Photo albums

Organize your printed photos

It’s time to do something with all those photos!

Many times, when I help clients organize a space, a collection of photo albums, loose photos, or photos in shoe boxes are found.  The thought of organizing all these printed photos can be extremely overwhelming.  Most of the time, we continue with the project at hand and the treasured photos are neatly stacked.  My client vows to organize the printed photos at a future time. 

Has this ever happened to you? Do you need organizing solutions for your printed photos?

In my own home, photo albums in “under the bed” storage containers completely fill the space under 3 beds!  I give myself credit for putting at least most of our photos in albums, but now what?  Above is a photo of my son’s albums.  He now shares a home with his wife, 4 children and a puppy.  Do you think he is EVER going to want these???  I don’t either.  But I do want him and his family to enjoy the photos of his childhood.  

What is your why?   

The first thing to do is determine why you want to organize your printed photos.

-Do you have a graduation or wedding coming up and want to display the best of the best?  Maybe even make a video showing some highlights?

-Would you like to share some “vintage” photos on social media to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or other special days?  

-Do you want to create a framed photo collage for your wall? 

Unfortunately, there may be times that you need older photos very quickly.  For instance, when you are preparing for a funeral.  It is times like these, that it it would be much easier to find the photos if they were organized. 

Here are 4 steps to getting your printed photos organized:

Step 1:  The Search is On 

After you have identified your goal, now you need to find the photos.  Even if they are in albums, the albums may be in various parts of your home. 

As a home organizer, I have found photos in every imaginable place.  Here are some examples: 

-among piles of papers 

-in boxes of miscellaneous items, (such as toys, shoes, clothing) 

-with other items in drawers 

– closets 

-hutches and cabinets

-on the refrigerator 

-in frames (many times there are multiple photos in each frame) 

Next, place all the photos in a bin or a designated workspace.   Realize this is a process and it will take time.  It is helpful to have a workspace that you can return to. 

Step 2:  Gather Your Tools 

It is important to use the right tools, so that your photos are not damaged.  

Here are some important items to have on hand:

-Photo safe pencils 

-Waxed dental floss for removing photos 

-Archival quality photo box with index cards for sorting, if you intend to keep the photos after digitizing (refer to this article for the difference between acid-free and archival quality.) 

-Nitrile gloves, for handling photos

nitrile gloves





-Photo scanner There are so many to choose from.  I landed on the Epson FastFoto FF-680W.

scanner to digitize photos

Epson scanner


Step 3:  Sort the Photos 

Photos can be sorted in chronological order or by themes (holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc.) 

Next, take a hard look at the photos and sort into piles of “keepers”, “maybes”, “toss” and “share”.  There may be duplicate photos that friends and relatives would love to have! 

 A look at the photos may reveal duplicates. Remember the “free” double print deals? You don’t need two copies of any photo, unless you want to share one. You may also find blurry photos or those with foreign objects included (fingers or the handle of the camera). Toss!

Photos of landscape scenes and tourist attractions may be less than perfect.  For some, you may not remember where it was, or you may have taken 20 pictures of the same scene to get that perfect photo.

This step will most likely reveal people who are no longer in your life and may actually trigger negative feelings.   

Stack of photos to toss

Photos that didn’t make the cut

Again, this process takes time.  It can be emotionally draining with all sorts of memories popping up. Take breaks.

As the sorting occurs, store the photos you are finished with in the photo boxes, labeled with index cards.   

Once you are done with a section, go through the “maybe” pile again.  Your decision may be easier the second time around.

Step 4:  Scan your Photos

This is an optional step.  You may be completely satisfied with keeping only the best photos in labeled photo boxes.

If you do want to keep your photos safe digitally, this is one of the best ways to pass them along to the next generation.  It also creates a fast and easy way to locate specific photos needed in a hurry.  As the photos are scanned into your computer, labeled files are created.

To back up these files, they can be downloaded onto a flash drive or a hard drive.  

Step 5:  Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

There are many ways to enjoy your photos.  Of course, you can frame and display them.  Creating photo books with the digital photos is also a great option.  This is a gift I gave my children and grandchildren the last two holidays.  The books recapped their vacations.  This allows my grandchildren to enjoy their vacations with their families over and over! 

Forever photo albums

Photo albums created for gifts

Finally, a digital picture frame allows you or loved ones to enjoy photos every day.  They can be easily updated.   


Hire a helping hand

If this all seems overwhelming, consider turning the task over to a professional. I would be happy to help with the task or at least get the project going.  Just like hiring a Professional Organizer to organize your belongings, hiring one to organize your photos makes sense.   

A Professional can offer:

-A scheduled time to get the work done.  Without this, it is a chore easy to put off.

-Access to a trained professional with experience 

– Much needed patience, in a situation where you may lose yours 

– The ability to look at the photos objectively, with a fresh set of eyes.

Contact me, 

Julie Starke

Julie Starke, Keys to Living Light


Whether you organize your printed photos yourself or hire someone to help you, you will never regret the time you spend on this project.  You, your family and friends will enjoy the memories for years to come.