Skip to main content
Journal Kids

5 tips for archiving your digital memories…

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

Before Ruby was born, we barely took photos of special occasions, let alone our daily life. But when you have a baby, you get camera happy and all-of-a-sudden daily life seems way more interesting. Bob really got into photography from capturing photos of our kids, and he's since become pretty good at taking pictures.

With everything being so virtual these days, I love that we can capture memories so quickly and easily, but I find that digital photos can just get lost in the abyss that is your phone or your computer. I know how much I love going to my parent's house and flipping through old photo albums of our family, so I want to be able to preserve these memories for our kids to be able to look back at some day, too.

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

I know it can seem overwhelming to put together a book of all your favorite moments from each year, but if you stay organized as the year progresses, it makes it way easier and way more fun to do. And the end result is super rewarding. Here are a few tips on how we archive our digital memories…

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

1. Upload your photos often and keep them organized by date. One thing that happens to almost everyone is they get a back-log of photos on their camera that need to be downloaded onto their computer. You put it off one day, and then another, and before you know it, you have a thousand photos of your kids that you haven't downloaded. 

Since we take photos so often (and pretty much every weekend), Bob and I now make sure that the photos from that day or weekend need to be downloaded from the camera, edited, processed, and archived within a day of when the photos were taken. Otherwise, it will just build up and get too overwhelming.

We create folder for each day with year/month/date and then a short description of the photos. I use this method for my work photos as well which makes them easy to find and keeps them in date order. You can see the screen shot example above that shows a mix of what some of my personal and work photo folders look like.

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

2. Create a shared photo stream of your favorites photos. You need to have an iPhone and iPhoto to do this, but since most people do these days, it's so easy to share your favorite photos through a shared photo stream. We have one "flagged" stream for just us of our favorite photos from every download, one that gets shared with our parents so they can get regular updated photos of their grandchildren, and even folders that get shared with friends. It's an easy way to get the photos from your iPhoto straight to your phone without having to email it to yourself or taking too many extra steps to duplicate a photo for other uses. You can see what it looks like on my phone above. The nice thing is you can upload these photos from a shared folder to Instagram, text them, or email them to others. 

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

3. Archive the best of each month and file them into a "year-end" folder. I create this folder in addition to our "flagged" shared folder in iPhoto, but this is an especially good option if you don't use iPhoto. If you have a folder for each month ready and waiting for photos, then whenever you have a great set of images from a fun weekend or vacation, you can drop the best of's into the folder for that month. That way, when it comes time to put together a book at the end of the year, it's all organized by month and ready for you to upload in order by month.

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

4. Make printed photo books of each year and keep your layouts simple. So this part seems obvious since making a book to keep your memories is the end goal for what this post is all about. But I think a lot of people get worried about having to "design" the book or having to write a ton of words about what happened that year. You don't have to make it complicated. And to me, just getting the images in the book is what's most important. I keep the layouts very simple and mostly keep one photo to a page with full bleeds or minimal borders. I rarely create a multi-photo page (unless I'm chronicling a fun series of the same scene like Coco's one month photo above).

Sometimes I'll also make additional smaller books with family trips, professional photos, or other outliers that I can group together by topic and might not fit in our main book. For example, one year, I made a mini book with photos from our trip to Mexico and another with our trip to France. Since something special like a vacation might have 50-100 great photos on just that alone, I separated them out into their own fun, little book.

Oh Joy / 5 Tips for Archiving Digital Memories

5. Give extra copies as gifts. The one thing that gets my butt in gear to put together these books every December is to be able to give a copy to each set of our parents for Christmas. I know how much they love having something tangible to look through and show their friends, so that's enough to make sure that I don't get lazy about it and make those holiday shipping deadlines.

Okay, so if you're already behind on archiving but really want to get on top of it, I say attack it slowly and catch up by downloading photos off your camera, saving photos in folders, and keeping track of your favorites. Once you catch up on past photos and can archive as you go, it makes the whole process way easier and actually fun. And the best part is being to look back on all these moments that might have otherwise been lost in the digital abyss!

{Our books were made through Artifact Uprising}

62 comments

  1. i would absolutely love to do this! i really suck at scrapbooking, but making a digital-to-print book i can do! i just made my very first one last year. and i actually organize my pictures a different way, with months and years for each kid (if single) and then one folder with month and year if they’re all together. it’s been working out pretty good so far. and then a folder for all major events, again sorted by year.
    …and i just learned about shared streams! i’m so psyched about that! love your tips!

  2. Great tips! I’ve got tons and tons of photos and its only getting bigger! Quick q – do you guys also use a picture filing program such as iPhoto? Because then with your photo system (which I’m totally going to adopt), you would have 2 copies of each photo which can quickly take up disk space.

