The goal of this presentation is to help take you from feeling completely overwhelmed with the amount of photos that you’re taking, to feeling a sense of relief with a plan in place to get started with organizing your photos.

There are over 1.7 trillion printed photos that are languishing in shoe boxes, in drawers, and in  old faded albums or the envelopes they came in. So if you feel like you have more photos than anybody else, be assured that you are not the only one who has this problem. 

Over a billion digital photos are taken every year. It was only 15 years ago that the iPhone was introduced to the world and a camera suddenly became in everybody’s pocket as part of their phone technology. So that has just added to the increase in the number of photos that we’re all dealing with. So it’s a mess, and you’re not alone. Cathi Nelson is the founder and CEO of The Photo Managers and author of the book Photo Organizing Made Easy: Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed, and co-author of A Business Roadmap for Professional Photo Organizers.

In this presentation, Cathi Nelson gives a high level overview of the five steps that professional photo organizers use, and takes a closer look at the most time-consuming step and critically important step- sorting.


The 5 Steps of Photo Organizing


Step One: Set a goal. What is your end goal with your photo organizing project? Are you interested in passing down a photo legacy? Are you downsizing and want to pass on photos to the next generation? Take your time to think about this because knowing your goal, and your reason why we’ll help you stay motivated.

A goal also needs a deadline. Is there a wedding coming up or an anniversary? I know my son’s getting married next year. And suddenly I have a goal to start getting the right photos together and up him and also his fiance so that I can put together one of those really fun montages of them.

Step Two: Collect your photos into one place and take an inventory so that you know what you have. We’ve created handouts with easy to fill out forms that are going to help you with this process. It’s linked in the email where you got this recording, where you’re getting the recording, or it’s linked there in the chat. So collecting your photos into one place. Set up like a small table in a corner of your living room or dining room, you want to start going on a hunt and gather where you pull all the albums, all the frame photos, all the external hard drives, iPhones boxes of photos and get them in one place. And again, we have these great forms so that you can start getting your arms around the project. Many people significantly underestimate how many photos they have, it’s not uncommon for people to be shocked.

Step Three: Sort your photos. This is the step that takes the most time. This part is explained further in my ABC’s of Photo Organizing method below.

Step Four: Save  your photos. You want to scan the printed photos and slides, or you want to hire a professional to do that for you. If you’re saving your digital photos, you want a digital photo hub on your computer, and you want to make sure that you have the images on an external hard drive. 

Step Five: Share! Last of all, the most fun part, share you photos! You want to share them with family and friends through photo books or slideshows, like I’m talking about doing for my son, your Nixplay digital photo frame is a great way for people to have access to seeing those photos so they’re no longer trapped in albums or boxes and drawers, and on your computer or phone.


Sorting Photos Using the ABCS Method


A:the ones that belong maybe in an album or they’re the memories that you would mourn most if you lost them. Right now, we have fires and hurricanes and tornadoes and floods sweeping through communities all the time. What are the photos that you would just be heartbroken if you lost? Those are the photos that we call the “A” photos. doesn’t mean that you have to put them in an album, but we use that just as a visualization for you to understand, these are your best of the best. These are the ones you want to make sure that you digitize, that you backup and you share and display them into the future.

B: These are the photos that are stored in a box or that you backup. They support the A photos, but you’re not sure if these are the ones you want to keep. It’s so hard to decide if a photo is an A or a B, so this alleviates some of that pressure that you feel. Also, we all tend to take too many photos at one time. Every photo collection has multiple photos of the same shot. B photos are the ones that you just can’t let yourself part with. You might want to have access to them at some point, you might want to go back through them. These are the photos that are gonna be archived for safekeeping, but not necessarily digitized right away.

C: Yes, you can throw photos away! The first thing you can do is a major sweep through all your photos and pull out all the doubles, blurry photos, poorly composed photos, doubles upon doubles and just ruthlessly throw them away. Our goal is for you to eliminate 80%, maybe even 90%, of your photo collection so that you are left with the 10% best of the best. You will never regret that you are only interested in the stories that are told in those best of the best. 

S: Does the photo tell a story? If it’s an S photo, those are the photos that play a significant role because they’re illustrative about the picture. It may not be the most perfect photo, and other people might not understand it. For example, a picture of a single tree in a backyard may seem meaningless to me if I looked at it, but you know that that full grown tree in the front of your house was planted by your grandfather right when you were born. Or the funny picture of your dad making a silly face that annoyed you as a teenager but today, you would give anything to see that again, those are the “S” photos.

So you want to be sorting your photos into the A photos, those are the ones that you will want to digitize, you’re going to want to share into the future, the B are the maybe photos that you’re not so sure about, they go back in the box, the C is throw away 85 to 90% of the photos that you have collected, and the S photos tell a story.


Watch the full video to learn more about the photo organizing process, and when it’s okay to break the rules.