What are the Best Tips for Organizing Pictures?

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

For those who enjoy photography, finding a system for organizing pictures is crucial. Whether you like to take pictures of your children or you're considering earning extra money as a freelance photographer, it's hard to make the most of your photos if you have no system in place for finding the images you need.

Photos in an album could be grouped chronologically or by theme.
Photos in an album could be grouped chronologically or by theme.

The easiest way to organize photos is chronologically. Buy a large photo storage box, then create divider cards for each year. Monthly dividers are useful for organizing pictures if your prints are already labeled with the date or if you have a good enough memory to recall when they were taken.

Software programs organize digital photos and provide thumbnail images.
Software programs organize digital photos and provide thumbnail images.

When you can't organize pictures chronologically, it can be helpful to organize pictures by who is in them or by the general time period. This approach is commonly used for family heritage photos. Under this system, you might have a box of photos from your mother's childhood, one from your father's childhood, and another from their early days as a married couple.

If you're interested in scrapbooking, you may find it easiest to organize your photos by project. For example, if you're working on a family Christmas album, this system would place all Christmas photos together regardless of the year in which they were taken. Photos from family vacations throughout the years would be grouped together in another category. Other categories might include seasonal pictures, landscape pictures, or photos for a child's upcoming graduation album.

Negatives should be organized according to the same system you use for your prints, but it's not a good idea to store negatives with your pictures. If a fire, flood, or other disaster destroyed your photos, the negatives would be lost as well. Keep the negatives in a safe deposit box or store them at a close friend's home.

Obviously, if you have a digital camera, organizing files on your computer presents its own challenges. Various software programs are available to provide assistance with this issue, but the easiest method for organizing pictures is to create a folder for each year with sub-folders for each month. Within the monthly folders, you can organize the pictures by event. There is no need to rename the files, since you can simply view thumbnail images to determine which pictures you need.

When organizing pictures from your digital camera, it's extremely important to back up your files regularly. Burn your pictures to a CD each month or upload them to an online photo processing Web site. You don't want to risk losing your precious memories if your computer crashes.

Organizing digital photos into folders can help users find the shots they are looking for.
Organizing digital photos into folders can help users find the shots they are looking for.
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the wiseGEEK team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

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Discussion Comments


Sometimes it can seem overwhelming keeping track of where all your pictures are on the computer. It is easy to download them, but it takes some time to keep them organized. Some of the programs I have used are hard to figure out and not very user friendly.

I just usually use the Microsoft program that comes with my computer. As much as I love the convenience of digital cameras and digital photo sharing, I still enjoy holding an actual photo in my hand most of the time.


There are many online programs available to help you sort and organize the photos on your computer. I have tried many of them, but have tried to get in the habit of just using one, so I don't lose track of where all the pictures are.

The program that I have used the most is Picasa. This is a free Google program that allows you to organize, edit and share your photos. It is very user friendly and easy to navigate. One of the best things about having your photos on the computer is how easy it is to share them with family and friends.

Always make sure you have them backed up though. If something happens to your computer, you don't want to lose all your precious pictures.


It seems like I don't have nearly the amount of actual photos that I used to. Most of them are either stored on the computer or a CD. When I am working on picture organizing with actual photos, I usually put them in order by month and year.

I don't do scrap booking, so will write on the back of the photo who and/or what is in the picture. There is usually a date time stamped on the front of the photo, and this is very helpful. This is one of the first things I enable on my camera, so I always know when the picture was taken.

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