How to organise your family photos

One of the things that I set out to do this year is to go through some of the big house projects that have been lurking in the background for a while. The ones that look so big and intimidating that I never seem to find the time to break down in small chunks and start tackling.

One of them is sorting out our family photos in a way that:

1) is safe and means we won’t lose the thousand photos we take each year on our phones;

2) makes sense (i.e. arranged per event etc);

3) is accessible to the children when they want to look back at all our family photos, not only when they’re older, but also now.

I used to be quite good at this – I used Picasa to back photos up from my phone and then organise them in albums. Once in a while, I also used to back the photos up on an external drive and organise them in folders there too.

When the children were little (under 1), I’d have one folder per month of their first year and other folders would be for holidays or days out in an overall yearly folder. But at some point in 2014 (perhaps around the time our third child was born) I seem to have stopped doing this regularly enough (except for the baby photos), and as a result our photos are now backed up on Google Photos exactly as they were taken on my phone – no order, no grouping, and all mixed up with the random photo you take of a recipe at the back of the flour packet just to refer to it later. You know, the ones that you really don’t need to keep!

A mess.

So I thought I’d ask some fellow parent bloggers how they manage the photo situation in their families, hoping to maybe hear that I’m not the only one who hasn’t kept up with this but also to see whether I’m missing a trick and there’s an easier, less time-consuming way of doing it.

So, starting with Hannah from Hi Baby Blog, who claims that “she doesn’t organise photos as she’s a terrible person” (we know that Hannah isn’t, of course!), we find that if she did, she’d name each photo, categorise it by date and occasion, and in the description she’d add alt tags so that she could input those easily when she uploads them into WordPress. And this just goes to show how you could easily spend your entire life just doing this, right?

So, if you actually can’t do all that, for obvious reasons, what is it that people do?

Where do people back their photos up?

  • Rosie from Life Throuh Rosie’s Lens and Becca from Pears and Chocolate Sauce transfer their photos onto their laptop and, like Alex from Better Together Home, they also back them up onto an external hard drive.
  • Katie from Living Life Our Way and Rosie from Life Throuh Rosie’s Lens also use Dropbox.
  • Care from Care Johnson stores them online through OneDrive, so she can share folders with family abroad each time photos are added and doesn’t have to keep digital copies on her laptop or phone.
  • Katy from Katy Kicker backs them up on two separate USB sticks, just to be on the safe side.
  • Nicola from Mummy to Dex stores photos on FlickR.
  • Being part of a couple of professional photographers, Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof stores her photos on a shared Synology drive.
  • Katy from Hot Pink Wellingtons stores them on Picasa.
  • Nicola from All Things Spliced uploads her photos into organised folders on Facebook. She also has a ‘secret’ Facebook album of her baby, with photos that she wants to keep private and not share with the world.
  • Jade from Mummies Waiting has a My Cloud in her home, which updates all photos and videos every night as they sleep. (How efficient!)
  • Nyomi from Nomipalony stores her photos on her iPhone cloud. Every now and then, when it gets full, the photos are stored on their server, which gets backed up. But they feel they have so many photos that Nyomi decided to start family Vlogging in order to be able to easily look back on the memories.
  • On the storage of digital files, Jenni from Chilling with Lucas raises a very good point around the fact that technology is developing so quick that she doesn’t trust her photos to be safe on a USB stick, CD or online storage in 20 years’ time (will they be still usable?), so she prints her photos out instead and writes the date of when they were taken on the back. That way they’ll always be accessible to her family.

How often do they back them up?

This is obviously where I’m going wrong, having not done it for (ahem) years! So the fact that it’s now become such a huge task for me is the simple result of not having kept up with it.

How do they organise them?

Most people have a similar way of organising digital photos in folders:

  • Rosie from Life Throuh Rosie’s Lens has folders from January to December for each year and special ones for days out and holidays.
  • Katie from Living Life Our Way has folders by age, event, occasion, holiday etc.
  • Katy from Katy Kicker has folders for holidays, family days out, food items and many more.
  • Nicola from Mummy to Dex creates a new folder every week according to how many weeks her baby is (although this will change to months when he’s a bit older) and shares photos with parents and in-laws.
  • Alex from Better Together Home organises photos in folders by event, place, date etc.
  • Chantele from Two Hearts One Roof organises photos in folders by year, event etc.

How do they share them with their children?

Most people who store their photos online already share them with relatives and don’t see why their children, once they’re old enough, can’t have access to those folders too. I don’t have a problem with that happening either, but I feel that we, as a family, are missing out on the experience of going through the photos together and talking about a day out, a place, an event, a holiday.

Going through the photos and talking about them can contribute to the memory of the event – just talking about it actually helps to remember details that otherwise would be forgotten and going through photos is a good prompt for talking about those days.

So I’ve been thinking, once I’ve backed my photos up and divided them in folders, to create photobooks for each year since my first son was born (mind you, he’s the only one of my 3 children who has his own ‘My first year’ photobook).

And I see that other people have thought about this too:

  • Annastasia from Hacking Parenthood saves her photos into a freebook app and makes a photo booklet every month. They are cheap and small, so very easy to store.
  • Becca from Pears and Chocolate Sauce organises photos by date and event and each year makes a family photobook with the best photos, which they look through together every now and then.
  • Debbie from My Boys Club makes photobooks every year for themselves and the grandparents and reports that the children love flicking through them.
  • Katy from Hot Pink Wellingtons also makes a photobook every year, and because she uses Picasa to back her photos up, she also uses it to organise her photo and select her favourites, which helps with the process of creating the yearly photobooks.
  • Alex from Better Together Home makes scrapbook photo albums and wants to take it a step further this year and plans to scan any physical photos they have to make digital copies of those too.
  • Vivienne from The Mother’s Room is also a big advocate of printing photos out – as she points out, professional-quality prints last a lifetime and will be treasured by our children.

The issue I personally have with printing photos out is the space that all the albums would take up. I already feel that we have too much ‘stuff’ and would like to have more space. But I see that the idea of making photobooks, especially yearly ones, isn’t that unusual at all, so I’m rolling my sleeves up this year and get cracking!

I’ll probably start with 2016 and go backwards from there, and see where I get to!

So here’s a big THANK YOU to all the lovely parent bloggers who contributed to this post with their ideas and tips.

And wish me luck with my big photo project!

What about you? How do you back up, store and organise your family photos? Do you print them or have photobooks that you regularly flick through with your children?

 

4 Comments

  1. 18th January 2017 / 1:24 pm

    Such a great idea for a blog post. Good ideas in here, some I might put into practice. Thanks for including us! I’ll share it on twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

    • Sara
      18th January 2017 / 2:53 pm

      Thank YOU Nyomi for taking part and your ideas and input! And thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. 18th January 2017 / 6:55 pm

    This was genuinely superrrrr interesting and helpful! Thank you for putting it together

    • Sara
      20th January 2017 / 7:22 pm

      Thank you for taking part Hannah! 🙂

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