What’s Your Story? Organizing Pictures

What’s Your Story? Organizing Pictures

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What’s Your Story?

Generation Y (The Millennials) and Generation Z are the most photographed people in history. Yet, these individuals see their pictures the least in the context of their life history. Why? Because everyone takes millions of images that remain in their iPhones forever without proper backup, rhyme, or theme. Therefore, what’s your story? Let’s discover this by organizing pictures.


Many people struggle with clutter and find loose pictures from years past, gathering dust, disorganized, among many unrelated documents, or stacked in plastic bags in the most unimaginable places.

But knowing our life stories and family history gives us resilience and enhances our self-esteem. Pictures tell our stories. Pictures are important. We need to provide those photographs with the respect and importance they deserve.

Let’s Begin

But how do we reconcile the forgotten past (printed pictures in plastic bags) with the high-speed present (images hidden in our iPhones) to make them come alive and tell our stories? First, we need to organize the pictures!

So, here’s a detailed guide for you to organize all your pictures. Let’s begin.

Photo organizing | Picture organization

1. Gather all print pictures

Find these pictures around the house, office, car, and relative’s homes. You should undergo a thorough home organization process of your home to start (this is how we find most pictures!).

Remember to round up all those old photo albums and scrapbooks. Photo albums are rarely ever complete or coherent. Include all your framed prints displayed and hidden in closets and drawers. Gather them all.

2. Remove prints from frames and photo albums

Remove all those pictures from albums and scrapbooks because those hard copies might be the only ones. You should use a product like Un-Du to ensure album page glue does not ruin the pictures while removing these.

Remove all pictures from their frames. Let these frames go by donating or discarding them. Place all empty frames you wish to keep in a box or bin. This box shall live wherever you keep additional home décor items. A hallway closet is an excellent place to store these things. Removing pictures from frames and merging those pictures with the others allows you to effectively preserve them without the added bulk of these frames that probably do not work for your space any longer and in the context of the story you are telling.

Consider that once your pictures are safe in digital form, you can easily decide what images might enhance your walls or surfaces. Then, you can choose the best sizes to print those pictures and get a similar collection of frames compatible with your home décor and the picture grouping. In the meantime, your goal is to have all your pictures safe in digital form and a chronological context.

Old framed pictures | Picture organizing3. Sort pictures by year

Gather all those loose pictures and classify them by year (and, if possible, month). If it is impossible to pinpoint the year, start with a decade. Then, after establishing the chronological order, sort them by event if this is an important criterion.

4. Store pictures in bags

Divide and store pictures in plastic bags (for the moment, plastic is not suitable for photos in the long term) and place your labeled bags (with the year) in a bin or a box that will ONLY contain pictures grouped in this way.

5. Digitize all prints

Photos are an essential category to digitize. Having all pictures in digital form has the following benefits.

  • To have all of your images in one single format so that they can complete the story
  • To enhance and repair pictures
  • To use the photos in projects such as crafts, photo books, and scrapbooks, imprint them on mugs, blankets, or other gifts.
  • To intentionally select images to display at home or office 
  • To control the size and format to show your enhanced pictures
  • To change your display as often as you like
  • To share all of your images online with everyone 

So, create electronic folders in your computer according to the year, event, family, or person – Whichever makes sense. But these files will be the framework of your project.

To digitize your pictures, you may get the equipment to do this yourself, send your photos to one of the many companies that offer the service, or contact a Professional Organizer to help you. Some organizers belong to the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO).

6. Evaluate photo editing needs

At this point in the process, you should evaluate if any of your print pictures should undergo a restoration process or other kinds of editing.
For simple editing, you should get one of the many software programs available, such as Adobe Photoshop, Mylio, Forever, Historian, Google Photos, Flickr, and Shutterfly.

However, if your pictures need restoration, you should contact a member of APPO. They will be sure to help with this. But, more importantly, they will offer a white glove, a personal experience you won’t find anywhere else.

7. Other media to digitizeWhat's Your Story? Organizing Pictures

If you find videos, reels, negatives, and slides while searching for all your scattered, loose-print pictures, you also want to digitize them! In this case, you need professional help.

You can also opt to use the services of companies that will convert all that media into digital files and return that along with the original material. Just Google the service you need, and many options will show up.

In my case, I had to scan pictures and slides. I bought a $30 “contraption” (LOL – love that word!) to stabilize the iPhone and slides. I also purchased a $29 app (Photomyne) to scan and optimize these slides. The process was time-consuming but straightforward.

8. Combine them all!

Combine the photos from all digital sources (iPads, iPods, iPhones, Tablets, laptops, and others) with your scanned images (prints scanned). Remember pictures in Shutterfly, iCloud, and other places where you might have shared photos.

9. Back up the mess!

Yes, you want to back up all that mess before organizing it. You do not want to risk losing any of it.

10. Organize the new digital collection

Once all your pictures are in digital format, it is time to prepare digital folders by year and month within each year (or whatever criteria you wish to use) to organize all those pictures.

