Organized photos by March 15

It used to be that you had to remember to tote along your camera when you wanted to snap a few memories, but now with everything from smart phones to Flip cameras allowing you to snap photos, you can leave the Polaroid at home and still have memories. Of course, when is the last time you downloaded, sorted, printed, and categorized those photos? If getting your memories up to snuff was one of your New Year’s resolutions, we have a few tips for fitting it in and figuring it all out. Say hello to organized photos in a snap!

1. What is Your Goal?

It comes down to the electronic vs. paper argument. Do you want photo albums or printed pictures for framing or are you more of an electronic photo keeper? Organizing your photos is not really a goal – it’s too huge and ill-defined. Pick a project goal, such as putting together a scrapbook for your child by a certain date. Be as specific as you can about the outcome and give yourself a date by which it must be completed.

2. Take Stock of What You Have.

Knowing what you have and what you are tackling is the first step. Digital photos haven’t been around forever, so if you’re over the age of 30, dig out those boxes or albums from college. You might just have boxes and boxes filled with envelopes from the local photo store.

3. Determine Your Method of Categorizing.

Create a method of classification and stick to it. One good way to classify is by year, another by event. Certain software, like Apple’s iPhoto, also makes it very easy to categorize by certain people. It doesn’t matter how you organize them, just that you do it and you’ll know how to find things you want.

4. Ready the Tools.

If you’re going the old school route, make sure you get albums and photo boxes to organize your prints. Exposures (online at and via catalogs) has hundreds of terrific photo organizing and showcasing tools that aren’t too expensive. If you’re going the electronic route, sites like Shutterfly and iPhoto will be your best friend.

5. Take the Time and Start Small.

No matter how big your end goal, all are reached by taking a series of small and consistent steps towards completion. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can accomplish a major photo project, like making a scrapbook, in one day. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed and burn out. Take a few minutes before you dive in to outline a series of small milestones that you can go after, ten minutes here and ten minutes there. Once you’ve accomplished one milestone, start another and move on. Pretty soon those milestones start stacking on top of one another and you accomplish big things.

How long has it been since you last organized your photos? Do you prefer to keep your memories virtually or on paper? Why? What additional tips would you suggest to get the photos wrangled?