Hands down. THE BEST THING I ever did with a carving of free time was to organize my photos.
Call me sentimental, but what I thoroughly expected would be a nightmare of a process ended up being one of the greatest experiences of my life. It gifted me with countless reminders of long forgotten memories that lifted my spirit in ways I didn't know I needed.
And now that my photos are organized, those incredible memories of experiences and loved ones now passed are right at my finger tips.
Whether you want to print your photos, or just want them organized so you can enjoy them (and take back some space on your phone) I have solutions for you (and my favorite products and app to get it done). I have linked my Amazon List of products below for easy shopping!
OPTION 1: If you want to take back control of your photos and your phone, this option is for you!
We won't be printing our photos in this option, but we will take a couple of simple steps to not only ensure your photos are safely backed up but organized as well.
1. First you will need to sort through the photos on your phone. Delete duplicates, blurry photos, and screen shots you no longer need.
2. Next is an optional step that will purely make things easier once you get these on your computer. Sort your photos into albums of various events or seasons (such as Summer 2019, or Hawaii Vacation 2013).
3. Now you will want to plug your phone into the computer! On the computer, open your phones storage folder, then select and drag all the folders to a Photo folder on your computer. If you want to keep these purely on your computer, then you are done! But if you want your photos safely backed up (I always suggest a backup other than the cloud!) then plug in your external hard drive and click and drag the photos over.
That's it! Your photos are backed up and ready to view at any time. Another huge benefit of doing this option is that if at any point you do want your photos printed you can easily access them to create an album on Shutterfly or another provider.
OPTION 2: If you are like me and you enjoy looking at your photos the old fashioned way, this option is for you!
Note: Before you start the steps for option 2, complete the steps outlined above for Option 1.
1. First things first, let's get these photos printed. To be honest, this is the step I dreaded when I tackled my photos but ended up enjoying this time the most. I was YEARS and YEARS behind on my photos organizing (we're talking all the way back to 1994), so I decided to narrow the photos I printed down to just favorites and big events. I downloaded an app on my phone called Free Prints that I love.
They make the process so easy. All you do is select the photos you want to print, choose the finish (matte or gloss), and choose the size. You receive 85 free photos a month and just pay for shipping! They will mail all your photos directly to your home within a week. When it comes to paying for prints, I have found this company still has the best value!
2. Once you get your photos, you have the option of writing details on the back. If that sounds like a lot you can also break up this task into bite sized chunks after they are organized. OR if you want to skip this step all together, you can move ahead to getting them organized! Remember, this should be the fun part.
Take your time here! YES, you are probably working with a somewhat ridiculous number of photos that feel overwhelming but remember that you can break the work into chunks to make it digestible. Enjoy looking through old memories! If you have kiddos, this is a really fun thing to get them involved in. For my husband and I, a fun date night in we both love is to enjoy a glass of wine and look back at old photos. Don't knock it til you try it!
3. The easiest method I found for organizing photos to place them in a photo box was organizing photos into piles by year (hint: it helps if you select them in this order when you are placing your print order). Once they are organized by year, organize each year into smaller piles by event or season, whatever makes the most sense to you!
4. Once you have done this, you are ready for the final and easiest step (after all this, you have EARNED IT!). This step will depend on which product you choose. I personally love using photo boxes versus plastic photo cases which restrict you to a certain number of photos per case. But this is totally your preference! You can also either just box your photos and be done, or box and add labels!
If you are using photo boxes, you will need 1/3 cut Smead 4"x6" dividers and a label maker (linked in my Amazon shopping list below for you!). You will label each tab for the years or event. I have noticed that one photo box typically holds about 5-10 years of photos depending on how many you print.
If you are using photo cases, you will just need the cases and a label maker as you will label each case itself! These typically hold 50 photos, depending on the product.
NOW YOU ARE DONE! You just organized potentially the most rewarding space you will ever organize in your life. It's like the gift that keeps on giving for years and years (and if you have kiddos, for generations to come!). I promise that now you are done, you will never once regret having taken this time to do this.