Do you know where your photos are?

September is Save Your Photos Month!

>>> Free Online Event — Register Here! <<<

It's Save Your Photos Month! Do you know where your photos are? Share on X

This year members of The Photo Managers are presenting 40+ FREE mini-classes to help you organize and save your photos. I signed up and have watched a few of the terrific little 15-minute classes. Most of them are in English, some are in other languages, and they are all available NOW to watch at your own pace (through October). You could binge them, but they are meant to be bite-size lessons that you watch one or two per day, picking and choosing topics. Don’t worry, it’s not like if you miss one, or five, or didn’t start right away, you blew it. If you click the link above you can see what the classes are before actually signing up.

Additionally, there are weekly LIVE presentations. The replay from last week is available for watching, and the rest are scheduled on Wednesdays during September.

Why is it called Save Your Photos Month instead of, say, Organize Your Photos Month?

Because September is also National Preparedness Month, and one of the things people say they miss most, when hit by a fire, flood, hurricane, or other disaster is their photos.

Why organize your photos?

We organize photos for the same reason we organize anything else β€” so we can find what we want when we want it!

If we have thousands of disorganized digital photos spread across various electronic devices, it becomes frustrating to sort through them every time we want to look at a particular photo or show it to someone else. It’s like a print photo becoming lost in a pile of paper clutter.

Whether you organize your own photos, or hire a pro to help you, it all starts here:

Do you know where your photos are?

(This always reminds me of the old TV announcement: “It’s 10 PM. Do you know where your children are?” Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers that.)

Are they on your cell phone? And do you know how to get them out of your cell phone? Are they backed up in case something bad happens to your cell phone? (See: Are your files backed up?)

Are your digital photos spread across multiple directories, hard drives, and devices? Are your print photos languishing in dusty boxes in the garage or attic, or tucked under the bed?

The first step in any organizing project is to gather like items together.

Here are some places to look for photos:

Analog photos

  • Albums
  • Boxes stashed in a closet or under a bed
  • Boxes stored in the garage
  • Slide carousels
  • Film in canisters and cameras
  • Negatives
  • Movie film reels
  • Video tapes

Digital photos

  • Computer hard drives
  • External hard drives
  • Thumb drives
  • Smartphones
  • Email and text attachments
  • Memory cards in old cameras and desk drawers
  • Cloud storage

Before proceeding with the gathered-together photos, ask yourself: β€œWhy am I doing this?”

Knowing your β€œwhy” will make the rest of the project easier.

Managing Memorabilia: 5 questions to ask before you start

Your reason for doing this now could be so you are prepared in case of an emergency.

If you’re ready for more, here are some resources:

Photo & Memorabilia Resource Roundup

Emergency Preparedness Resource Roundup


In what ways do you think you are prepared? Or need to be prepared?

What tips can you share with the rest of us?

Stay safe, organized, and be prepared!

Copyright 2021 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Sara Skillen on September 7, 2021 at 6:25 am

    Hoo, boy – do I need to take some action around this topic. I’ve put most all of the print photos into boxes (with little to no organization), and told myself it’s ok to wait until…maybe retirement?…to get them in better order and scanned. I know where they are.

    But the digital ones?? For some reason those feel more daunting, perhaps because they aren’t tangible. We do have backups, but it would be a relief to have everything categorized, and the duplicates deleted. I have a little time coming up in October – you’ve inspired me to get started!

    • Hazel Thornton on September 7, 2021 at 7:24 am

      Yay! Let me know how it goes, OK, Sara? I’ll cheer you on!

  2. Janet Schiesl on September 7, 2021 at 6:39 am

    Great list of where to look for photos. I’ll save that! Why are photos the last organizing project people want to do. I wish I knew, but I’m one of them. All my physical photos are neatly put away for someday when I have the time to work on them. I do back up my digital photos. At least I’m doing that right.

    • Hazel Thornton on September 7, 2021 at 7:25 am

      Yes! Backing up digital photos is a terrific first step!

  3. Katherine Macey on September 8, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    I love the part about knowing your “why!” It’s something I bring up all the time with clients. This post made me want to get my photos organized. Thanks!

  4. Julie Bestry on September 9, 2021 at 10:43 pm

    In the Eastern Time Zone, it was “It’s 11 o’clock, do you know where your children are?” just before the start of the news. And my mom always turned to me and said, “Uhhh, yup!” πŸ˜‰

    I know where all my digital photos are, and they’re doubly-backed-up (belt-and-suspenders, baby, in the cloud and an external hard drive!) My prints and negatives, however? Pre-1989 are all in one large box in my living room; 1989-2011 (when I went digital) are in photo boxes, stacked, on built-in closet shelves. But they aren’t scanned, and they need to be!

    My why? Because losing them would be like losing the delightful moments of life!

  5. Hang It Up Closets on September 10, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Great tips for organizing photos… and you can apply those ideas to organizing just about anything that has begun to take over areas of the home. When items are just tossed haphazardly, it’s impossible to enjoy them, so getting photos in order gives you not only the satisfaction of tidiness but also the benefit of being able to look at them at your leisure.

  6. Laura Carter on September 13, 2021 at 10:41 am

    My photos have all gone to a drawer where they have piled up year after year! I will definitely use these tips to start organizing them – and walk down memory lane. πŸ™‚

  7. Sabrina Quairoli on September 13, 2021 at 11:34 am

    You read my mind! I was telling my husband today that I wanted to digitize my childhood photos. I know it will not be a lot when I get around to it, but looking at the 10 albums is overwhelming.

    I need to write down a system to reference a year or event when I want to see the photos again. The albums are in chronological order, so I am good there but, some may be out of place. Unfortunately, I do not have dates or descriptions of the photos since they are attached to the album.

    We had all the digital photos placed on CDs when we got them developed since my kids were born over 20 years ago. Then, he went and uploaded them to an external server by year and event. Now we just added to it by event per year.

  8. Linda Samuels on September 13, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve been working on a long-term project to live with less. It’s a low-pressure way to edit and organize. One of the things I recently focused on were the boxes of photos (pre-digital images.) It’s not that they weren’t organized. They were. But they weren’t edited. I went through the 11 shoe-box sized boxes, threw out the “bad” images, negatives, and thumbnails, and reduced the boxes down to 7. My digital photos are all in good shape with back-up in two places (cloud and external hard drive.)

    I’m sure more could be done, but for now, it feels much better.

  9. Lucy Kelly on September 14, 2021 at 1:55 pm

    I do know where my photos are! Mainly because I organized the “real”photos a while back, albums and everything. And because once we all got phones and computers, I gave up trying to manage family photos and just concentrated on my own digital output.

    That works for me, because I don’t take many photos. My husband and daughter have taken tens of thousands over the years. I decided to be okay with them doing that and not trying to keep up.

    While they’re snapping away, I sometimes remember to make a conscious effort to take the picture in my mind – to try to bring myself into the moment and hope that the gorgeous sunset or the spectacular mountain view will seep into my subconscious store of memories.

    The main reason I stopped though was because after I made all the family albums with real photos – and there were many – I found no one looked at them. I enjoyed making them, but if I’d known how little use they’d get, I might not have bothered.

    I saved the handful of photos I never want to lose in a small album I can easily take with me if need be. It’s in our fire box. If there are 100 photos, I’d be surprised.

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