Photo Organizing Tips From An Expert

Stack of PhotosA surprising number of awesome DocumentSnap readers write me and ask for photo scanning and organizing advice.

A look at my iPhoto library will tell you that I am absolutely not the person to ask about this subject, but as luck would have it I went to the annual conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers in New Orleans last year and met Christie Gelsomino. When I found out she is both a Professional Organizer and a Certified Personal Photo Organizer, I begged her for her card. Little did she know I’d be bugging her for advice someday, and today is that day.

I asked Christie for photo scanning and photo organizing tips.

What equipment do you need to scan in your photos?

FlipPal (portable to take to clients), Kodak upright (large projects), Canon and/or Epson (flat bed scanning).

The best resolution to scan at is at least 600 dpi.

Is it better to use a scanning service? Any recommendations?

The scanning services are good to use as well, if you just don’t have the time or the equipment. I use them for larger projects and for a faster turn around time then what I might be available to do for my clients.

Fotobridge in NJ, ScanDigital in CA. No company that will then send your photos overseas to be scanned. Keep your photos in the USA.

Brooks note: Obviously this applies if you are in the USA to start with. If you know a comparable service in your country, please let us know in the comments.

What are some tips for organizing physical photos?

  1. Know your goal for the completed project. Break that goal into smaller goals. Stay focused. Get help.
  2. Gather all the physical photos into one general location of the house.
  3. Created a timeline of events/people/yearly activities to help label the photos.
  4. Group by theme or by date or a combination of both.
  5. It’s ok to TRASH bad pictures.
  6. Become a detective with the photos to find the clues that you need.
  7. Use archival, photo and lignin free products to store your photos. Albums or photo boxes.
  8. Use post-it notes and archival safe writing tools to make notes with your photos.
  9. Scan the physical photos as a “back up”, not to get rid of the physical photos. Consider the physical photos a form of a back-up.
  10. Share the photos, create gifts, display your organized photos and tell the stories that go with the photos.

What are some tips for organizing digital photos?

  1. Know your goal for the completed project. Break that goal into smaller goals. Stay focused. Get help.
  2. Gather all the digital photos into one general location. Computers, memory cards, devices etc…
  3. Create a timeline of events/people/yearly activities to help label the photos.
  4. BACK-UP first before starting your digital photo organizing, then BACK-UP again at the end of the work session. PictureKeeper is great for this.
  5. It’s ok to DELETE bad pictures.
  6. Group by theme or by date or a combination of both. Use the Number system 1.2.3 to label the files. ex. 1 January 2014
  7. Use the provided software that is already on your computer (PC: Picture Viewer, Mac: iPhoto).
  8. Additional software: Picasa, Shutterfly, Flickr, Photoshop/Lightroom, Panstoria.
  9. PRINT some of your best digital photos not just to share but to also have them as a back-up.
  10. Share the photos, create gifts, display your organized photos (digital photo frame) and tell the stories that go with the photos.

Any additional information you’d like to share?

Get Film Reels, VHS tapes, Slides and Negatives transferred to DVD’s, CD’s or a Hard Drive so you can view these great stories.

Keep the originals because we don’t know how long DVD’s, CD’s or a Hard Drive can last. VHS tapes are an exception, they are already deteriorating.

Thanks so much Christie! If you have additional photo tips or questions for Christie, please leave them in the comments.

Christie Gelsomino is the owner and operator of Vision to be Organized (2006) and Scrapbook Designer (2003). She is a Professional Organizer, a Certified Personal Photo Organizer, a Certified Home Movie Expert and a Personal Scrapbook Designer. Christie is a NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) National Member, a NAPO Los Angeles Chapter Member and a NAPO Virtual Chapter Member. Christie serves currently as the Marketing Director for the NAPO-LA Chapter, has been the Chapter Historian for the NAPO-LA Chapter since 2007 and is on the Professional Development Committee for the NAPO Virtual Chapter since 2012, she is also a NAPO Golden Circle member and a member of the NAPO Technology Sig. Christie is also a member of APPO (Association of Personal Photo Organizers) as a Certified Personal Photo Organizer. Christie has assisted as a Professional Organizer on the A&E show “Hoarders.” Christie focuses her organizing business on residential organizing while specializing in photo organizing.

(Photo by Alex)

3 Responses to “Photo Organizing Tips From An Expert”

  1. Sassy April 3, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I’ve done some major photo organizing over the years and a ping pong table surface is really, really helpful for sorting physical photos — especially if you can close it off from kids and pets ;-)

    • Brooks Duncan April 3, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      Hah. Great tip Sassy. Maybe I can use that to convince my wife I need one.

  2. Sassy April 3, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Oh, and I suggest having some envelopes handy: if you don’t want to keep all those extra pictures from someone’s wedding or birthday party or if you have duplicates, toss them in envelopes so when you are done, you have a nice little surprise to send some folks — friends who have done their photo albums have sent me prints from my wedding, of my kids when they were small and such: it’s a great piece of mail to open and you don’t have to feel bad about tossing those photos or keeping more than you need.

Leave a Reply