Things you need to think about before starting to organise your digital photo collection

May 31, 2016
Recently, one of my newsletter readers wanted to know what to do about all the digital photos they have floating around on their various devices.

Things you need to think about before

The good news first: this is a very common issue and you’re not alone!

These days, our photos are on all kinds of devices such as phones, tablets, and computers. Of course we can also find them on the memory card in our digital camera/s, in email attachments, and in many other places. To make matters even more complicated, most of us also have printed photos. Feeling overwhelmed yet? Let me know if this doesn’t overwhelm you because then you should probably be a photo organiser ;-)!

As with any organising project we start by creating a vision. What do you want from your photos? Making albums or other keepsakes? Do you want to share them with your relatives and friends overseas? Do you want to be able to find a specific photo within a few seconds? How about leaving a meaningful photo and story legacy to your children? Think about this vision or goal before you do anything else. The reason it is important is because it will help you make decisions further down the track. Not only with regards to which photos you want to delete but also when deciding which photo management software is suitable for your skill level and needs.

Let’s have a look at the basic system:

Digital Photo-Life System



I reckon the input side is probably the easiest part. Think for a moment and write down where your photos are at this point in time. To make things easier I have prepared a checklist for you which you can download here.



Deciding what your hub is going to be is already a bit trickier. Imagine the hub as a big bucket in which you throw all your photos. It’s nothing more than the place where you gather and organise all your photos. The hub is also what is (hopefully!) being backed up regularly.

The first question you need to think about is whether you want to store your collection on your computer (which can also mean an external hard drive if you have a lot of photos) or in the cloud. There are of course pros and cons for either solution and it will depend on your needs. The cloud might be better for you if you want to access your photos from different locations. I won’t go into detail at the moment but will talk about that comparison in the next post.



Once you’ve gathered all your photos in one place and hopefully organised in one way or another it is time to actually enjoy your photos. How would you like to do this? Through photo books? Canvases? Keepsakes? A digital photo frame or a video slide show? Prints?

Again, this in itself is an extensive topic and I will write about it in another post in which I will also give you links to suppliers of the mentioned kinds of products.

Until then, why don’t you take some time to think about what you want from your photo collection and go through the checklist of the input devices. You can then start to gather all your photos from these devices and places. If you’re not sure about your hub yet, let’s assume it is going to be your computer. If you haven’t already started some kind of organisation there for your photos, you could create a core file structure which is nothing more than a folder per year with sub-folders per month to which you add your photos accordingly. It looks like this:


This is a lot of work though and there are photo management systems that do this automatically for you. Here is the link to the checklist again if you haven’t downloaded it already.

I hope this helps you get started. Good luck and don’t forget:


All great changes

I’d love to hear in the comment section about any questions or experiences you have had with photo organisation. The more you let me know about the challenges you encounter, the better I can serve you with sharing tips.


Looking forward to reading your comments – best wishes,




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