11. Eliminate duplicates

You might expect to find several copies of the same digital pictures. Some apps that simplify removing duplicates are Duplicate Photos Fixer ProQuick Photo Finder for Windows, and Duplicate Sweeper.

12. Rename photos in a consistent manner

Rename all pictures in your digital file once prints have been scanned and merged with your other digital images. You want to have the images free of duplicates before you rename them. 

Consistency is the name of the game to rename the pictures coherently. Here are some examples of ways to rename the collections: 

  • YYY-MM-DD-Event
  • Event-YYY-MM-DD
  • Surname-Last Name, First Name

13. Backup again

Avoid losing your life story by employing two or more backup systems for the pictures once these are organized. The most common photo backup systems are external hard drives and the Cloud.

Photo Organization by My Space Reclaimed, LLC

14. Discard original prints (wait, what?)

Yes! Once the process is complete, you can discard the prints. When you digitize your print pictures and toss originals, you recover all the space these take. You can let printed photos go by sending some to others appearing in the images, such as friends or family members with an interest in them.

Okay, this is the Organizer speaking. Experts in photo preservation and photo organization will tell you how you can (and should) preserve your print pictures. Their information is extensive. I will limit myself to saying that if you wish to keep your print pictures, consider two things:

  • Your entire collection comprises the print photos (now digital) and the pictures initially in digital format. Preserving the prints will only tell part of the story. The complete story lives in your newly created digital collection.
  • Use special acid-free, lignin-free, archival-safe, and photo-safe boxes to preserve your prints adequately.
  • Should you create photo albums or scrapbooks, use copies of the prints so the originals remain safe in the specialty boxes. Although a better alternative would be to create photo books, you only need the digital photos, and you can include comments and narratives that help tell the story much better.

15. Have a system moving forward

From this point on, have a system designed to quickly, efficiently, and systematically incorporate all new pictures taken (let’s say, every month) into your primary digital collection, adequately labeled, following the rest of the collection’s scheme. Digitize print pictures as soon as possible. For a one-time scanning of an image or two, any average printer these days might get the job done. Avoid gaps in your story!

Happy Storytelling!

The digitizing process can be daunting and the organizing part even more, especially if you lack time. The Association of Personal Photo Organizers can help! In addition, some Professional Organizers specialize in picture organization.


Organizing Mementos: The Warm & Fuzzy

Organizing Mementos: The Warm & Fuzzy

The Warm & Fuzzy Stuff

Mementos, or “warm & fuzzy” stuff, as I call them, are items that evoke fond memories. They are usually those things that can make us laugh or cry happy tears when we see them. And no matter what we call it, we all have some. It is necessary to streamline the collection so it makes sense and tells a story.

No matter how ruthless you become at minimizing and organizing, there will be a few items you can’t let go of, even when you have a digital record of them. You need to touch, smell, and see it in person, or the memory is not there. In some cases, we are not ready to part with some items. Maybe we never will.

I recommend getting a special box for those things. This box should be a beautiful, high-quality box, bin, or basket with a lid or a cover. It will contain those items that are so special to you.

The box should live in a private space like a shelf in your closet, under the bed, or in your home office.

Not Everything Is Warm & Fuzzy Material

You should probably scan or photograph the things that don’t make it to your “Warm & Fuzzy” box to preserve a digital memory. I discuss these processes in my blog “Organizing Kids’ Memories.” When you maintain a digital image, you keep the memory but not the clutter.

However, as said before, when dealing with your mementos, you will find a few items for which a digital record would never do. These are the items we are referring to.

Keep a minimal number of treasures in your warm & fuzzy collection. Otherwise, if everything seems important, then nothing is. The moments and memories in our lives are most important, not the things. So, carefully choose the items that best represent your most significant moments in life.

The collection is manageable when you become discriminatory with your “warm & fuzzy” collection. It should be a sampling of happy memories that make you smile, not an overwhelming heap of stuff you’d rather avoid.


Organizing memorabilia refers to managing mementos you keep for their emotional value, but they are dispersed around your home and stowed away in drawers or closets. We want to gather these together and assign them a good home in your life and heart.

Memorabilia items of high monetary value or related to famous people, like sports players, antiques, and the like, should have a place of honor in your home so they are displayed and enjoyed. However, this type of memorabilia is a different story.

Should you have this type of treasure, you need to find a way to incorporate it into your home’s overall concept. Things like shadow boxes and glass displays come to mind.

There is an infinite number of options to honor your high-priced memorabilia! Just look into Pinterest and knock yourself out!

Having a neutral party help you with organizing your mementos or memorabilia is of great value. Handling these items might be an intense emotional rollercoaster, and you might avoid the issue altogether. 

Also, it might seem like a giant ball of yarn or a group of tangled wire hangers before it gets appropriately organized. It takes some patience and skill to untangle it all.

If this is your case, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to help you. We can laugh and cry together about this, but I promise to make it more fun than you ever imagined.