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Organizing Family Photos & My System For ALWAYS Having Printed Albums! | Hillsboro Wedding and Family Photographer

July 1, 2018

Filed in: Tips

how to print and organize your family photos | hillsboro and newberg family photographerI’m sharing today about how I organize my family photos AND how I create our yearly albums!  As a organizational junkie (well, before kids, at least), I love having a system in place so it’s easy to find what I’m looking for when I want to print or share a photo.  I also like to keep it organized so that when I create our yearly albums, I know that I’m not missing any that got lost in the shuffle.

So first!  Our yearly albums!  This is a project that I started a few years ago when my son was around one.  Before that, I’d been doing a quick little press printed album each year with the basic highlights of our year together.  It was just me and my husband then, so we’d have a photo or two from each adventure we went on, our anniversary and birthdays, that sort of thing.  I wish now that I’d been better about printing out EVERYTHING the way I do now, because let me tell you, I NEVER go back in the old hard drives and archives to just browse through those photos for fun.  It’s so sad when photos just live on your computer!  I have such great memories of looking through my parent’s big photo albums (the binder kind with the sticky pages), that when my son was born, I knew I wanted to give that same gift to him.  So here’s how I do it, from start to finish!

I take a LOT of photos of the kids and our lives.  Shocker, I know.  I’ve found I really have to stay on top of my system and NOT get behind on processing them or it turns into a huge project.  So immediately after I’ve taken photos, I download them onto the computer and, since I shoot in a RAW format (which means they need to be processed through a program like Lightroom in order to be viewable), I put all of them in a folder labeled RAW for that month.  Here’s what that folder structure looks like: 2018>06>RAW, just like this–
Once everything’s there, I open Lightroom and import the photos into my personal Lightroom catalog.  I tend to keep all of our family images in one catalog for the year (saved under 2018>LR), but I may break it up halfway through the year if it gets too sluggish.  I flag all of my favorites, do some quick edits, and export them full-size to the JPEG folder (2018>06>JPEG).  Right after that, I export them as web-sized too if I plan to share them on Facebook, and those go in a separate folder for the month: 2018>06>WEB.  Usually, at this point, I post them up on Facebook and that’s it!
This is where the album comes in!  I’ve thought about what happens if my kids want to look at their family photos–do I expect them to hop onto mama’s Facebook?  Nope!  I want them to be able to go to the hall closet and pull out an actual album!  So for each calendar year, I buy a 200-photo slip in photo album.  I’ve used this one and this one.  I like the ones that have a little cutout on the front or spine so it’s easy to see what year they’re from.  I just put our favorite family photo in the front (usually whatever one we send out on our holiday cards).
In June and December, I double check that I’ve backed up all my files for the last six months and then I make my big print orders!  So in June, I’m checking that January-June is backed up (on two hard drives as well as the cloud), and then I pull my favorites to order 4×6 prints of.  Since I only have 200 spots to fill for the year, I try to get a little choosy here and just print 1-4 of each event or adventure.  I may upgrade our albums to hold more photos now that my husband and I both have smartphones and are taking EVEN MORE pictures, but I think that 200 photos gives a nice in depth overview of our year without being overwhelming.  I try to think about what my kids will want to see as I choose the ones to print: photos with extra environmental details, like wider shots with our living room or our favorite park will remind them of these places once those places are only memories.
That’s the hardest part!  Really!  I always overorder on prints, so then when they come, I have my son help me choose which ones go in the family album and we just slip them in!  I use leftover photos in baby books and to put into little Dollar Store slip in albums for the kids to keep in their room, and they LOVE “their” books!  My 1 1/2 year old especially loves looking at pictures of the grandparents in her book and naming everybody she sees in the photos!
So that’s my system!  It’s really not too much work, but it does require 1) staying on top of what photos are coming in, 2) culling and editing them immediately, and then 3) just sitting down twice a year to order prints!  It was super overwhelming the first year I did it because I had NOT been good about editing favorites as I shot them, so I had a lot of photos to go through, but now that I keep on top of it, the last few years have gone so smoothly!  I hope this helps you navigate that feeling of “family photo overload” and inspires you to create albums for your own family!

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  1. […] made for them! Well, I’ve been pretty good about backing up my family’s digital photos (see my system for that here), but I’ve always been worried the boxes of prints from my childhood would get damaged in […]

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