How I organize my digital photos

I've had a few evenings to spend with my computer this week and I've been working on organizing and editing my 2015 photos.

I've been woefully behind on this and haven't even sorted all our Europe photos until now. Yikes! I'm happy to report that I've made a lot of progress though and should be caught up soon. 

Note - that doesn't mean that I'm caught up on all my photo organization. Just trying to focus on keeping the current year under control. I do have the years 2011-2014 in order. Want to see an example?

Here's my approach:

  • On my external hard drive, I have a folder labeled photos. In that photos folder, I have a subfolder for each calendar year. In each yearly folder, there are subfolders for each month in the year.


  • In each yearly folder, I also have subfolders for misc. scanned items, photobook/scrapbook layouts, and videos all relating to that calendar year. I'll post more about how I organize my photobook/scrapbook layouts soon.


  • Each yearly folder also contains a word backup file of my private family blog entries that I will use for journaling on layouts and as a record for that year. If I had other memory related documents relevant to that year, I would also store them in that file.


  • All of the photo files are backed up on Flickr because I can download full size resolution copies of any photo at any time. I also store a backup of my jpeg copies of my scrapbook/photobook layouts since they are just bigger photos. Flickr offers 1 TB storage for free! I still have a pro account (these are no longer offered) because I paid for two years of the pro level before they discontinued that program. I have not found any other photo storage site that offers as much as Flickr does. And it's now free! If you aren't taking advantage of this, you need to!


  • All of my yearly folders (at least for 2011-2015- still working on the rest) are also backed up in my Dropbox account because I pay for the 1 TB pro option which is $10 a month of $99 a year if you pay annually. Why do I also use Dropbox when I have Flickr? Because you can store everything in Dropbox from word files, TIF files, photos, videos, etc. And it's super easy to access anything in Dropbox from my phone or tablet if I want to make collages or digiscrap with apps like the Project Life app. I can also share folders with family members and easily transfer photos and files to them. It's like having another 1 TB hard drive that is in the cloud and always available as long as I have an internet connection. Be sure to read my post on why I don't sync my Dropbox files!


  • I have to admit that I've struggled mightily to get my icloud syncing the way it should. I've been frustrated with trying to get all my photos on all my devices and to feel confident that they are being backed up. Usually, I can figure stuff like this out - but it seems like Apple keeps changing the rules. So I finally just turned on the camera roll auto upload feature in Flickr (still in beta) and now my photos are always being sent to Flickr - and I keep them private if I want to - which I do. 


  • Finally, since I believe in at least having two backups of everything, I'm now using the auto upload feature of Dropbox that I found out about from my friend Steph. I love having an app do the work for me!


These are the basics of my system. I've thought about teaching an online class, but it's really not on my list of things that I'm dying to do. Plus, it's really not all that complicated. Just store your photos in a logical manner and make sure that system is duplicated in a few places. I recommend using an external hard drive AND at least one offsite backup. External hard drives will fail. Computers will crash. 

Questions you might have that I plan to address in posts next week:



Anything else you are wondering about? Remember, this isn't an in-depth class or anything and I don't know all the answers. I do have a system that has worked for me for a really long time though and I'm hoping it will help some of you as well!