How to Organize Photos

September 26, 2019

Don’t dig through your entire photo collection to find that one photo, when you were wearing that one thing, from that one occasion. Our cell phones have a nifty way of chronologically organizing photos as they are taken, but that isn’t the case for physical photos. We’ll teach you how to organize photos so you can enjoy them for years to come.


Before going through your photos, gather them all in one location. Search your house high and low for photos in boxes, albums, folders—everywhere!

We recommend storing photos in photo boxes that are acid free. You’ll also need acid free dividers for the boxes and a pencil or photo-safe pen.


Sort your photos into categories that make the most sense to you. Here are some examples of categories that may be right for you:

  • Year – One or more, depending on how many photos you have.
  • Events – Holidays, vacations, parties, milestones, etc.
  • Places – If you’ve lived in multiple locations or have taken extended visits overseas, this may make sense.

There’s no right or wrong way to sort your pics—just make sure the categories are broad. You’ll sort them into sub-categories later.

Declutter Your Photos

Toss any duplicate copies, multiple angles of the same thing and/or blurry photos. Duplicate images can be saved and given to your family or used for other projects (You may want to keep these in a category of their own).

Now is a good time to label any photos that need more context or details. Always use a photo-safe archival pen or a pencil, and make sure to write on the backside borders.

Sort Categories into Sub-Categories

Once you’ve sorted your photos into broad categories and decluttered them, it’s time to organize them further. Your sub-categories will be organized by dividers within your photo box. Here is an example of how to organize a category:

  • Year: 2008
    • Andy’s Birthday Party: Feb 2008
    • Florida Vacation: Apr 2008
    • Colorado Family Reunion: Jul 2008
    • Halloween: Oct 2008
    • Thanksgiving: Nov 2008
    • Christmas at Aunt Sally’s: Dec 2008

Label the Boxes

Label your boxes by broad category. Using the above example, we would label that box “2008.” This part depends on how you categorized your photos, so do what makes sense for you.

Now that your photos are organized and stored properly in their boxes, you’ll want to keep the boxes in a cool, dark and dry area.

Now that you know how to organize photos, you’ll never be stuck wondering where this or that specific image is again! If you print images often, we recommend organizing and storing as you go, especially if your categories tend to be the same year-over-year.

On an organizational kick? Try these other projects:

Top Top