Mom I Need a Photo of Me in First Grade

One of the most common questions Life Your Way readers ask when we talk about decluttering and organizing is how to organize photos. So, over the next three weeks, we’ll be talking about all things photo-related with a special series from the Association of Personal Photo Organizers!

The following is written by Jana Gentry:

source: Joe Shlabotnik

“Mom, I need a photo of me in the first grade.”

This should be as simple as finding her pink and blue hair ribbon right? Well as I ponder the possible location of this precious photo, I think “wherever I put it, it was logical at the time.”

I go to the drawer in the china cabinet, where everyone keeps their photos right?  The drawer overflows with hundreds of photos each one a precious memory of my daughter.  This is actually how I “organized” my photos 15 years ago.

With the introduction of digital cameras, Facebook, cell phones and computers, capturing your life in photos is easy and possible 24 hours a day. As a Mom we want to make sure we don’t miss a moment of our family’s lives. The challenge is having a system to organize those photos and then getting them into formats that allow us to enjoy and find them at a moment’s notice.

Technology can be both a friend and a foe.  It makes our lives easier and overwhelming.  For example: It is your son’s first birthday party and you have 25 photos of him blowing out the candles on his cake. You have recorded the historic moment but do you need all 25 photos?

Do you know how to move them from your digital card to the computer and then upload them to your local photo lab?  Don’t forget Grandma who lives in another state, your sister who communicates with you on Facebook, and your friends who you’ll show the pictures to at lunch tomorrow.

If you need a little help organizing your photos, here are a few tips I use.

Find a system that works for you.

There are many photo organization systems available.  Photo safe boxes to organize and store printed photos and computer software to organize your digital photos.  After trying almost everything, I have found that organizing photos by themes is easier.

Do you remember writing a research paper in school? The first step was writing the outline. Approach your photos the same way.

1. Choose your subject: Our Family.

2. Then your major points: Birthdays, Vacations, Holidays, Pets etc.

3. Bullet points under each major point: Birthdays: Ryan, Erin, Papa Wynn etc.

4. Then the facts: The story those photos tell. My favorite photo from my daughter’s first birthday.  She had just learned to walk a few days before her birthday.  We had a cookout and had just cut her cake and put a piece down on the picnic blanket.  She stood up and took one step lost her balance and sat on her piece of cake!

Put your system to work.

Once you completed the outline, the actual writing of the research paper was easy.  Set up your photo organization system. Take your photos. Pick your favorites. As soon as you take them add them to their appropriate theme. Write the story while you can remember the details. Print ,share and most of all enjoy your photos!

Then, when your daughter needs that photo from first grade…..the only thing in your china cabinet is her silver baby spoon.

How do you organize your photos?

Click here for all of the posts in this series.

Jana Gentry has a passion for photography and has been helping people with their photos for over nine years.  She is a Personal Photo Organizer and sports photographer who is married with two children. She is a member of the APPO Association for Personal Photo Organizers.