  3. Do you use iPhoto to store your photos or do you make folders(as shown above) and save them in your documents folder instead? Currently, I use I iPhoto and am curious as to what the benefits are for making folders vs iphotop?

  4. Great system! I am wondering if you back up your photo files onto external drives. I was told I should use two in case of a failure on one (which happened to me). Now I have photos on a drive that can’t.be accessed. ?

  5. I totally agree with you about photos being forgotten in digital storage. That’s one of the reasons I got interested again in scrapbooking. And yes, I find that if I don’t post-process my photos soon after I take them, it’s hard to go back and edit them because there’s so much build-up. Great tips! 🙂
    http://www.thepeculiartrouth.com

  6. Perfect timing. I just starting exporting my pictures because iPhoto library can’t handle all my pictures. And it’s so slow to upload photos to ANYTHING web based. This is a great tip for how to name my files to make them easily findable/sortable/searchable.
    And I love Artifact Uprising!! Great idea to have a sort of “flagged” file so I’m not overwhelmed at the end of the year by going through all the folders.
    Thanks Joy!

  7. We use iPhoto only for it’s incredible ability to instantaneously share photos with anyone you so choose. The best part is that it goes right to the smartphone, tablet, or computer to your desired recipients.
    In our opinion, iPhoto’s cataloguing system is poor. It is very convoluted and almost impossible to find photos just based on folders, meaning you have to find the photos you want by scrolling through every photo you have taken.
    So our process is:
    1) shoot photos in RAW format
    2) download pictures to Adobe Lightroom
    3) process the photos we want
    4) drag folders into iPhoto
    5) flag photos to send to people
    6) send photos via iCloud
    It sounds convoluted, but it’s really not bad. This way, we have a great archive of our photos, but we also have the ability to share what we want instantly.
    We use a LaCie 10 TB external hard drive to archive all the photos. We also run it as a RAID drive, so it can withstand hard drive failure without losing data. Totally worth the money.

  8. Hi Christine,
    My husband replied to another comment and mentioned our backup, so I’ll quote him here for your answer 😉
    We use a LaCie 10 TB external hard drive to archive all the photos. We also run it as a RAID drive, so it can withstand hard drive failure without losing data. Totally worth the money.
    Best!
    Joy

  9. Hi Kristen,
    My husband answered a similar question in the comments, so I’ll quote him here:
    We use iPhoto only for its incredible ability to instantaneously share photos with anyone you so choose. The best part is that it goes right to the smartphone, tablet, or computer to your desired recipients. In our opinion, iPhotos cataloguing system is poor. It is very convoluted and almost impossible to find photos just based on folders, meaning you have to find the photos you want by scrolling through every photo you have taken. So our process is: 1) shoot photos in RAW format 2) download pictures to Adobe Lightroom 3) process the photos we want 4) drag folders into iPhoto 5) flag photos to send to people 6) send photos via iCloud It sounds convoluted, but its really not bad. This way, we have a great archive of our photos, but we also have the ability to share what we want instantly. We use a LaCie 10 TB external hard drive to archive all the photos. We also run it as a RAID drive, so it can withstand hard drive failure without losing data. Totally worth the money.
    Best!
    Joy

  10. This is great advise. I always want to do a year-end album but it’s too time consuming. I think I’ll try some of your methods this year. I’ve also never used iPhoto (where have I been!) so I think give that a try to stay organized with my husband!

  11. Oh my goodness. This is EXACTLY what I needed.
    Thank you! Your organization method seems really awesome! It’s so hard to stay on top of these things. I will definitely be using your tips!

  12. This is such a great tip! I upload my recent photos whenever I have a spare 20-30 minutes throughout the year. That way at the end of the year I don’t have this giant daunting task of putting together 349 pictures from the last 365 days. It’s already in the making!
    xo Rachel

  13. These are gorgeous!!! The quality of your photography makes these books so visually appealing! Another important group of memories to preserve is kids’ artwork! At Plum Print (https://www.plumprint.com/), we will do all the work for you and send you a beautiful coffee-table book of the artwork so it doesn’t disappear into a box in the attic! Childhood artwork is just as meaningful as photos and we handle these precious memories with the upmost care to preserve the creativity as vibrantly as the day it’s created with those tiny hands! Would love to collaborate on Ruby’s Plum Print book!

  14. I have always categorized my pictures by date into folders, but I never put a description of the event or anything else to jog my memory. Great tip – thanks! Also loved the tip about keeping the design simple. That was always one of my hangups. I wanted it to look perfect so I did nothing. LOL. I also really love SocialBook. Facebook sort of serves as a journal, through pictures and funny things my kids say, so I use SocialBook to print out the year’s posts. So easy and right now they are the only tangible albums I have!

  15. I love this post, thank you! I am curious if you have debated including text to pages with photos? I make a yearly photo book and I like having text so that we can remember a few more details about events but I definitely LOVE and prefer the look of “just photo” pages so I don’t put text on every page. What are your thoughts on text in your books? Do you have any text in your books?

