Is your phone full of pictures of your most prized possessions—those gorgeous kids of yours? Currently, my “All Photos” album on my iPhone has 9,618 pictures. About 96 percent of those pictures are of my two boys. Yes, I have to pay for extra storage, and I desperately need to pick my favorites and delete the duplicates. Are you like me and don’t want all those pictures to just sit there on your phone or Facebook timeline never to be seen again? Do you need a better way to manage pictures of your kids? If so, this article was written for you.
Let me start off with a warning: it won’t be easy. The job of organizing and using all the incredible pictures of your kids will take time. But those amazing shots you got of them climbing at the park, wearing an outfit they picked out, braving the waves at the beach, their firsts you don’t ever want to forget . . . first steps, first haircut, first time riding a bike, first loose tooth, first day of school etc., those pictures should be seen again and enjoyed. If you take the time to do something with them now, they will be cherished for many, many years to come. Your kids will thank you for all the pictures they have to look back on and remember favorite moments from their childhood that will one day feel like a lifetime ago.
I know your time is super limited, and you’re probably like me with thousands of photos that you need to stop ignoring. So, let’s dive into seven steps you need to start taking to manage pictures of your kids NOW!
How to Manage Pictures of Your Kids
Step #1 – Back Up
All of the pictures and videos are priceless to you, right? Okay, well make sure they are automatically being backed up (aka saved) somewhere. Use iCloud, Google Photos, or something similar to keep the photos on your phone safe. If you ever lost your phone, ran over it with your car, dropped it in the toilet – yes, these things happen all the time – you would lose all of the pictures and videos you didn’t have backed up somewhere. Just think of all those goofy smiles and proud moments captured…gone forever. Don’t risk it.
Step #2 – Move Over
Regardless of how you do it, you need to move all those pictures to your computer. This is in addition to the automatic saving explained in step one. The automatic backup will save everything and is essential in the event of a lost, stolen, or broken phone. This is the next step every proud parent needs to take: move them to your laptop, desktop, whatever you use that has at least a decent amount of storage. Once they are on your computer, you can choose your favorites, organize them, and do something with them. More on that later.
Step #3 – Delete
Today with phones being equipped with excellent cameras, it’s easy to have them bogged down with thousands of pictures. Don’t be like me walking around with nearly 10k photos on your phone. You can delete as your step two or three. If you prefer to delete on your phone before you move them to your computer, that is fine. As long as you are deleting.
Delete everything but a few favorites from special days and occasions. Right now I have about 175 pictures of the same thing: a close-up of my baby’s face. It’s cute, but I need to delete 174 and keep the one good one that captures his smile, chubby cheeks, and pretty eyes. Then I can look back on those few best 3-month-old baby pictures and have room to capture milestones such as his first time eating real food like these parents did to get the adorable clips below.
Keep in mind, if you have hundreds of pictures from one day (of all basically the same thing), you will never be able to find your one or two favorites years from now.
Step #4 – Organize
Once you dump all the photos onto your computer, don’t ignore them. Then you won’t be far from where you started. This next step is so important if you want to ensure all the pictures don’t just sit there unviewed, unenjoyed, and forgotten about for decades. Organize them!
Make folders on your computer to group the photos in a way that makes the most sense to you. I do a folder for all of the following: friends, family, trips, Christmas, each of my son’s annual birthday parties, professional photo shoots, etc. There are a crazy amount of folders on my computer – folders within folders. This may seem weird, but it really helps me know where to find a photo I am looking for. I label each one by year as well, so within friends, I will have a “Friends ‘17, ‘18, ‘19. Check out the screenshot of my folders below. There are millions of photos in there, but they look so neat and tidy, don’t they? See the darker folder, “Unorganized Pics”? That’s where the photo dump happens, and where I go to get them organized.
Organize the crap out of those photos. You will thank me later.
Step #5 – Back up Again
This is going to sound redundant, but you need to back up your computer too. Technology will fail you, and if you don’t back up your pictures and videos, you will lose them. You did all that work to organize them…save those folders, my friend!
Get an external hard drive (like this one that has 8TB of storage) and keep it in a fire and water-proof box. FYI: Eight terabytes of storage = about 16 million photos. Make sure all the important folders full of pictures and videos organized by occasion are saved on that external hard drive. Do it every few months or so—more often if your computer is old or on the fritz.
