Organizing Ideas
May 12, 2021

Digital Photo Storage - How to Best Archive Your Memories

Digital Photo Storage - How to Best Archive Your Memories

We recently heard a podcast about digital photo organizing, & it made us think about what a huge undertaking photo archiving is these days, particularly because we all walk around with a great camera in our pockets. Now more than ever, we have the ability to capture literally everything. This is, of course, great for remembering special moments, but the sheer volume of photographs we each have can quickly become overwhelming. 

Knowing what to do with all these pictures, how to best store them, where to find them when you need them, and how to carve out the time to get it all done is a big task, but one that our team has a good handle on! The point of photographs is to be able to look back and enjoy our memories, so let's take the overwhelm out of the equation and create a system that works, commit to keeping up with it, and most importantly, be able to easily enjoy our photographs as the years go by. 

Just Get Started!

If you wait until you have the time, chances are you will never get started. Like most things, we have to consciously make time and prioritise doing the work, otherwise life has a way of taking over. Carving out a few hours to get started is the best way to get the ball rolling and begin your forward-moving momentum. Below are some of the best tips we've discovered through years of personal work and professional organizing experience. 

Follow the SPACE method to sort them: 


Start by loading all your photos from all your various devices onto a single computer or external hard drive. Begin with a macro sort: going through your photos and creating folders based on broad categories or whatever can easily be identified from them. For example, make a folder for a specific trip or special event. Including a date in the folder name is an easy way to streamline the process even further (either just the year or more specifically the month). Some naming examples include: "03-2020-Palm Springs" "Summer 2020-Family Photoshoot" "09-2020-Kootenay River". If there are random one-off photos that don't belong in any of the more specific folders you've created, they can be relegated to a generic year folder, or break it down even further and create folders to sort by season ('Winter 2020', 'Spring 2020', etc.)


Move on to the micro sort: go through each folder and discard pictures you don't need. If there are 10 from the same event, pick the best one or two. Keep in mind that if there are too many photos, or multiples of the same thing, it becomes redundant and less enjoyable to go through and view them as the years go on. Honour those special moments by making sure only the best and brightest photos are kept to be enjoyed.


This has been done a bit already as we began our sort, but at this point, make sure to refine your folders. Do the folder categories flow and make sense? Are they all in the same format? Also, now is a great time to back up! Either to a cloud storage programs like Dropbox by Google, or to a secondary hard drive. If you want to be really safe, consider backing up annually to a separate hard drive that you store in a safety deposit box or a family member's home. Be sure to do this step regularly (monthly or semi-monthly is ideal)—If anything ever goes wrong, you'll be so thankful you did.


When it comes to photos, all that's left is to enjoy them! Photo books, slideshows, movies, digital picture frames, calendars, etc. There are so many fun options to create something special with your photos—they don't just need to stay filed away on your computer. And now that your photos are sorted and organized, it's super easy to do these meaningful extras.

Ongoing maintenance is key. Once you've established your filing system, upkeep and maintenance will really help streamline and speed up the process going forward. Here are a few ways we keep on top of photo filing systems:At least once per month, when you find yourself with a couple spare moments, go through your phone and delete photos that you don't need-duplicates, mistakes, screen grabs, photos with eyes closed, or anything not worthy of keeping. Spending a few minutes doing this regularly will significantly lessen your purging load down the line. Monthly Sort Try to stick to a schedule where you import and download from all your devices on a monthly basis rather than all at once at the end of the year. Breaking this process down into smaller, bite-sized chunks helps to keep you motivated and focused, and makes the entire process far less daunting. 


If you've been able to keep up with your monthly sorting, at the end of the calendar year, you should have a fairly well-edited and organized archive of the year's photos. Now is a great time to go through all your folders and do one final round of purging. It's also a lovely time to look back and reflect on all the fun adventures and good memories that you've had during the last 12 months. Congratulations on your hard work!

Once you have your system established, creating things like annual photo books, slideshows, or printing photos for gifts becomes such a lovely and easy way to enjoy and share your beautiful memories. Creating some way to document the highlights of your year is an amazing gift for years to come. Give it a try. What to do with prints or negatives? Most of us have a collection of older printed photographs and negatives. If you are wanting to digitise some of these for archiving, start at the beginning of the SPACE method—sorting and purging—so you are only digitising the best of the best and not wasting time or money scanning unnecessary images. Outsourcing your scanning or purchasing a home photo scanner are both great options if high quality photo resolution is important (most photo labs offer scanning services; prices vary based on volume and resolution needed.) If you are OK with smaller file sizes, there are several awesome (and free!) photo scanning apps on the market. (Google Photo Scan is super user-friendly and provides great, quick results.)

Lastly, if you need a helping hand, give us a call! We love a good filing project and can create a master filing system for you quickly and effortlessly.

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