Photo Organization

Hundreds of photos in disorganized piles? These simple steps to photo organization will help you get your photos organized, and bring order to your photos.

Isn’t it frustrating always having to do repeated searches for photos, and can’t find the exact ones you needed for a scrapbooking layout?

Disorganized and unlabeled photos eat away your scrapping time as you’ll be spending time searching that perfect photos for your layout. Sometimes you’ve even forgotten about a few fabulous snapshots in your unsorted pile of photos and missed out on using them.

Spend some time today to sort and file your photos in an organized system to make scrapbooking a joy, not a nightmare.

Firstly, gather all your photos together. Then go through a toss-give-keep session.


1) Toss
OK, you probably have to be a little more decisive here. Get rid of those bad photos you know you won’t be scrapbooking as they are of poor quality, badly-lit or simply can’t make the cut.

Keeping them will incur additional space and clutter up your photo organization. Weeds will mess up your garden just as bad photos will mess up your photo organization. Unnecessary photo means more time shuffling and finding what you want.

2) Give
What about those so so but aren’t scrapworthy photos? Pull these out and get them into a pile. Then give these photos away to family members, use them as extras your kids can experiment with, or use them in creating gift albums.

3) Keep
These are your winners and keepers. They don’t have be to perfect shots. They do have to make you feel, capture moments and evoke memories. These are photos that inspire you to scrap. Even if you choose not to scrapbook them, these are photos that have a place in your photo albums.


Sorting Out Your Photos

What to do with your keepers? There’s several methods you can use to sort out your photos. Sorting them out will keep your photos organized and your photo search an efficient process.

Find out which sorting style suits you best from the list below and get busy with getting your photos sorted. All these sorting methods apply to photos spanning many seasons, events and years.

1) Date
This is great if you have hundreds of photos or a huge backlog of photos that’ll be put on hold for sometime. You can sort your photos by year and break it down further by month. And that’s how I sorted mine.

It works very well if you scrapbook chronologically as you have all the photos sorted and figured out by dates.

Though I scrapbook randomly, this method still works for me. I find it quite easy to run through my two photo boxes and look at the photos sorted out by dates, and pull out the relevant photos I want to scrapbook about.

To help retain the information you can recall for your keepers, use an archival-safe photo pen to jot down notes at the back of the photos. Another way is to write down the pertinent information on Post-It notes and stick them to the back of photos.

2) Theme
Date order not important? Want the freedom to scrap on specific subjects whenever the mood strikes and have the relevant photos close at hand? Consider sorting your photos by themes such as family reunions, vacations, anniversaries, birthdays, outings, sports, friends, children and such.

This method is also fabulous if you intend to create theme albums later on, as you’ll already have all the photos sorted out by themes.

This method will make it a breeze to do a layout on the annual tradition of family reunions spanning a decade. You can also quickly reach for all the birthdays celebrated last year, and create a birthday layout to be displayed around the house.

Another good thing is you can keep coordinating embellishments related to that theme, take for example Halloween. So when you want to create several layouts on Halloween at once go, you’ll pull out the Halloween photos, the orange, purple and black cardstocks, Halloween patterned papers, stickers and diecuts and complete several Halloween layouts in one session.

3) Family Member
Do you often create layouts focusing on different family members? Then you can consider sorting your photos into individual groups that feature each family member prominently. Each individual pile of photos will include everyday and event photos that involved that family member.

Imagine you want to pay a tribute to your father’s career, you simply go to his pile of photos and pull out his career-related photos. When you want to scrapbook a layout on your daughter’s early growing up years, you know exactly where to grab her childhood photos from.

4) Album
This is quite similar to sorting by theme except you know exactly which album your photos go to. You can have individual albums covering different themes such as family, children, grandparents, vacations, holidays and such.

Sort your photos according to the album they’ll be appearing in. Make it even more organized by further breaking down the photo stacks into specific subjects for each album.


Ways to Store Your Photos

Now that you have your photos sorted, what’s next? You need to have them protected and stored away as you are unlikely to be scrapbooking all of them at once.

There’s several ways to store your sorted photos, pick one and get your sorted photos organized.

1) Photo Albums
The best part about putting your photos into photo albums is that others can view them right away. It’s a viewing-friendly format. Avoid the magnetic albums though as they might break down your photos over time

With photo albums, your family don’t have to wait till you turn the photos into layouts. It also reduces the pressure to be caught up with your scrapbooking. You know that even if you don’t scrapbook these photos, you still get to see the photos as often as you like.

2) Photo Boxes
I have two photo boxes where I slot all my photos in. Within the photo box, you can use index cards, envelopes or divider tabs to keep your photos categorized by date or subjects, depending on your earlier sorting method.

If you want photo boxes designed with scrapbooking in mind, you might want to take a look at this Cropper Hopper Photo Case.

3) Page Protectors and Big Envelopes
Store your photos in individual acid-free page protectors or envelopes. Along with the photos, you can include any journaling notes or memorabilia in each page protector or envelope.

The advantage? You can bring along the protector or envelope to the scrapbook store to shop for papers and embellishments. It’s a fantastic way to ensure well-coordinated layouts.

It’s also great if you attend a lot of crops and can just fill up the protector or envelope with all the elements you planned to create the layout with. Then you just grab the protectors or envelopes you’ll be needing and off you go.

To keep your filled protectors or envelopes organized, put them into an inexpensive three-ring binder where you can flip through and find the pack you want to scrapbook about.


With your new photo organization system now set in place, you need to maintain and keep it up-to-date! As soon as you print more new photos or bring back another batch from your developer, set aside some minutes to quickly sort and file them accordingly.

You’ll be pleased with how your small, consistent efforts pay off in more productive time for scrapping.

If you’re looking for photo storage solutions, click here.

Happy scrapping with your newly set up system!

2 comments for “Photo Organization

  1. Gisela
    July 5, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    Most helpful and very encouraging. I have struggled for a long time on how to sort my photos-biggest challenge is which system to use as I have started on a couple of different methods. Leaning towards having them in an album first.

    • Fion
      July 6, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      Hi Gisela,

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve found this article helpful! If you foresee that it will take you quite a long while to scrapbook most of your layouts, then having them in photo albums first is a great choice as it allows you and others to look through these photos instead of the photos being stored away, and hardly anyone reliving those precious moments. :)

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