Step #6 – Delete Again
Just like with your phone, don’t bog down your computer by keeping all the old pictures. This is another reason why dating folders by year helps. Once 2019 rolled around, I deleted everything dated 2017 and prior. If you follow these steps correctly, you will have your older pictures organized by folder and can easily find and access them on your external hard drive whenever you want. They don’t need to be sitting on your computer and hogging precious storage space. There’s nothing more frustrating than a computer that crawls at a snail’s pace.
If you properly follow steps one through six, you will have all the raw, duplicates mostly unorganized somewhere in cyberspace (while there’s room up there), organized old favorites on your external hard drive, and organized recent favorites on your computer.
Step #7 – Use Them!
Oh boy, you didn’t think I was done at step six, did you? Heck no, this is the most important – and most rewarding – part! I mean, yeah, the nerd in me takes great pleasure in seeing my neatly organized folders, BUT, this is the part where you (and your family) can see and benefit from those extraordinary memories. Below is a list of ideas for how you can use those photos in ways that everyone can start enjoying them:
- Digital photo frame: Buy one with good reviews that takes a USB stick. Fill the flash drive with your favorite pictures, and update it every six months to a year. This makes a wonderful gift too.
- Photo book: I make my photo books each year on Shuttefly’s Custom Path, but there are lots of websites out there that have online software that allows you to custom-design a photo book for a special occasion such as a vacation, graduation, or wedding. Or, you can make one each year (like I do), which will make for a big task and many pages, but one killer book to look back on. If you’re too busy to design your own photo book, there are websites, like chatbooks, that can make one automatically for you as you upload pictures.
- Slideshow: There are many options out there that can take your photos and make a cool slideshow—like this one where you can add text and songs that you can showcase at a party or just watch with the family.
- Movie: Take it a step further and purchase software like PhotoStage, where you can make your own movie of your family pictures and videos. You will be able to edit your pictures and videos directly with the software, set background music and publish it to YouTube, Venmo, or burn it to a blank DVD to wrap and gift to a proud grandparent. Since my first son was born, I have made one of these a year. I gift the DVDs to family members and play them at birthday parties and family get-togethers. Once my boys are older, we will watch them together as a special family tradition.
- Photo gifts: Snapfish, Minted, Mpix, Photobarn, Personal Creations …I could go on for hours listing websites that have hundreds of gifts you can create with your favorite photos. There’s a reason why these companies and photos gifts are so popular. Keychains, paperweights, pillows, blankets, plaques, calendars, mugs, tote bags, magnets, notepads…there are so many gorgeous keepsakes you can personalize online with your photos. These treasures make the best Christmas, birthday, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day gifts, too. And, don’t forget to make one for yourself.
- Prints: Sometimes with new technology, we forget about the old-school stuff that’s hard to beat. You don’t need boxes upon boxes of photo prints taking up space, but it’s really cheap and easy (even straight from your phone) to print photos now. So, grab a photo album that’s easy to slide in 4×6 photos (this is the cheapest size to print). Then either print and fill the album gradually or all at once with a year or two of favorite pictures.
- Photo Ring: Order wallet-size prints of your favorite photographs, buy binder rings, hole punch the prints, and make a photo ring. You can hang your one-of-a-kind photo ring anywhere. A magnetic clip or hook makes it easy to stick onto a metal file cabinet, fridge, or whiteboard too. This makes for the cheapest, cutest little “brag ring” ever. Most companies print four wallets per sheet. I use the extras for baby books, putting up around my desk, the fridge, and giving to friends or grandparents.
- Photo Cards: Now that you have your pictures backed up, saved, cut down, and organized like a boss, you can quickly find your favorites to make photo birthday invitations and holiday cards. With everything being online these days, your family and friends will love getting something tangible in the mail with your child’s face on it.
Your family and friends will say, “How do you do it??” Seriously, I get it all the time. Now I can simply email them this article.
I Promise, It’s Worth the Effort
Dedicate some time each month to moving over, deleting, backing up, and organizing your pictures. You will then realize you can actually USE all the awesome photographs on your phone and/or camera. I can tell you from experience, these steps really work! Yes, organizing and doing something with your pictures will take time, but it pays off. Almost all – I’m talking 99.9 percent – of the gifts I give throughout the year are photo keepsakes. You don’t have to be as picture-obsessed as I am to benefit from these steps. Okay now, SAY CHEESE!
Sara Routhier is a Research Specialist and Staff Writer for Exercise.com. In addition to obtaining a degree in Elementary Education, being a public school teacher, family nanny, and tutor, she has over four years experience in content marketing. As a working mom with two boys under three, she takes tons of pictures and has learned how much it helps to keep them cleaned up—the photos and the kids!