first person to ask me to guest post on her blog.  She’s got the biggest heart and always has a genuine, sincere thought to share on her blog and in the comments she leaves others.  And she makes me laugh!
A good snapshot stops the moment from running away.
-Eudora Welty
Guilt and motherhood seem to go hand in hand.
When I became a mother, there were many things sure to bring on a case of “mommy guilt”: allowing my toddler to watch Elmo for an hour straight, checking email instead of catching up on laundry duty, reading the entire Twilight series in three days while the house fell to pieces around me, or plying the preschooler with Cheez-Its during a shopping trip.
But after chatting with many of my friends (singles, young marrieds, moms of all ages), I’ve learned that one of the biggest worries sure to induce a guilt trip (whether you’re a mom or not!) is that ever-growing pile of photographs in the plastic bin under your couch, or the files waiting to be downloaded from your Nikon.
Do you have a secret box of photos stashed away that you’d love to display…or even just organize, but you don’t know where to start?
Guess what? You don’t have to be a scrapbooker to find fun and creative ways to organize and preserve your family’s most precious moments. I repeat, you don’t have to lock yourself up in a craft closet with a pile of stickers and 14 pairs of decorative scissors in order to document your life. The weather is likely still cold where you are, so take advantage of this last month or two of “hibernation” and get yourself back on track!
Are your photos still waiting patiently on your camera’s memory cards? Those memories aren’t doing anyone any good sitting around as jpegs. Or maybe you planned to just pass your camera around like a photo album at the next family reunion?
The best place to start is to set aside some free time (what’s that?!) to get those digital photos downloaded and organized on your computer. Treat yourself to a Starbucks first if you really need the motivation. Many bloggers like to use sites like Kodak, Picasa, Shutterfly, or Snapfish to back-up, edit, and order prints of their photos.
I personally keep my family pictures organized by month/year in folders on my computer. I use Kodak Picture CDs or Photo DVDs from Costco as back-ups.
But remember, hard drives crash and photo CDs could be obsolete (or unreadable!) in 20 years. This is why printing your photos should be an important goal.
Maybe your photos are already printed, but they’ve been stuffed inside a photo storage box. Going through and organizing by year (and month, if you are able) is a great way to begin.
I personally like to have my pictures out where I can see them, so I buy albums that let you slide your photo into a plastic sleeve and write a caption next to it. Target carries cute albums, but I’ve recently found some large, plain ledger-style books at JoAnn Fabric that hold more photos and are expandable. Be sure to look for acid-free paper.
When I’m feeling nostalgic, I can pull an album off the shelf and thumb through without wondering “Who is in this picture, what are they doing, and where are they?” My girls can also flip through without getting grimey cracker-crumb finger prints everywhere.
No extra papers, stickers, or embellishments were needed. This is the easiest way to organize your photos in a way that gives your family and friends easy access when they visit.
Get Creative:
This is where you can have some fun!
If you think you might be interested in scrapbooking, check with your local craft or scrapbook supply store. Many offer classes, clubs, and workshops to help you reach your goal–whether it’s to start a large album of all your vacations or something small and crafty to give to your baby’s grandparents next Christmas. (My Mini Keyring Photo Album was a huge hit one year)
If the thought of paper, glue, and scissors doesn’t appeal to you, consider going digital with photobooks. Most of the big online photo sites send out great deals periodically. My guests love to thumb through my Shutterfly photo books I keep on the coffee table. I usually manage to score a free 8×8 each summer because I keep track of Shutterfly’s emails.
The blogging world is your oyster if you need some inspiration for displaying your very favorite snapshots. Houzz had a fabulous article filled with ideas for creating unique photo walls.
Be Realistic:
Set goals for yourself and remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I’d love to be able to make some beautiful scrapbooks for my girls, but fitting in time-consuming creative projects just isn’t in the cards for me these days. I stay caught up by printing photos and doing my best to get them into those slide-in albums.
I bet you’re wondering why I’m so motivated to stay on top of family photos.
Please feel free to visit my mom’s house with me someday. Her kryptonite seems to be photo organization.
The Leaning Tower of Tupperware contains years worth of family photos, and there’s a cardboard box in the basement stuffed full of more pictures from the pre-kids days. It will one day become my unhappy task to catalog those. The mere thought of it drives me to the photo kiosk to print my own stuff.
I wouldn’t wish those tupperware bins on any of you. So get busy, get creative, and use those bins for carting your yard sale wares outside come Spring!
{Do you have any fun ways you like to display photos in your home?}
Thank you so much, Megan, for sharing your blog with me today! I hope you’ll come visit me at Serenity Now. I blog about everything from my attempts at decorating and crafty things to recipes, fashion, and the things my kids do to drive me insane.  Looking forward to getting to know you!

********** You can catch me dishing on some design trends at Modern Jane’s blog on Tuesday, January 11, 2011. image

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Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


  1. I've used kodak and picasa for a while now and just really got serious with sorting and organizing my photos a few days ago. I love picasa. It has face recognition which will be helpful when it's time to make the yearly calendar for the grandparents. 🙂 I'm glad I'm not the only one with the plastic tub full of pictures hidden somewhere, threatening to explode one day!
    Thanks for this helpful post and from freeing me from mom guilt!

  2. Photos have always been at the top of my winter to-do list.

    It. Just. Never. Gets. Done.

    This post gave me some great ideas. But seriously, I need a professional help with my photo collection.

    I have photos I inherited from the grandmother, mine own pics from gradeschool, high school, college, and beyond.

