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What’s the best way to organize photos?

When it comes to organizing, I’m not fond of saying anything is the best way. Something that may be best for you may not be best for me. But let me tell you some good ways (and there are many others) to organize photos:

Digitally on your computer: You can use a program in your computer, like iPhoto or Picassa to organize your photos and never even print them out. Through iCloud, you can easily share photos in iPhoto with linked devices (like your iPhone or iPad).

Digitally on the web: Photo sharing programs like Flickr, Photobucket or Snapfish allow you to organize your photos into folders or albums and easily share them with others.

Of course to use the digital option, the photos either have to have been taken with a digital camera or, if they are prints taken with film, scanned. There are a variety of services, such as Scan Digital and ScanCafe that can scan your photos for you.

Prints in boxes: A simple way to organize prints is to store them in acid-free boxes. I love Creative Memories’ Power Sort box, which allows you to sort into categories that make sense to you. You can store your photos in the Power Sort itself, or move them into a less-expensive acid-free cardboard photo box and use the Power Sort for the next project. For most clients, I recommend sorting them by child, and the child’s age or school level, and by event. That seems to be easier than a strict chronological approach. You could have all holiday photos together, if you wanted, for example. How you organize them really depends on how you want to access them.

Prints in albums: Slightly more complex, but very satisfying to many people, is to organize your photos into physical albums. It can be as simple as tucking photos into sleeves, or if you want, you can embellish the albums with words and stickers or  other decorations.

Full-on scrapbooking: You can make your photos part of a scrapbook that features special papers and many embellishments. Any craft store can outfit you with many supplies. I caution that you should choose this option only if scrapbooking really appeals to you as an activity. I have helped many moms of grown kids who had lots of unused scrapbooking supplies because they felt they should scrapbook, but never really had the inclination to do it. So they just ended up feeling guilty about it.

If you’d like some help organizing your photographs, check out the website of APPO, the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, to find  member near you.

Janine Adams is a messy professional organizer who loves helping others create order. The co-founder of Declutter Happy Hour, she believes in having as much fun as possible in the organizing process. Check out her web site at Peace of Mind Organizing!

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