Overwhelmed With Family Photos? 4 Stress-Free Steps to Getting Your Photos Organized and Under Control.

We have the blessing in this modern age of being able to snap a photo of our family in a blink. Unfortunately this can actually cause us moms to become overwhelmed with family photos really quickly!

Struggling with family photo organization?

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This is because, as soon as your child starts to do something even remotely cute we can whip our phones out of our back pockets and snap that memory.

But we take SO many copies of that memory trying to get it perfect. Filling up our camera rolls and phone storage insanely quickly.

childs hands holding an open family photo album on table

The blessing of high quality phone cameras come with many downfalls

There are also some downfalls. They definitely DON’T outweigh the benefits but they are still struggles nonetheless.

Having cameras in our back pockets can lead to

  • TOO many pictures
  • Decision fatigue between what picture is the best and the one we should be keeping
  • Easy to put off dealing with them & sorting them because our phones have so much storage space
  • Easy ways to backup to various cloud services, making us even less motivated to delete anything

Now, also I am well aware that everyone has different priorities when it comes to HOW they organize pictures of their families, and what they do with all those pictures. 

We don’t have to get years behind on our photos, if we implement the right steps

But I am guessing that if you are here, reading an article about what to do when you’re overwhelmed, then we might have a few things in common. 

I finally in December/January of 2022/2023 OFFICIALLY got my family photos under control, organized, got up to date on my family albums, AND created a routine to keep me accountable with pictures moving forward.

I want to share all those details with you to help you feel as great as I feel about our current family photo situation! 

overwhelmed caucasian women holding head in hands while sitting on couch. Looking down at her phone

What to do when we are overwhelmed with family photos

Step 1: Assess

You need to assess what your current photo situation is. Answer some of these questions to get the ball rolling. 

  • What photo albums do you want to make that you haven’t yet?
  • Where are the majority of your photos stored?
  • Do you need to save your photos to an external storage device, or do you like using cloud storage?
  • If you like using cloud storage, how do you want to keep past years photos organized?
  • Do you care about editing / applying presets to your photos before adding them to albums etc?
  • What do you do with family videos? (P.S – family videos can also have presets added now, crazy I know!)
4 photo albums stacked neatly, laying on a white surface

Step 2: Formulate a plan

You will want to 

  1. Make note of what albums you need to make
  2. Make note of where all your different photos are currently
  3. Come up with an idea that doesn’t overwhelm you – of a timeframe for this project
  4. Break your big goal down into small goals throughout your timeframe
  5. Figure out WHEN (time & days) that you can dedicate to this project
  6. Decide what you want to do with the hard copies of the photos themselves. Where to store them. External storage devices (USB’s, passports, hard drives etc), or just stick with cloud storage
  7. How do you want to organize the photos within the storage method you chose. A folder hierarchy is usually best for external storage devices, whereas naming hierarchies are best when using cloud storage (since you can’t usually place folders within folders on those). 

Step 3: GET STARTED

Time to get started now according to the plan you made! This was my process once I got started breaking the cycle of feeling overwhelmed with family photos.

  • Made my list of what photo albums I needed to start & or finish (it was ALOT) because I like to have yearly family albums and albums for year 1 and year 2 of each child’s life
  • Started by going one year, then one month at a time. Sorting the photos, deleting bad ones, editing ones I liked.
  • Moved photos (once I completed a month at a time) into an album labeled either 1. To download, or 2. For albums
  • Once I was done a couple months at a time I would upload the album ones I wanted and get those months sorted out. 
  • Once I finished an entire year I would then download all those photos off google drive and save them to my external harddrive 
  • Once safely on the harddrive, I would the photos in that ‘download album
  • Check off (on my notes) the month’s I just completed, then repeat the process!

I had to break it down and just focus on a month at a time. In order to alleviate the overwhelm to feel confident in myself to even get started.

Also this was because I was sometimes doing this during the day as well (when I needed to rest my swollen legs), and wanted to have easy ‘stopping off’ points so I could pick up again on where I left off more easily. 

Step 4: CREATE A ROUTINE

You need to now build family photo management into your daily or weekly routine (or monthly but that is a slippery slope) so that you don’t get to the point of complete paralytic overwhelm again. 

Consistency (not perfectionism) is the key to fighting against disorganization & overwhelm. 

For example – my nightly routine is now 

  • 9:00 pm I get a reminder from the ‘reminders’ app on my Iphone “Pictures” that I have to check off when it’s complete…I also have a ‘backup’ reminder on the habit section of my daily planner
  • I then have to go to my phone’s camera roll & see if I took any pictures that day
  • I delete any pictures I don’t want
  • Upload any pictures I want to edit to Lightroom Mobile & apply presets etc
  • Export back to my camera roll
  • Upload all photos to the Google Photos app, adding it to the album ‘Year – Month –  Family photos’ etc. If I have any screenshots or similar that I need for later, then those get uploaded to a separate google photos album specifically for those ‘need those later’ type images. 
  • *BONUS TIP * For me – When bulk downloading images from Google Drive, they DID NOT save with the appropriate time & date information embedded into the photo. So saving into Year – Month photo albums then downloading them that way, will be an easier way to keep pictures sorted nicely on your final storage method of choice. 
  • Upload any pictures I want in albums to Mixbook, Qeepsake or both & add the appropriate ‘memory’ to go along with it
  • DELETE all pictures from my phone camera roll & from the LightRoom app I was editing in

Family photo management tips for busy Mom's

That’s it. I know that seems like ALOT of steps. But in reality, most days this takes me less than 5 minutes! ANYONE can do that while they are winding down watching TV or anything. 

