Learn tips for how to organize photographs as well as declutter both film and digital photographs and keep the memories that matter most.

Have you been saying that you will go through and declutter your photos and organize them but it hasn’t happened? Are you overwhelmed when you even think about those big boxes of photos? Do you wonder how to digitize photos and other options for photographs?  Learn how to declutter and organize your photos.

Today’s blog was inspired by my friend who was going through all her photos as well as my High School reunion.  I was going through my memory box and clearing my clutter.  I gave away my senior year yearbook from high school because I never looked at it. I can catch up at a reunion if I want because someone always brings some.

I also had a client recently for whom I did just a little bit of work on how to organize photographs.


First, Schedule Time

This is a big project to tackle.  Block out the time to make it happen!

Next, begin the process by Grouping into smaller piles: year/month, decade, life stage, event, and people. What makes sense to you? When you think about your finished project, how would you like to see them organized?

Do a purge and then do another one.   Declutter the photos that are: blurry, unflattering, and you don’t like.

Duplicates: Give to friends, family, or kids, or make cards from them.

Once you have decluttered all your photos and separated them into categories that make sense to you, how would you like to organize them:

  • Boxes? Frames? Albums? Digital?

Consider using Acid-free, archival products, and don’t forget to

Label!  Make it easy to find the photographs you’re looking for.


Protect Photos

Here are some things to think about:

  • Temperature, humidity, and light affect photos. Keep pictures and albums away from sunlight and store them in a cool, dry area.
  • Hang framed photos on a wall that won’t get direct sunlight, which fades photos quickly. Or use blinds and draperies to control the light.
  • Avoid storing photos in basements or attics, where temperatures and humidity fluctuate.
  • Oils on your fingers degrade photos and negatives, so handle them by the edges only. For additional protection, wear clean white cotton gloves.
  • Paper clips, rubber bands, glue, and tape shouldn’t come in contact with photos unless specifically designed as safe for photos.
  • Plastic pages, bags, and boxes that aren’t acid-free might release harmful vapors that permanently damage photos. Safe plastic products include polypropylene, polyethylene, mylar, Tyvek, and cellulose triacetate.
  • Before you buy, check labels on photo boxes, mats, and albums to make sure they’re acid-free and photo-safe.
  • Frame photos using acid-free matting materials.
  • Adhesives might chemically interact with images and ruin the photos if you try to remove them from an album at a later date. Use specially made acid-free glue sticks, markers, and corners on your photos.

Digital Photos

  • Download monthly from the phone, and camera onto the computer.  Set up folders or use a photo management program.
  • Delete bad photos and duplicates immediately. Which photos are really great and tell a story, put a smile on your face, and are really wonderful. If all the photos are great, then none of them are.
  • Make folders to organize. You can do a chronological, theme.  You can do it by year, and month and then in each month subfolders.
  • Rename each photo. If you were to go look for it what would you call it?  If you color-correct, fix red-eye, or otherwise edit your images, do that as you rename them.
  • Back up.  You will want to have an External hard drive o a cloud option.
  • Delete from a camera or phone.

Are your photos protected? What do you need to do to protect them? When was the last time you went through your digital photos?

How would you like to display digital photos?

  • Organize books, rotating frame
  • Website like SmugMug
Woman seated at desk using her computer for a virtual coaching session.

Moving forward, create a routine for downloading, printing, and organizing. Check the date and time. Although you may have set the time and date on your camera when you first set it up, when you change the batteries or time zones, these settings can drift over time by minutes or hours. With correct date and timestamps, photos taken at the same time of the same subject will appear next to each other in your photo library, making it easier to browse to find your favorite photos.

Turn on GPS. We can forget exactly where a photo was taken. Many digital cameras have GPS, but leaving it turned on can drain the battery. If you’re going out for a long time, try taking the first couple of photos at your first location with GPS turned on. Then turn it off until you arrive at the next location.

Keywords and Tags

Be consistent in naming and tagging your photos with keywords you’ll remember and use. A tag or keyword can be a phrase or a single word. Don’t skimp when using keywords. Free associate to come up with words that describe your photos. As you get ready to import your photos to your computer, think about the event, the subject, and where the photos were taken. Add multiple keywords by using a comma between keywords in the image tag or keyword entry.

Genre What is the general theme of the photo? people, family, mountains, trees, rivers, cities, flowers, birds, clouds, food, holiday, birthday, sports, dances, vacations, travel, and concerts.

men s white button up dress shirt
Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

Time of day, seasons Times and seasons can be helpful both as a descriptor and as a way of grouping photos for a period of time—for example, with keywords for winter, summer, spring, or autumn. Searching for “autumn” might bring together photos from the start of school, homecoming, the pumpkin patch, etc.

Specifics Name the event: “Julie’s birthday,” “Emma soccer tournament,” “Beach vacation,” “Max soccer”, or “Clare play.”

If you don’t take a lot of photos, you might be able to get away with more general keywords. “flowers” might pull up only a few dozen photos to look through. The more specific the keyword or tag, the easier it will be to find the exact photo you want.

Subject matter Describe what’s in the actual photos. For a party, you might choose “games, cake, singing, dancing, selfies.

How can you organize your photos? What photographs do you need to declutter? Can a program or app help you with your digital photos?


Take Actions from both blogs on how to organize photographs.

  • Set aside time to tackle your photographs
  • Declutter your photos. Get rid of blurry, unflattering.  Have a plan for any duplicate photos.
  • Organize photos in a way that makes sense to you.
  • Decide how you would like to display: books, albums, photo collages.
  • Would you like to use archival quality materials? Decide and purchase any you many need.
  • Organize digital photos and choose how you would like to display.

DIY Options to Declutter Your Life

Let Go of Your Physical Clutter - Buy affirmations to clear physical clutter today!

Purchase Julie’s books on how to clear clutter from your life: https://reawakenyourbrilliance.com/shop/

Subscribe to Clear Your Clutter Inside & Out Podcast https://reawakenyourbrilliance.com/life-coaching/podcast-coaching/self-help-podcast/

Check out more of my decluttering tips and how to get organized on my YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/SeibertRadio?feature=watch