Are your printed photos in boxes, drawers, and closets all over the house? How would it feel to tame that photo clutter and bring your photos back into your life, streamlined, organized, digitized on your computer, and ready to share?

How do you get from chaos to control?  If you decide to organize your print photos yourself, here are some “must-haves” for success!

A Plan

So important before starting!  What end result do you want?  Organize chronologically?  By theme or story?  By child?  Do you want to keep only the best pictures, or just get rid of duplicates?  I ask a lot of questions and create a timeline of the family and events, so I can date pictures based on ages of children and events in a client’s life.

Printed Photos: Going From Chaos to Control |


You probably have thousands of printed photos, this could take a while, especially if they are a big jumbled mess!

[bctt tweet=”Just a few of the must-haves when you are organizing your printed #photos! ” username=”photoorganizers”]

A Good Memory

Sorting takes place over many sessions.  I have to remember that I saw Jenny in the yellow dance recital costume before and about what year it was.  Or I might remember the kids were all wearing matching t-shirts on the Disney vacation, and match with other pictures in the same clothes to that vacation.

Printed Photos: Going From Chaos to Control |

A Big Table

Dedicate an area with a big workspace and a lot of light.  Not your kitchen table, remember this could take a while!

Detective Skills

You’ll need these even if sorting your own photos.

• Is that baby picture Johnny or his brother?  I see an Easter basket in the background so it must be April.  Johnny was born in February, his brother was born in July, so the baby is Johnny.  Now I know what Johnny looks like as a baby for other pictures.

• Six candles on the birthday cake?  Johnny was born in 1980, so it’s 1986.  Now there’s a reference for what Johnny looked like at six.

  • Square snapshots with rounded corners, someone is wearing bell bottom jeans and a shirt with a big pointy collar … definitely the 70s!

Geeky Tools

A lighted magnifying glass helps decipher faded dates printed on the back of photos, acid free boxes and envelopes for sorting and storage, dental floss for removing stubborn photos from albums, white gloves to handle delicate photos, sticky notes in every size and color, photo safe pencils, and dividers for notes, Google to help figure our places and dates.   For long-term photo safe storage I love the Legacy Boxes pictured above and below and label the dividers using Avery product #8195.

Printed Photos: Going From Chaos to Control |

Patience, a sense of humor, and good music


I find sorting bins of printed photos like solving a jigsaw puzzle.  It’s challenging, yet therapeutic.  If you agree, happy sorting!  Carve out the time and finally cross “Organize My Photos” off your list.

If you need help organizing and preserving your lifetime of photos, videos, and keepsakes, find a photo organizer near you at the Association of Personal Photo Organizers. 

Don’t forget to grab your copy of Photo Organizing Made Easy: Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed from APPO founder Cathi Nelson. 

Karen Herman of Organized Photos ForeverOrganized Photos Forever founder Karen Herman has a knack for creating order from chaos and loves to help clients enjoy their photos again.  Karen is certified through the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO), is a founding member of the APPO MasterClass, and was on the APPO member advisory panel. 

Before starting her photo organization business in Connecticut Karen spent her career in marketing, primarily in children’s book publishing.  She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and studied business at the Stern School at NYU.




Printed Photos: Going From Chaos to Control |