Are you one of those people who have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos in boxes in a closet or storage somewhere? If so, you’re in the right place to learn how to organize family photos.
We take photos to preserve memories of family members, friends, and special events throughout our lives. Therefore, finding the best way to organize new and old photos is important to keep them in good shape.
Old family photos can take up a lot of storage space, especially when you’re adding to them with every passing day.
These days, most of our new photos are digital images either saved on our phones or in social media photo albums.
What do we do with those digital versions to keep them safe? After all, what if something happens to our phones or social media accounts?
There are a variety of ways we can organize family photos for future generations. Let’s get into some ideas!
How to Organize Family Photos
Organizing family photos can be a very large job for some people.
Even with small families, you can have thousands of pictures of one child by the time they reach their first or second birthday. That’s not to mention parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone else in between.
A great tip from professional organizers is to leave your photo organization project last if you are organizing your whole house.
It’s easy to get distracted by family photos and organizing them can be a long-term project. You’ll want to get other, easier projects out of the way first.
The first step in getting your family photos organized is to think about what you want to accomplish with this task.
If you don’t know what you want to be able to do with your family photos, you’ll have a hard time deciding how to organize them. Or you might spend a long time organizing only to find out you should have taken a different approach.
Do you want to be able to view these photos regularly?
If you want to be able to go back and look through your family history on a regular basis, a family photo album (or many albums) would be your best approach.
Ideally, if you have someplace convenient to keep a number of albums, you can organize them by family units within your entire family. Then, label them so you know what is in each album.
Another option for displaying family photos is to scan all of your photos and have them made into a photo book.
This option may be something you want to do with specific family photos. Considering it could get pretty pricey if you have a large number of photos, you may not want to use all of them.
Photo books may be something that you want to do with all of your new photos going forward in order to keep them organized for the future.
You could opt to make photo books out of the best photos from within your family, or a special event throughout the years. For example, a family reunion or all of the weddings in your close family.
Photo albums and photo books are a nice thing to keep out to reminisce now and then.
Do you want to share these photos with the rest of your family?
If you have family photos that your parents handed down to you, and you want to share them with your siblings or cousins, you can make a digital photo collection.
These photo files can be saved on a flash drive for each family member.
A flash drive might be a good idea to do in conjunction with whatever form of photo storage you decide to use.
As you’re putting the photos in albums you can scan them before you put them in their place in the album.
You may also want to consider choosing specific photos as you organize to have photo books made for family members.
This would be a great gift idea for anyone in your family. You could include a flash drive with all of the other family photos you’ve scanned on it to complete their collection.
Do you want to preserve your family photos?
Use archival storage boxes to store family photos and preserve them well.
You can still organize the photos within the boxes, or you can just arrange them neatly and carefully so they don’t get damaged.
Within these different options for organizing family photos, you can arrange all of the photos by family units within your family, years, locations, events, or a combination of any of these.
These boxes, which we’ll highlight below, make organizing photos an easy task.
Preserving Family Memories
While you’re organizing all of your family photos, make notes on the back of each photo of the year, location, who is in the picture, the specific event, etc.
As you hand down photos through generations, this is one of the most important things to have done. If you do this, memories can be more easily recalled as time goes on.
By preserving photos, new generations can learn about family members they never got to meet.
Preserving your family’s history is the main reason you keep old photographs throughout the years. No matter how you store them or organize them, the simple task of making a note on the back of the photo will make the biggest difference in the future.
Products to Organize Family Photos
There are plenty of different options for products to store physical photos in.
Which type of product you choose will depend on how organized you want to be.
You don’t even have to buy organizers if you’re happy with a system of something like old shoe boxes. If you want a little more organized way to store photos, or you want to be able to store your photos in a garage, attic, or storage building, check out these storage options.
Cardboard boxes are not advised for storage that is not temperature controlled.
Photo Storage Craft Keeper
Photo storage boxes are great for organizing photos into categories within a storage box.
Each box has 16 4×6 cases that hold 100 photos each. The individual cases snap closed and the container itself also snaps closed.
This is a great storage method to not only organize your photos, but also to protect them from moisture and damage.
These photo boxes stack well and have handles to easily move and carry the boxes.
They are hard plastic which makes them a good option for storage in a place like an attic or garage.
Each individual case inside the storage box can be labeled for it’s category or specific contents. You could use a simple label maker to attach a label to the lid of the box.
