1 In organization/ our home & family

Organizing Family Photographs Part Deux

If you’re anything like me: What do you do when your to-do list is so long your head is spinning and you don’t know where to start? (work/house/kids/dog/work/work/work).

You do something that’s not even on the dang list, of course

I organize. Cleaning out a closet is akin to a 60 minute massage. A stroll through the Container Store (right?). A 20 minute power nap. Of course these zenlike tasks often take on a life of their own with a whole new set of to-dos but it is what it is, eh?

I’ve decided to re-tackle my family photograph organization, which I last discussed waaay back in 2012. Since that time, I’ve just dumped everything I shoot into those way too general folders and gahhhhh…what a mess. My initial plan was to rename files appropriately when importing, dump them into broad buckets, and find them easily by searching.


Some of those folders are beyond huge, and scrolling through 4,000 images to find ONE – when you could (and should) cut that down into smaller chunks? Nonsensical.

Why have I decided to do this? It’s the first step to getting it all culled and printed. I KNOW you keep seeing Facebook memes and guilt posts about our kids’ generation being the most photographed…with all those pictures on the computer. ‘Tis true. I mean, Aidan has NINETEEN scrapbooks (Ava has three – oops), but when I quit scrapbooking in the late oughts that shit stopped cold. Oh sure, I had every intention of getting back to it…but no. Never going to happen. So let’s move on, shall we?

This was my original folder structure, where apparently one Holidays folder just wasn’t enough:

Not terrible, but within those folders we have a dumping ground. A small taste:

Hot mess express. With each new shoot I’d quickly make a folder, dump away, and fuggetaboutit. Need something specific? Good luck. My goal is to clean up and organize into logical subfolders and (eventually) send each one off to be printed as a book.

Off we go!

My first task is to convert a gazillion RAW files to .jpgs. Whyyyy did I do that? I suppose it’s because you couldn’t edit .jpgs in Lightroom back in the day, but that ship has sailed. So let’s get back 3/4 of our storage space, shall we? If you need to do this, it’s a very simple process using Bridge and Photoshop:

Open your first folder in Bridge and sort by File Type (View>Sort>By Type). Select all the .CR2 and/or NEF and/or .PSD files:

Select Tools>Photoshop>Image Processor:

(NOTE!!! This will not work unless your PS & Bridge versions match, so update if needed).

It will pop you over to Photoshop, where you set up Image Processor to convert to .jpg files. I set mine to quality 9. I know I could use 7 or 8, but what the heck, they’ll still be waaaayyyy smaller than the RAW files.

Let ‘er rip. It processes one at a time, so it might take 30 seconds if you have 2 files…or 6 hours if you have 4,991 files like my ‘Living in Georgia‘ folder. I kid you not. 4,991 RAW files in one folder. What was I thinking?

After it’s done: 1. Delete the RAW files, which feels soooo good. 2. Move the converted files from the new .jpg subfolder folder into the main folder. 3. Delete the empty .jpg folder.

Voila! A folder full of .jpgs. ready to organize. For my new structure I decided to organize loosely by subject/person/year; cliche but it makes the most sense. If I need a school picture of Ava, it’s easier to go into School>Ava>Grade than Ava>Year> and search for her photographs.

To get them there, I pop into a folder and sort by date (View>Sort>Date Created). 

In some folders I was smart enough to rename using dates when importing…but in many I was not <smacking forehead.> For those, I right click the first image, and select File Info, then scroll down and repeat until I find the last image for that year:

Select the whole group, and right click>Move To>Choose Folder. Navigate to where I want them to be, create a new folder for that year and drop them in.

5 days later…I have 24,470 photographs organized into these high-level folders:

Those high-level folders break down into this:

It’s not perfect, but by golly it’s better! I still have some work to do – almost all of Aidan’s birthdays & some of Ava’s are buried in the yearly folders, but my eyes have glazed over and I think I deserve a break.

For those wondering about the private folder: I once accidentally opened the “Ava” dumping ground folder in front of Aidan and those photos are what came up first. He will regale his grandchildren someday with the story of that horror. 

Next up? Digging into those yearly folders to move some things around. Then culling. Which is not a job I wish on ANYONE (oh wait!). Then sending each folder off to be printed. Chatbooks, most likely, since I already happily use them for my Instagram books. Will I edit? Probably not. The bad/blurred/under/over-exposed will be deleted; what’s left is good enough.

Now where is that to-do list?


  • Susan
    Friday | August 3rd | 2018 at 7:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this. My photos desperately need to be organized.