Wednesday, 16 October 2019

How To Organize Your Digital Photos

Does this sound familiar? You have a million digital photos and no idea how to organize them? Maybe they're spread out on a variety of different computers, external drives, phones, accounts, and clouds? Maybe you started a backup system years ago but abandoned it because you simply didn't have the time to continue? And what about video clips? What do you do with those?

That was exactly me a few months ago. We had thousands of digital photos everywhere. Some were my own, some were Rob's, some were from professional photos we'd had done as a family. Few were backed up, and many sitting in a hot mess on my work computer. Not exactly the ideal situation.

However, one of my resolutions this year was to organize and backup our digital photos. I'm really happy with how it all turned out, so here's how I did it.



STEP 1 - MAKE A LIST OF ALL OF THE PLACES YOUR PHOTOS ARE CURRENTLY STORED

I had digital photos in the following places: my phone, my husband's phone, random folders on my work laptop, iPhoto, Picassa (now Google Photos), my husband's Google Drive, along with saved emails and links to photos on SeeSaw from my son's teachers. You may also have some on an external hard drive.

STEP 2 - DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT

I had three goals for this project:
1. Backup all of our photos in one location and sort them by year.
2. Create a printed photo book for each year.
3. Combine each years video clips into a single video.

Then I made a list to help me track where I was and what photos I'd sorted.


STEP 3 - DECIDE WHERE YOU WANT TO BACKUP AND SORT YOUR PHOTOS

After researching and crowd-sourcing ideas, we landed on using Google Photos to backup and store our pictures and videos. If you ever used Picassa, anything you had already stored on there is currently in your Google Photos account (yeah!). I bought 100G of storage (the annual fee is cheaper than the monthly fee), and this is more than enough storage for us right now.
($27.99 CAD/year)

Many people use external hard drives; however, Rob and I don't feel as confident about that choice. Eventually the drive will fail or become obsolete (Think: Floppies, diskettes,  CD ROMs).
We decided to put our backups on the cloud, which we could access at any time from anywhere.


STEP 4 - START SORTING

My next step was to create an album for that year in Google Photos. Then I went through each of the locations I listed in step one and pulled out all of the photos for that particular year. I started with 2007 and repeated for each year. The good thing about digital photos, is that most of them have a date assigned to them, so this isn't too difficult to do.

*Tip - Have your partner share their Google Photos account with you in their settings, or at least some shared folders, so you can pull photos from their account as well. Rob and I each have our phones automatically backing up to our Google Photos accounts now, so this will make photo sorting much easier in the future.

The fun part about this is that there were actually photos and videos I'd taken that Rob hadn't ever seen and vice versa :)


STEP 5 - DELETE DUPLICATES

Once I had all of my 2007 photos and video clips uploaded to my 2007 album in Google Photos, I'd go through it slowly and delete duplicates and photos/videos I didn't want to keep.  I did this by hand, though some programs offer this feature.


*Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each year.*


STEP 6 - CREATE A PHOTO BOOK (optional)

There are dozens of places online where you can turn your digital photos into photo books. After looking up a number of them online, I decided to go with Shutterfly. The main reason was because they have this excellent "make my book" service that saved me a ton of time and their photo books and are almost always on sale.

Once I had my photos for that year narrowed down, I uploaded them to Shutterfly and chose the Make My Book option. I selected the theme, style, size, and layout of my book, and they did all the heavy lifting by designing each page using my pictures. To me, this is totally worth the $10 additional fee.

A few days later, I'd receive an email with a link to preview my book. I could make any changes I wanted before placing my final order. (You are also under no obligation to purchase the book if you change your mind entirely.)

I played around with a few different formats and here are my preferred settings for their photo books:
- 8 x 11
- flatlay pages (not the deluxe ones, then your book will be massive)
- watercolour layout



*First note - Sometimes the portrait photos I took on my iPhone didn't upload properly to Shutterfly, and got cut off. To fix this, open the photo on your computer, rotate it all around once, and save it. It doesn't actually look any different, but it should then upload properly to Shutterfly. This is, by far, the most annoying part of the whole digital organization project. See pic below.




*Second note - Shutterfly doesn't accept .png photos, so I used this free website to convert any .png photos I had to .jpg.


Printing six photo books in one year is both a financial commitment and an investment in time, but I will never regret having these photo books printed. To help me manage my time, I'd work on this project for 30 minutes/day as often as I could.


STEP 7 - CREATE A VIDEO COMPILATION (optional)

The last thing I did was I downloaded all of the video clips for each year and used iMovie to make a video compilation. All of our 2012 video clips were put together into one longer video. Most of mine ended up being about 30 minutes each. Then I'd upload the full video back to Google Photos (for easy sharing). My son loved it when one of the videos was ready for us to watch. It made for a fun family evening to see these videos together.

Tip - grandparents love these videos/links as well!


And I think that's it! It's been a labour of love, but I'm happy with how everything has turned out. I'm finishing up my 2018 photo book this week, and I feel so much more at peace with our our memories are stored.

xo
Jenn

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