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Organizing Family Photos in 8 Easy Steps

Next month, my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I would have to say a good portions of those 25 years – 15 at least were recorded via the old-fashioned kind of camera. The kind of camera that resulted in boxes and boxes of pictures.

I was a working mother for 20 of those 25 years, days came and went and life marched on and those pictures continued to pile up. I always had big ideas, and some of the best intentions but never a plan or quite frankly the time.

What do I have to show for those 25 years? ( besides a wonderful husband and two brilliant daughters)


That’s right, I am embarrassed. This is my family’s history. I have pictures of my ancestors that I have carefully scanned and catalogued and backed-up and filed. But my own family history, my precious pictures of 25 years of marriage, my children growing up, pictures of some are our most special days are piled in totes, no order, no care, just chaos.

I will be the first to ewww and ahhh over a wonderfully preserved picture of an ancestor, what a treasure…and yet aren’t my pictures treasures? Won’t my grandchildren and great-grandchildren be thrilled to have these pictures? It’s time to get busy.

I know I am not alone. I also no I needed a plan, one I could fit into my busy schedule. I know I don’t have a 9-5 job anymore but there is this little thing called a blog and this big thing called family history that keeps me pretty busy.

So when this handy gadget call the Flip-Pal entered my life, I knew I now had the tool to get this job done once and for all.

Here’s the plan I’m following to get my picture dilemma under control.

Step 1 - I grabbed a small picture box, one I had floating around the house with the full intention of using but never got around to it. I transferred some pictures from the totes into this box.

Step 2 – Here’s the big tip- as the armchair genealogist that I am, I keep this small box picture with my Flip-Pal beside my armchair. The rule is when I finally sit down in the evening to watch TV, I must be scanning these pictures. The pictures stay handy but don’t look like my office is spilling out into the family room.

Step 3 - I also have beside me a package of  81/2 x 11 envelopes. I am putting the pictures into the envelopes by the year after they are scanned on the Flip-Pal. So one envelope for every year of my marriage. Mark the envelope clearly. (Yeah, I know you may have to estimate on some of those pictures if you didn’t label them way back when.)

Step 4 - Scan the picture with your Flip-Pal. Trust me this little guy will be your new best friend. When you have scanned all the pictures in your small box, refill it from the bigger box. Rinse and repeat until all pictures are scanned.

Step 5 – Label the picture on the back, insert the picture into the envelope for the proper year. At this time you can make a note on the envelope regarding any specifics of the pictures such as birthdays, vacations, special events etc. 

Step 6- Toss out those blurred unidentifiable pictures and  multiple copies. I know it’s hard you paid could money for them.

Step 7 - Now set up a filing system on your computer to store your digital photos. Follow the same procedure as you did for the hard copy. File them by year, then within each year separate file folders for events. Back these up to CDs or a USB drive or both.

Step 8 –Purchase some beautiful photo boxes.( I am still shopping for those) Once you have found them, each envelope will go into the photo box with the year marked on it.

Here’s a Bonus Idea

I am creating photo books for my daughters, one to be given to them every birthday. Each book a different theme, such as birthdays, dancing, Christmas, until I have created multiple volumes of picture books chronicling their lives.

Hope this helps you to get your pictures organized. I will keep you posted on my progress.