  16. Hi!
    With the LaCie external HD, how much does cloud storage cost? Do you know if you can make folders within folders in iPhoto for organization? Also, what book company do you use? Thanks!

  17. Ahhh, you guys have totally inspired me. I used to be so good about this stuff but lately, after Maira was born, not so much.
    I finally did make a chatbooks book for Christmas with instagram shots because it was just so easy. But I love the idea of making more archival/beautiful books for our family.
    Did you start making the books just when Ruby was born or before that?
    I may just have to start with the year Henry was born… *fingers crossed*

  18. What do you do with videos you take? Also, I am a bit confused about what you do with the “best of” photos. Do you put a “best of” folder inside each month folder, or just make one “best of” folder per year??? I would think just doing one would work ok as long as the photos are dated, then you can just sort by date….but just wanted your thoughts!! Thanks!

  19. I also take a ton of photos that I feel I do a pretty good job of regularly editing and uploading to my machine. So my question is, where do you physically keep your images, and do you back them up? I’m constantly battling an almost full startup disc that’s 90% photos. I’m currently dumping them onto my unlimited Dropbox, but wanted to back them up another way too. Just curious how you do that part…thanks!

  20. I just ordered my book! I have been putting off doing something with our honeymoon photos, I think this will be perfect! Thank you for the tip, I cannot wait to receive it!

  21. Hi Alice!
    We have text in some of them but it’s usually a short one liner. I have thought about adding in more like quotes from my daughter, but otherwise, I like keeping them photo-focused personally 😉 I think if I put pressure on myself to have to write a bunch of things too, I would put it off!!
    Joy

  22. Hi Elizabeth,
    Well, we have two “best of’s”. One is a general “flagged” folder in iPhoto that streams to both our phones so we always can see/show/share those easily. But in addition, I create manual folders on my computer and copy the best of images for each month that I think I’d want to include in the year end book. It’s sort of a duplicate process, but I honestly don’t love iPhoto and only find it useful for photo sharing, but I think the organization of iPhoto could be way better. Plus, the program is super slow on my computer and leaves me frustrated a lot!
    Joy

  23. Brilliant process. I’ve been downloading straight to iPhoto and it’s so tedious. Will try Adobe Lightroom. Now I just have to figure out where all my iPhoto photos are stored. ?

  24. This is such great advice! I’m the worst at printing out pictures – but you have inspired me to go ahead and create a folder of pics to print/archive as I go so I don’t have to do it all at once. And then maybe I can just hire someone when I’m rich and famous to go back and do all the old years for me?
    I also enjoy using My Social Book (I promise I don’t work for them) to print out my entire Facebook newsfeed and all my pics each year. It’s fun to see what I posted, the picture quality is decent (not great, but decent), and I can literally click a button and order the book and not spend ANY time organizing photos. Since I tend to put the best ones on Facebook, it’s like I’ve already sorted through them.

  25. Hi Miriam,
    We have printed some of the photos we take on our iPhone (because you don’t always have the fancy camera available). And yes, the quality is good enough as long as you use the original image on your phone and not the Instagram version.
    Joy

  26. Hi Miriam,
    I make ones for the year, so 2013, 2014, etc. And they include both kids. I thought about doing separate ones but that makes it even more tricky and harder to separate especially when they are in so many photos together.
    Joy

  27. Hi Sara,
    When you have a picture opened in iPhoto, you can right-clickon it and choose Show File and it will take you right towhere the photo is stored on your disk.
    Best!
    Joy

  28. This is such a great post – thank you. I’ve been sorting out my iPhoto once a year and backing up to Flickr too, but it is a huge job. You’ve definitely motivated me to do it once a month.
    For everyday sharing, I use Tinybeans. It is a free app that enables you to create an ongoing journal of your children’s lives and automatically sends daily email updates to grandparents. You can print photo books from it too. I should share that it is my app but I’d love for you to check it out. I hope you love it.

  29. These are great suggestions, Joy. I definitely need to do the more regular uploading.
    Where/how do you store all your lovely new albums, though? Especially when you know the quantity will increase and storage space is always limited. For now the fear of tiny hands destroying our photos means everything’s in the back of a closet, but I hope they won’t always have to be out of sight…
    Any tips or even a blog post with visuals appreciated! Thanks.

