Streamlining, Organizing & Digitizing Your Photos For Full Enjoyment

In the spirit of Mari Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I recently decided to organize my photos so they are more readily accessible, all in one place, and easier to enjoy. Good plan right? But how to incorporate all my pre-digital prints? I knew to do this right, I’d have to tackle my collection of print photos, which live in photo albums. 46 photo albums to be exact.

After recognizing that consolidating my photos into fewer albums would take too long, I decided that converting them into digital format was best. In our digital age, it just made sense to have them all saved in one format in one place.

But 46 albums worth of photos to digitize was too much – I knew I need to purge and keep only meaningful photos. I was feeling defeated even before I started! ”This is too overwhelming”, “I’ll do this next year” and “How can I throw away my life’s memories” were constants in my head. Not to mention, “I should keep my creative albums, my son will love these one day.”

But, who was I kidding, no one will want to look through 46 photo albums! And what joy are they bringing to anyone stored in my basement?

Time to find some support to help me be successful. I found support by searching online for a professional photo organizer. Knowing that someone could pick up, expertly scan, drop off my printed photos and guide me throughout the process, was a huge incentive. With this professional help, I felt confident I could do it!

Yet I still felt scared and overwhelmed but had trust that all would be okay if I just started, so I did, one album at a time. I reminisced about prior travel adventures, family holidays, university days, old boyfriends and past friendships. I started to feel very nostalgic and wondered how I could ever release any photos. I definitely thought of quitting.

But over the course of a month, I went through each album, deciding which photos resonated with me most.

After removing the chosen photos from each of the 46 albums, and labelling them by year, activity and people involved, I put the 2,500 “keepers” in a shoebox.

That felt good – but there were still too many to scan. So, over the next month, I edited my shoebox photos, removing a few photos each time until I was down to 600, a number that felt manageable.

Lingering doubts remained – was I throwing away my sentimental memories in an effort to be more organized? Would I regret it? And how could I “get rid of” the now picked-through 46 albums? Stay the course I kept telling myself – trust the process.

And so, complete with bent pages, gummy tack and frayed edges, I let the 46 albums of “unchosen” photos go.
Trusting that I had what I needed in my 600 prints, I was now ready for a professional photo organizer to digitize my memories!

Some lessons learned through this process:
– trust in the belief that you will remember what you want to remember – one great photo can capture it all
– when deciding what to keep or release, I found it harder to let go of key people pictures; much easier to release photos of scenery, architecture, etc.
– if you find yourself wanting to do this but failing, pay an expert who can save you time, energy and sanity. Knowing I had a professional with a high-speed scanner ready to support me, helped me stay on course!
– if you take your time to sort through photos in stages, that really helps make it manageable and not overwhelming
– determine what labeling system you will use and be consistent
– make sure to save your digitized photos to an external hard drive as well as your computer.

Choosing to downsize and consolidate my photos has been an opportunity to not only get organized, but to reflect on who, and what, have been important in my life. And with all my photos digitized and categorized in one place, I can now create photo books, view slide shows, or come up with other ways to enjoy my life’s visual memories.

I hope that by sharing my own process, I can help others feel confident to take on a photo downsizing and organizing project – it is well worth the effort.

Please share your comments or suggestions – we always love to hear from you!

About the Author

Having caught the organizational bug early on trying to “balance” things out as an elite gymnast, Jessica Tudos brings diverse skills and experiences to her professional organizing.  Drawing from her global work as an experiential educator, author, and motivational speaker, Jessica is on a mission to empower people to lead healthy, creative and organized lives.