Monday Mess . Photos (Digital + Prints)

I like taking pictures.  Here is what I don’t like, organizing the photos that I’ve taken.  And, unfortunately, this little unlike of mine applies to both the printed and digital picture.  The truth is, and likely with you too, I don’t print out as many pictures as I used to.  An while this makes for a bit less mess in my hands, I more than make up for it with all of my digital pictures that have happily cluttered up my computer and phone (confession : there are currently 1,023 photos on my iPhone at the moment).

A few months ago, I decided to take control of my digital life and organize my photos.  iPhoto was bogging down my computer and I could no longer take it.  I spent an entire week going through thousands and thousands of photos. I created a little system for myself to help stay on track after the initial clean up.


01. Bought an external hard drive  : Not so smart that I wasn’t already backing up my photos to an external hard drive but I wasn’t.  My brother in law told me he keeps a duplicate hard drive at another location just incase something ever happened to his back up.

02.  Said good bye to iPhoto : I like the way I can visually view images in iPhoto but other than that it drove me nuts (mostly slowing down my computer).  I now import my photos with Image Capture and it is a million times quicker – for reals.  I still have some photos in iPhoto that I reference but I’m finding I’m very rarely opening it these days.

03. Created a folder system : This is definitely a personal preference kind of thing but I broke it down by year and month.  Within each year folder there may also be folders titled by big events, “Christmas, 1st Birthday, Tucson Vacation and so on,” for easy access.  I now keep the current month folder on my desktop and when the month is finished I transfer it onto the hard drive.  I also, usually, keep a copy of the past month or two in a separate folder on my computer for quick reference.  And on a side note, I keep separate folders for my blogging photos.

04.  Became an instant editor : I’m talking about editing the actual photo itself  but rather editing out any photos that are unnecessary to keep.  After I import my photos, I try to quickly delete duplicates, bad shots or any photos I don’t want to save forever.  I don’t need 3 shots that are basically the same.

Now if you’re prints are a mess, then I’d recommend somewhat of the same thing.  Pick up some photo boxes like these (or these super organizy ones).  Then allocate a seperate box for each year or for each person in your family (this idea is great for kids because you can later pass on their box to them – sorting already done).

And if you find your self a photographer with no prints to show for your work, than I encourage you to get your hands on some of your lovely photos.


01. Print some of your Instagram shots.  I just ordered a bunch from Pinstagram (I’ll share more on that later).
02 . Get a Instax Mini (pictured above) a.k.a the modern day Polaroid.  It’s one of my fave things.  You can get one here.
03.  Find some old photos and arrange them in modern way.  I found these old square photos (above) from a trip to Europe that my mom took when she was 16.  I think I’m going to frame them or tack them up just like they are pictured.  I love the washed out look and I love even more that they are a special memory and have a story to tell.

What about you, dear reader, do you have any tried and true tips when it comes to photo organization?  Share along in the comments and lets get a conversation going!

 images / la la lovely




  • J.
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 7:24am

    You may want to consider hanging scanned copies of your mom’s Polaroids instead of the originals. The chemicals in Polaroids are unstable and will continue to degrade, a process accelerated by light exposure. Eventually, the pictures will be gone. Hanging copies and keeping the originals in a cool, dark place in acid free materials will slow that process.

  • Trina
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 10:25pm

    Good point! Thanks for the tip and comment! xo. trina

  • Noelle
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 12:19pm

    Wow, those photos your mom took are just beautiful. What a treasure to have! Framing them will be beautiful :) Can’t wait to see the result.

  • Trina
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 10:25pm

    Thanks, Noelle. I think the way they have aged has made them so pretty! And thanks for the tips on how you organize your photos. Always love learning from the pro! xo . trina

  • Noelle
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 12:22pm

    Oh, and as for photo organization–once I’m done editing them (personal photos, work stuff is archived differently), I have several folders such as Family, Travel, Events, Holidays, Etc… and then the photos go into separate folders in those folders. So if I’ve just edited photos from a birthday party, they go into a folder with that party’s name into the Events folder. If that makes sense. That way they are easy to find! :)

  • Tracey
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 6:19pm

    I’m totally coming back to this. Thanks. You have inspired me to do the same. I currently have 2567 on my iphone! eek.

  • Trina
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 10:24pm

    Of course! I’m wondering how you can keep that many on your iphone? I think last time I was a little over a thousand it wouldn’t let me take any more pictures? xo . trina

  • Britt
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 9:08pm

    Great post! I really need to sort/backup all the photos on my ipad. All my digital photos are on my external hard drives , but they don’t plug into iPads. I think the month/event system of organizing is probably the best for finding photos later.

    Would love to see what you think of pinstagram! I’m thinking of printing some of my BFF’s Instagram shots for Christmas and would love to see a review.

  • Trina
    Commented on November 5th, 2012 at 10:23pm

    That does make it tricky. Perhaps you can put them on some type of server like dropbox to transfer them to your computer and then put them on an external hard drive from there? I’ll keep everyone posted on my Pintagram order for sure :) xo. t

  • Savvy in San Francisco
    Commented on November 21st, 2012 at 10:12pm

    I’ve tried to use iPhoto, but it is so slow. I also can never figure out where they are on my hard drive when I try to upload them into Lightroom to edit. So now I just upload them through Lightroom. But I do like the visual of iPhoto!

  • Trina
    Commented on November 28th, 2012 at 8:09am

    if i’m honest i’m missing iphoto but still it is way to slow. xo . t

Leave a Reply

Get On The List

Join thousands of readers and receive Trina’s weekly letter: The Weekly Three.
3 things of note, along with encouragement and inspiration for your soul & everyday life.