    Upwards of 30,000 photos. Most before the digital camera era…

    No joke.


  3. I am always intrigued by how other organize photos! We have so many (200+ a month) that there is no way to print them all. I upload all mine to Shutterfly so that they are backed up. I'll order a disc with the 12 months of photos on it each year. I also make a "year in review" photo book each birthday with all the best photos in it. I am hoping that keeping them all on Shutterfly will help if the technology changes! Thanks for sharing, Amanda!! 🙂

  4. organization is so tough. I have so many unprinted photos just sitting on my computer. Thanks for the motivation!


  5. There was a time I tried to do the scrapbook thing, but realistically there is not enough time in the day with how many photos I take. I don't print them, but back them up to kodak easy share {Grandma knows how to look at them from there}.

  6. Oooh I love this! For some reason I feel like a better person when my photos are organized 🙂 So far only digitally but now I'm motivated to print them. I use Picasa which I love, so easy to use!

  7. Anyone who is not interested in scrapbooking but really wants easy peasy photo albums should check out; I recently made the most beautiful wedding albums. It requires minimal creativity if any. You can place the photos in the templates they provide (so many options), or if you don't feel like it they will place the photos for you. Albums start at $12. From personal experience the photo quality is great!!

  8. This is a huge goal of mine for this year!! We two girls, now 17 and 21, who also participated in many sports and activities worthy of taking pictures…we have TONS of photos that need to be sorted and organized. I will say, most are in chronological order, and the files on the computer are as well. We back ours up every few months, make and copy and give it to my dad. That way, if something were to happen…we aren't the only ones with the photos! I love the idea of the smaller albums…I got too overwhelmed with the scrapbooking. Great post!!

  9. Such good tips! I've fallen a few months behind on printing photos, but it's a good point that technology isn't reliable. I'm going to order mine this week. It's officially on the to-do list!!!


  10. I while back we moved three times in one year and it really forced me to get organized. One of the benefits was that I took the time to organize my pictures. I now print them out every few months, place them in photo albums and then save them on flash drives.

  11. This is a great post. I was actually browsing through Target yesterday and was looking at some of their organizing supplies and photo albums. I don't have any photo albums in the house actually [except a nice hand made one my stepmom made for when our son was born, and has pics from the hospital in it]. I started thinking about how I should print out my photos and start loading them into some nice photo albums!

    I used to store them on my computer however I learned my lesson a couple years ago when the thing crashed and now I currently store them on an external hard-drive. 🙂

  12. Great post, Amanda! We organize our photos on the computer just like you do. We also back them up on an external hard drive and also with some sort of on-line program. What we don't do is print phots. Maybe I should consider doing that!

  13. You are so right about the necessity of printing. I'm guilty of storing pictures on my computer, only occasionally uploading to Snapfish, and even keeping some stored on the camera. 2011 will be my year to print!

  14. Oh please come help me please… 🙂 I used to be so organized with the photo's until my third came along…some day 🙂

  15. I'm new to your blog and your newest follower! Love these photo tips and now I'm going to look back on other organizational tips!

  16. Same here, would love to do it but never gets done. I hope to get to it soon and that's all I can do at this point : )

  17. These are great tips! I'm not a mom but I take LOTS of pictures & I'm currently behind. It's something else that's on the never ending to-do list.

    Megan, check out my post today. I left something for you.

  18. Love Megans organising posts – have been meaning to do this for ages and need to get all the photos down from the loft!
    Rachie xo

  19. Thanks for a great post! I really need to get mine in order and you're right, now is a great time to get it done.

  20. Loving this series! Another great alternative to traditional scrapbooking is digital scrapbooking. I found it last year and have been hooked ever since!

  21. Great tips Amanda! You really have motivated me, and I'm not just saying that! I think I'll actually get started today! You're the best!

  22. Great tips Amanda! I hate to admit that most of my photo storage looks like your mom's. I'll get to it, someday, maybe this year? Finger crossed!

  23. Great timing with this post, I was just looking for a particular picture on my computer and realized I have 10,000 saved on here! Wedding, honeymoon, house pictures, all of which I've never made hard copies of 🙁

    So thanks to this post, if I get a snow day tomorrow my goal is to a) finish my wedding album and b) order some various prints!

  24. Great ideas. I need to be better about printing them out and putting them in albums. I do Shutterfly albums but only once a year. Thanks for a great series, Megan!

  25. Ah- Amanda always makes me smile. "The leaning tower of tupperware", ha! Love it. She makes a good point in remembering to print them out- I need to get on that soon! Love ya both!

  26. Well, I have just book marked this page. I have done about half the things you suggested (used to be a creative Memories Consultant), but the other ideas I hadn't thought of will help me finish off the beast of a pile I have!
    Thank you for writing this post!
    Now where are my bins?

  27. Oh, gosh. You've found my Achilles heel.

    Actually, I'm not very organized with anything (except my baking supplies–wonder what that says about me?). But my photos?? Oh, my goodness, they seem to be practically hopeless! But maybe you're right. Maybe I should just DO some photo organization on some of these cold days. Some organization would be better than none, right?

  28. These are such great tips. We're working on going through ALL old photos from my mom and dad. Talk about a big job. This is giving me the big push to do it.

    Love Amanda.

  29. great post amanda!!! and I hear you on the guilt…ugh!

    I upload my pics to Snapfish, then at the end of every year I wait for a coupon, then make a hardcover photo book. Of the 1000 pics I take during a year, only about 200 are needed to truly document everything. Thanks for the motivation to get my 2010 book done!!

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