12 Pack: Black Photo Storage Box
These photo storage boxes are good for inside storage like in a closet or under your bed.
These boxes are made of paper board, so you’ll want to keep them in a humidity controlled space to preserve the boxes and the photos inside.
Each box has a customizable label and a lid. You can use one box per category, such as a year in each box.
DocSafe Fireproof Document Box
Using a fireproof box for photos is a great way to ensure the safety of your family photos no matter where they are stored.
These boxes are made specifically for storing photos, but they can still work.
Use the hanging file folders to separate by categories, and use basic sleeves or even plastic zip lock bags to store your photos in each category.
This storage box is also water resistant so it should be a good storage option for attics, garages, or even storage units.
Kolo Havana Photo Storage Box
The Havana storage boxes are a great option for your collection of photo books as you have them made. They can be used for any kind of photo storage.
If you want to keep your photo books handy to share with people regularly, or just to look at yourself, these boxes are pretty enough to sit out. They can be a part of your decor in your living room or bedroom.
Acid-Free Crystal Clear Sleeves Storage Bags
These clear sleeve storage bags are great for organizing photos before putting them into storage containers.
Acid-free products help preserve the photos. Alternatively, each category you are organizing could be put into a manila envelope to keep them separate.
Plastic Storage Bin Tote Organizing Container
The classic plastic storage bins like these might be what your old family photos are already in – and they’re a mess.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still use these bins to organize. All you need is some system to organize within these larger totes.
You can use the clear sleeve storage bags above, manilla envelopes, or smaller boxes that stack inside the tote.
These totes make it possible for you to store your family photos in places like the attic, garage, or storage unit without being damaged.
Photo Album 4×6 1200 Pockets Photos
If you want to put all of your family photos into albums to display in your home, you can choose one of these large capacity photo albums.
This way, you don’t have to have so many separate albums.
Acid free albums like this one will protect your photos and keeping them in your temperature controlled home will further protect them. This album holds 1200 photos with 4×6 pockets that the photos are slid into.
Photo Album Self Stick, 50 Pages
This photo album is a little smaller, but it has self stick pages that offer more of a scrapbook layout.
You can add different shapes and sizes of photos more easily to self stick pages. Fit a large number of photos in this album and arrange them anyway you like.
How to Store Digital Photos
There are a variety of ways to store digital photos.
The most popular way these days is to save them in an online drive.
This may be safe, but if you’re worried that something could happen to them at some point, you probably want to have a more secure method of digital photo storage.
Secure Photo Storage Site
There are many popular photo storage sites available to store your digital photos online.
If you’re not totally convinced that nothing could ever happen to your photos on one of these sites or apps, there are other options that we’ll talk about next.
If you feel good about photo storage sites, let’s talk about the benefits.
Some of the most popular photo sharing and storage sites include:
- Google Photos
Photo storage sites usually have an app that you can download on your phone.
Since most of us take photos almost strictly with our phones, many special family photos are saved there.
A photo storage site app on your phone will automatically upload the photos from your camera roll. You can likely change to setting to save automatically or on demand.
You can delete photos from your phone to free up space. And, with an app, you never lose the photos if something happens to your phone.
Another benefit of this type of storage is the sharing options.
Share your albums on these sites with your family or friends. You can create and share specific albums but keep others private. It’s a great way to organize new family photos.
You can send some to print directly from your online storage site if you want to.
External Hard Drive
Many of us rely on photo storage sites. However, some people feel more comfortable with the photos saved somewhere more tangible.
There is no 100% guarantee that your digital photos will not be lost. No matter what storage option you choose, you run that risk.
Technology is not perfect, but an external hard drive is probably the most secure option you’ll find for digital photos.
External hard drives can be purchased in different sizes. Files can also be moved from one external hard drive to another. They can also be connected to your phone or computer to transfer photos and other important files.
In order to keep an external hard drive safe and working, it should be kept out of extreme temperatures.
It’s best to store external hard drives inside of your home. This way, the temperature is controlled, and the photos are out of direct sunlight.
A flash drive is just like an external hard drive, but it’s typically much smaller and less reliable functionally.
A flash drive is a good option to give a file of photos to someone in your family. This is especially true if they plan to transfer them to something more reliable.
Flash drives, however, are not a good longterm storage solution. Flash drives should also be kept out of extreme temperatures or direct sunlight.
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