I promise, those 5 minutes are WAY less overwhelming (for me at least) than the thought of spending WEEKS like I spent over Christmas Holidays this year – organizing 3 year old photos that I had NO idea what memory was attached to them anymore. 

That routine is just an idea to help you spark ideas for what your own routine should look like. The key here is to find a routine that YOU can stick with so that you will not start to feel overwhelmed with family photos again.

Personally, I like to keep my camera roll fairly empty

Some people won’t feel overwhelmed by the phone camera roll housing the photos, and will be able to just do monthly, or yearly ‘backups’ to their cloud storage or external storage of choice. 

I chose to keep my camera roll EMPTY, and my Google Photos automatic backup turned OFF because I was getting WAY too many pictures into google drive that are terrible quality, pictures my kids took etc. 

THEN, you have to upload directly from your phone camera roll anyways into apps like LightRoom for editing, or Qeepsake for photo album making. 

So I didn’t see the point of having a mess of photos in Google Photo’s that I couldn’t even upload to the places I needed to upload too, and having to ‘organize’ photos in two separate places. 

This way, Google Photos is my temporary holding place accessible by manual upload only. To house my photos for half a year to a year until I am ready to download everything onto my external storage device. This way I can also still access photos (weeks/months) down the road that I suddenly want access too. For social media, updating my phone backgrounds, sending to family etc. 

Once again, everyone’s personalized desires/routines are going to be slightly different. 

3 family photo albums laying open  on a table

Recommended resources for getting organized when you’re feeling overwhelmed by family photos

In summary my process for solving the overwhelming amount of family photos I had was too…

  • Figure out what photo albums I still needed to make
  • Used Mixbook to create the ‘First two years’ albums that I like to make, and used Qeepsake to create our 2022 Family Album.
  • Downloaded all our old pictures off Google Photos (my cloud storage of choice)  and saved them to my portable hard-drive because I don’t like having years worth of pictures sitting on google photos. 
  • Came up with a daily routine + standard steps I can take to keep up with my pictures every single day.
  • Or easily get caught up again if I loose track for a week or month. So that my pictures don’t get out of control again. 

Mixbook – Online Photobook Creation

Still one of my favorite photobook creation websites. I have used Shutterfly, and most recently Qeepsake as well.

But I still always come back to mixbook for my kids ‘Baby & Year 1’ albums because they can be much fancier. I love the wide range of size and cover personalization options available as well.

Qeepsake – Family Milestone Photobook App

The newest way I use to keep organized.

Pros –

  • Easy to use, affordable photo books
  • Simple daily entering of memories via the APP or Texting your answers in.
  • Reasonable cost/shipping even for Canadians
  • Hardcover or softcover options
  • Size options

Cons –

  • Very plain jain books (no extra colored stickers, or backgrounds etc)
  • You have to create a ‘child’ named family memories (and add EVERY single entry in to this ‘child’ which is easy to do) in order to have a way to order a single book containing a years worth of family memories.
  • Not many options for customizing your collage of photos (for a single page) when you want more than one picture on a page. 

Light & Airy – Lightroom Mobile Presets

My favorite preset creators for years. I use the presets both for my personal photos and biz photos. 

They have a wide range of presets available, for both photos and family videos! Quite often the presets are one touch, and I find they rarely need extra adjusting.

When feeling overwhelmed with family photos the best thing to do is… take action

My personal family photo situation has been a complete disaster for years now. I blame it on having my girls so close together, that I never had a chance to prioritize photo organization.

It might be partly true, but now that my photos are organized (a few months before another baby joins the family) I can see it was actually a matter of overwhelm. 

Which is why I wanted to share these helpful steps (that I myself JUST followed) to help you also get organized when your feeling overwhelmed with family photos. 

You don’t have to settle for waiting till your kids are grown before you gain control over your camera roll

My ultimate goal was having a family photo album for every year we have been married, and to have a personal album for each kid for Year 1 of life, and Year 2 of life.

After that point any specific photos or milestones of the kids just get incorporated into the yearly family albums. 

Now that I have managed to get on top of our family photo situation, our old photos have been safely backed up, and all albums have been made. I can now teach other Mom’s how to do the same in a non-overwhelming way!

I hope this was helpful, full of tips to help you get started, and be able to stay on top of your family photos as well. 

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Take care!

Bye for now,

Amy

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