Organize Your Photos Before Scrapbooking

Organize Your Photos Before Scrapbooking

Power Scrapbooking continues to sell so well at I thank everyone who has bought the book, shared a link, or recommended the book to others.

It’s a New Year and many folks are making goals and planning projects. As such I wanted to challenge you to set a goal that would support your scrapbooking or family history projects in the coming year.

Make 2015 the year you organize your photo collection.
Make 2015 the year you organize your photo collection.

A fantastic goal for this year would be to organize your photo collection. Even A Patient Genealogist who writes about organizing photos in each of her three books had a pile of loose photos that needed to be organized this year. Shocking, I know.

When I began reorganizing my photos, I had a few decisions to make:

  • How would I organize the photos of my family as a child, as a spouse/mother, and the historical photos?
  • Should I keep them in one box?
  • Should I lump them all together?
  • What do I do about photos that are of an extended family from the same years when I was a wife/mother but I wasn’t involved in?
  • How would I organize/store photos that do not fit into a standard photo storage box?
Grouping Photos by family (and incidentally color type)

These are all wonderful questions that FEW how-to articles address. So, I’ll share my thoughts and hope you can decide how you would handle these situations.

  • Generally speaking, I organized my photos chronologically.
  • I separate out photos into three ‘groups’
    • My photo collection as a child
    • My photo collection as a wife/mother
    • Extended family
      • My father’s line
      • My mother’s line
      • My husband’s line*
  • The above groups go into separate boxes (with the extended family sharing one box)
  • Over-sized photos go into a file folder when possible
As I was organizing photos, I came across loose papers that also needed to be filed. I will keep documents that fit in the photo box with the photos they apply to. For documents larger than the photo box, I placed them with the over-sided photos in applicable file folders.
Another thing to consider, that might cause much dispute, is whether to keep the ‘cases’ and covers for various photos and documents. For instance, should I keep the diploma holder and document, or discard the holder and keep just the paper? I opted for the document only as it would conserve space and be easier to file.
When you have your loose photos organized, determine if your photos albums are doing more harm to your photos than good. If the albums falling apart, the glue line albums (popular in the 70s), or are not acid-free, you’ll want to carefully remove your photos and file them into your organized photos.

Organizing Printed Photos
Sorting Photos by family, by year, and then by subtopic. More tips available
in any of my three books at

If you want more tips on organizing your photos, consider getting your own copy of my Power Scrapbooking eBook or my newest book Reimagine Family history.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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