Organizing my most cherished possessions: Pictures

If you had to leave your house suddenly and could only grab one possession, what would it be? The common answer is photographs (aside from family members and pets, of course).

I hope that I am never faced with that dilemma, but if I was, I found it unacceptable that, thanks to organization inspiration from Pinterest and months of nesting, I would know exactly where to grab the hand towels and brown sugar but wouldn’t even know where to begin for my pictures. My pictures are everywhere: albums, frames, phone, storage containers, Facebook, and flash drives. I needed to dedicate the same effort to organizing my pictures as I did to my laundry room and pantry. Especially now that another life is depending on me to document it.

Below is how I got organized for day forward (older pictures will have to wait until I come up with a plan for them).

  1. Organize the digital mess: Previously, I would save pictures in a folder consistent with its Facebook album name. However, I don’t post all my pictures to Facebook (even less so lately), so this naming convention wasn’t sufficient. After moving the pictures worth keeping from my phone to our computer (via email), I created very specific folder names (event, date, etc.), so I could easily locate pictures when needed.
  2. Clean up: As difficult as it was, I deleted all the “so-so” pictures. I decided that it was better to have a small number of quality pictures than dozens of average ones.
  3. Create the album: I dabbled in scrapbooking in high school and college, and while I appreciate the time and effort that goes into making one (a few of my best friends are scrapbooking experts and have beautiful books to show for it), it’s just not realistic for me.
    Custom Path by Shutterfly

    I opt to archive my pictures in a photo book. I created a few photo books in the past using Shutterfly but fell behind. Thanks to a LivingSocial deal for 60% off an 8×11 photo book, I revisited the site and was pleasantly surprised to find that they recently upgraded the experience with a new tool called “Custom Path” that offers thousands of digital scrapbooking assets: themes, pages of all colors and patterns, fonts, stickers, frames, etc. It’s just like scrapbooking without the add-up-quickly costs for embellishments and mess to clean up.

    I created my first photo book using the new tool to share the story of Bridget and absolutely love how it turned out. I am already onto the next one.

    Tip: Since May, Shutterfly has offered two LivingSocial deals for the Cleveland area. A hard cover, 20-page full color photo book is regularly $34.99 plus shipping. The deal is $14 and the only additional cost is $8.99 for shipping. I encourage you to sign up if you haven’t already.

  4. Associate the album with the digital files: The size of the photo book is great for a coffee table to share with guests or a bookshelf to have on hand for reminiscing. But then I thought about what I would do when Bridget’s class is hosting a “Guess the classmate by their baby picture” game. How would I get a physical copy of a picture without cutting it out of the book or “digging” through folders of pictures on a computer we may no longer have? (Yes, these are the type of questions that go through my mind.) So, I transferred all of the digital files that were used to create the photo book to a flash drive. Again, because I named the folders very specifically and only kept the pictures worth putting in the photo book, this was quite simple. I then put a small label sticker in the back of the photo book with a number and put the same numbered label on the flash drive to associate one with the other.
  5. Secure the pictures: Finally, I store the flash drives in a fire safe box for safe keeping.

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