  30. This post is so motivating! I organize my photos by either date or by a description of the event, but not both, and I think things can get confusing. I love the idea of using both! I have an awful memory so a description with a date is a perfect idea, espcially if I want to document specific dates.
    Staying on top of things is definitely the hardeat part. I used to be super into scrapbooking and one reason I stopped scrapbooking is because I was sooo behind!
    While I love storing all my photos on a hard drive(because I don’t have to find storage space for actual photo albums), I agree that having a tangible book is something special to have. So it’s hard to find the right balance between photo albums and folders on my desktop. One thing that I love is setting a screen saver on my computer. That way when my computer is idle my photos shuffle through. I like it because it’s like a photo album slideshow!
    I recently posted a how-to for a mini sort of photo album, an accordion photo album box. I gave it to my hubs for V-day. It’s definitely not as big of a project as this but it’s another great way to have your photos complied together in a tangible thing. Here’s my how-to post:
    http://goo.gl/Hqqj7I

  31. Thank you, thank you! I have just picked up my camera again after a few years, and I am so excited to start documenting more of my life. I love your suggestions for organization and am excited to put together an end of the year book.

  32. Hi Tracy,
    We use CrashPlan Pro through the business, and it costs $10/month per user. That’s not a lot of money for automatic backup and peace of mind.
    iPhoto does not organize into folders in any logical way. Thus, it’s impossible to find photos if you just look through the Finder menus. You can organize photos into groups through iPhoto, but you have to scan things visually if you want to find anything.
    We use Artifact Uprising for our books and they have been awesome. Really great paper feel and faithful reproduction of your photos. Excellent quality.
    Hope that helps!

  33. I organise my digital photos the same way and find it works really well for me. 🙂 I hope to see more memory keeping posts by you in the future x
    erin // beingerin.com

  34. Wonderful article, thanks for the details. I do a book each year full of our photos and a few stories, like memories from a trip or funny quotes from our daughter. I also do this service for my clients – nothing makes me happier than to help another family record and share their memories, and sometimes we all just need a little extra help to make that happen!

  35. Very very very VERY useful post. Tank you very much… It’s always a nightmare for me to organize my pictures… Great tips…
    Great books (Love Artifact Uprising brand)
    Also do you have any tips on which type of camera (easy to handle but that make great shot as yours) I can use… I’m actually using my Iphone 5S which is great but for the quality of the pictures I would like to change but don’t carry a big massive camera… Any tips?
    Thank you for your wonderful blog

  36. I’m awful at keeping my photos organised, so these ideas are great! I have tried a few times to sort them but they’re on so many different hard drives it’s overwhelming. Hopefully after reading this I can finally get them sorted…
    Also loving the books, Joy! They look amazing. I just put my first photo book together as a mother’s day gift and she loved it. Was great to finally do something with all those pics stuck on my phone (I swear, I have photos on so many devices). Some of the resources in the comments helped heaps! If anyone else was thinking of doing the same I also found some great tips here – http://my-books.com/nz/photo-books/#photo-book-tips – which helped me get over my beginner nerves.

  37. Hi Joy!
    I was wondering what size photobooks you usually have printed and how do you scout out fun backgrounds and walls to take pics in front of? Thank you so much for your doses of inspiration. Lots of Love!
    Warm regards,
    MT

  38. Hi Maliha,
    For walls, we (me and the employees at my office) are just constantly keeping an eye out for them when driving around the city, and we keep a google doc of all the walls and locations so that I can pair them with outfits as I pick them each month. As for the photo book size, I usually do the standard vertical format as I like the option to be able to put in a standard size image on one page or do a wider spread.
    Hope that helps!
    Joy

  39. Hi Joy – Ditto on Elizabeth’s question about video. I’m stumped at how to keep track of these little live moments! Any creative ideas besides keeping them on the hard drive?

  40. Thanks for this! I am going to try again with iphoto. I must not be using all the features correctly.
    I was going to ask which programs you used, glad you shared this info! Thanks.

  41. Beautiful photo books and lot’s of inspiration here, thanks. I also really like the idea of building a year end collection!
    I kinda get tired of managing photos in iphoto, now called ‘Photos’, because it’s just not that user friendly. I think keeping a visual timeline makes things a lot easier for me to re-find images and to keep them together as digital memories, so I just upload my images to liniaa.com.
    This way I can create a photo wall and zoom in and out in time to find my events and vacations.
    Good thing of course is that I can export them back into folders and download to my computer if I ever need a backup.

  42. Hi Lynet.
    It is a great way to do it. I went with ScanDigitalas they have special pricing for ScrapBook pages.

  43. Did y’all switch to Photo? How do I find out where they are stored now? I’m a mac newbie and imported some pics from my memory card and want to move them into files, but… can’t find them! Thanks!

  44. What a wonderful post, Joy. One of the downsides of digital photography is the clutter of digital photos but as you said that if you stay organized with your photos as the year progresses it makes it way easier to work on your photos.
    We are a photo tools startup and I would love to introduce you and your readers to our photo organizing tool with which you can organize your digital photos in a consistent YYYY-MMM folder format. So that when you need to create photo books, searching images becomes lot more easy. I would love to hear your feedback on our photo organizer tool, it’s called Tru and you can get it for a spin here – http://www.truorganizer.com

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *