Power Scrapbooking: Organizing Photos in Photoshop Elements

Heritage Scrapbook Cover for a Father #scrapbooking #bluegreentheme

Why create a personal or family history scrapbook? I have answered that before in a post entitled Why create a  family history scrapbook?  I have also used scrapbooks to Gain Access to Other People’s Stuff. I hope you’ll review posts for more inspiration.

Heritage Scrapbook Cover for a Father #scrapbooking #bluegreentheme
Cover of my father’s heritage scrapbook

Now that we’ve reviewed why I want to begin showing you how I Power Scrapbook and  Family History Scrapbooking Simplified using Photoshop Elements (PSE).

Optional Step: Organize in Windows Explorer

Being organized before jumping into a project pays off in efficiency… hence the term Power Scrapbooking. Being organized is an ongoing process, but you can start that process today.

How to organize the pictures in a photo box for family history purposes
Organize the original images

Before I organize my files in Photoshop Elements, I have to digitize them with a scanner or by photographing them. I have written before about how I organize the photos into batches for scanning or the memorabilia into piles for photography.

Use a flatbed scanner to digitize your mounds of family photos and documents. #preservation #genealogy
After organizing the photos, it’s time to digitize!

Once my photos and memorabilia are organized, then I use Windows Explorer to organize these images electronically. I have written about this in previous posts entitled Keep the Story and Photos Together (Part 1 and Part 2).

Organize Digital Photos by Folders
Files Organized in Windows Explorer

You do not need to do this as Photoshop Elements has a tandem program called Photoshop Elements Organizer that can organize your photos on your hard drive. I like to pre-sort my photos into files by year and month, which I have written about before. Then load these folders into PSE.

Sort through digital photos with Windows Photo Viewer
Using Windows Photo Viewer to Accept or Reject Photos. Only click on
the red “X” if it’s a truly bad photo.

After sorting my photos chronologically, I use the Windows Photo Viewer which opens up when you double-click on a photo in Windows Explorer. I will use the forward and back arrows in the Photo Viewer to look at each photo. If the photo is unintentionally blurry or a definite reject, I will delete them immediately.

Again, you do not necessarily need to do this step. I do not like to bloat my PSE Organizer with photos that will definitely not make the cut. So… if you have iPhoto or Windows Explorer, preview the photos and delete the ones you won’t ever use again. Then move on to loading the photos in PSE.

Step One: Load into PSE

1. Open Photoshop Elements Organizer

2. Click Import. Then Select Files and Folders

3. Select the photos or files in the Get Photos And Videos From Files and Folders dialog box.

  • Turn off the Automatically Fix Red Eyes
  • Check Automatically Suggest Photo Stacks.
  • Click Get Media

4. Optional… import keywords and tags (if any… don’t select blurry, high resolution, etc)

Import PSE Tags and keywords

Once you have imported your files, you’ll see this.

Files imported into Photoshop Elements Organizer
Sometimes the file names will be the same when you import them.

Notice that the file folder names are similar to the ones you created in Windows Explorer. The confusion sets in when you import 01 Jan from 2014 and 01 Jan from 2015. You’ll have two folders with the name 01 Jan. Clicking on the folder will show you what is in each one.

I solve this problem by only importing the folders I want to work on and leaving the remaining photos out of the PSE Organizer.

Step Two: Create Album Category

Think of Album Category as the title of your project, for instance, Disney Vacation 2015 or Bob’s Year in Review 2014. This is the preparatory step before your organize your photos into page groups. For now, create your scrapbook project’s Album Category.

1. Click the green plus sign beside Albums

2. Select New Album Category

Selecting a new Album Category in Photoshop Elements Organizer
Click on New Album Category

3. Type a name for the album (your project name)

Rename your Project in Photoshop Elements Organizer
Add Project Name (Bob Year in Review abbreviated to YIR)

4. Click OK

Creating Album Categories in Photo Shop Elements Organizer
Now you have an album category

Step Three: Organize Photos Into Album

Albums are like the pages you will place in your scrapbook project. In your Disney Vacation album category, perhaps an album (or page) would be Space Mountain or Meeting Cinderella. In Bob’s Year in Review, an album (or scrapbook page) would be Pinewood Derby or Last Day of School. You would have a number of albums under your album categories.  

1. Click the green plus sign beside Albums

2. Select New Album

Adding an album to an album category in Photoshop Elements
Select the New Album Entry

3. Type a name for the album (your project name) in the area where the red box is.

4. Drag-and-drop photos from the Media view to the Content area of the Add New Album panel.

5. Click OK.  

Organizing photos in Photoshop Elements using Albums
In the rectangle, add the scrapbook page topic (Pinewood Derby).
Drag photos to the Content Pane from the media field (the center). Then click OK.

The albums will become temporary folders that link to your files on your hard drive. You’ll be able to add and remove photos and other images to these folders without altering where the files are on your computer (if you’re careful).

You can put the same image in multiple albums without making extra copies of the actual file on your hard drive. Does this make sense? If not, leave me a comment below.

Filtered photos for scrapbook layout now organized using Photoshop Elements Organizer
Photos that will go on the Scrapbook Page (Pinewood Derby) in the Project (Bob YIR 2015)

When you remove an image from your album, you won’t necessarily delete the image from your hard drive. If you encounter a prompt to delete from the album and/or your hard drive, never click the hard drive.

How to remove pictures from the Photoshop Elements Organizer album without deleting it from your hard drive.
When removing a photo from an album category, you’ll get this prompt. To remove it from the scrapbook page folder but not the hard drive. DON’T click the also delete from hard disk option.

The benefit of creating these albums is you can dump all the photos and visual items you may want to include on a scrapbook page. When you’re ready to create the page, you can add more or remove excess without affecting the original digital media files.

In the future, we’ll walk through the steps of crafting a scrapbook page. Before you embark on that wonderful journey, organize your overall project into an Album Category and with possible scrapbook page images sorted into Albums.

If you want more details on this step, leave comments below and I’ll explain it further.

Bonus Tip for Photoshop Elements:

The great thing about PSE is that you could have the latest version PSE 13 or an older one PSE 9 and have the power you need to create beautiful pages. Additionally, there is a tremendous amount of tutorials written and recorded about using this program, especially for scrapbooking. If you do not have a copy of this program already, look for an outdated copy (PSE 11 is what I use) or get the newest version near Black Friday for $50. Otherwise, the program generally runs $100. Additionally, you do not need to upgrade the program every year. Get your money’s worth by using it for several years.

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.

4 thoughts on “Power Scrapbooking: Organizing Photos in Photoshop Elements

  1. Wendy,

    One clarification before answering the question. For my digital scrapbooks, I save them to JPG and then upload them to Mixbook.com or PrestoPhoto.com. (I could use Shutterfly but they don't offer the 8.5 x 11 portrait oriented style that I love). For my blog books that are one photo, a title and journaling (no pretty backgrounds), I save those pages to PDF and upload to Lulu.com. Just wanted to clarify the how and where I have my books printed.

    Would I use Photo Shop Elements to organize my photos if I was going to use Shutterfly and their stock options. Nope. The power of Photo Shop Elements is to create custom scrapbook pages. If you're going to use the Shutterfly service, organize your photos in iPhoto or Windows Explorer as I've shared before. Then upload your images for each scrapbook page in separate batches so you are not overwhelmed with all the photos you could use on a page. After you have placed a group of images on a layout or two, then upload images for the next few pages. Does that make sense?

    Over the course of the next few months, I'll demonstrate how I use Photo Shop Elements.I hope to explain it as if you were sitting right here so I could personally walk you (and others) through the process. (There might be some video how tos as well, but no promises at this point). You should be able to gleam tips for this method of digi scrapbooking that can apply to a Shutterfly like service.

    Thanks for your wonderful comments and questions.

  2. I know you like to create pages with backgrounds and decorative elements, and then save as a PDF for printing. I see how this organization works with that approach. If you were creating a family history book using a company like Shutterfly that provides backgrounds and layouts, would you do the same thing?

  3. Photo Shop Elements is the scaled down version of Photo Shop. If you use Photo Shop, you can do many more advanced features that I can't with Photo Shop Elements. I don't know if the PhotoShop Organizer is available outside of Photo Shop Elements which is why I'm not upgrading to full PhotoShop. I do wonder if Lightroom has something similar for organizing photos and creating albums?

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