How to Organize Print Photos

This is a blog topic you all have been requesting for a while and I'm so excited to finally share!  I have had this project on my to-do list since Jared and I got married and finally decided to just rip the band-aid off and get it off my to-do list.  I'm working on another post about digital photo organization that I hope to share soon!

I know a lot of people only store their photos digitally but 1. I do not solely trust that and 2. what about all the photos from your childhood or that you already printed before camera phones were a thing?  I worked through this whole process using all the photos I already had printed at my house and am now batch printing the ones off my phone/camera with special meaning in waves so it's not too much of an expense at one time.  Once I print new ones, I label and store those according to my process below.

Step 1:  Find a storage solution

I'm an organization junkie and knew that I needed a simple and effective way to organize my photos that would make them easy to find and allow me space to customize to my needs.  I turned to my two favorite stores for organization: Target and The Container Store.  I purchased these:
  16-case 4x6 photo organizer, 5x7 photo storage box (also found here) and grabbed my trusty label maker.

Step 2:  Gather all the photos

Gather all of your printed photos in one place.  It's so much easier to organize anything if you gather everything together in one spot and handle it all at once.

Step 3: Separate into categories

Start making piles of photos that go together.  Some of my categories were: Elementary, Middle School, High School, Cheerleading, Early Family Photos, College, Grad School, etc.  I wrote a category on a post-it, stuck it on the floor and would just pile any photos under that category right beside it until I had sorted through all of my photos.  Don't fall under the trap of going down memory lane here.  Not that it's not okay to reminisce, but the point here is to get organized and this will slow you down.  Just categorize and move on.

If you had a big trip or experience that created a lot of photos, it's okay to separate those out into their own category.

Step 4: Don't be afraid to throw away photos

That blurry picture you can't make out?  You'll never be able to so toss it.  Random photos taken that really don't mean anything to you now/you don't even remember why you took it?  Toss it.  Keep the photos that truly mean something.  It's better to have less that you really cherish than a mountain of photos that don't mean anything.  For example, all of those photos you exchanged with friends back in the day.  Did your schools have those stickers/tiny photos you could exchange?  Yeah, I tossed those.  I felt bad but I have zero use for them.  I kept group photos of fun nights with friends and tossed all the unnecessary.

Step 5:  Label your containers and put the photos where they belong

I used my label maker to make labels of what was in each container.  I wanted to use it so I could peel it off and reuse my containers if I ever needed to.  Of course, my ink ran out and I had to write on a few stickers so once I refill that I will replace those labels with the printed ones.  Once the containers were labeled, I put the photos in them and organized them chronologically as best I could.

Step 6:  How to handle larger photos

I purchased this container to hold my 5x7's and this to hold any 8x10's and the even bigger ones I have from when I was a baby.  I can't really organize the photos in the big container but I don't have that many and this way I know they are protected.

This is the process I used to organize my photos but I still have one project left to do.  I want to go back through each container and label each photo with the year and the memory.  I know as time goes on and more memories are made it's going to be harder to remember the little details and I want to get them written down before I forget.  I'm working on this same project with my grandparents on their photos and we're at the stage of writing on the backs.  It's such an important thing I want to have done for their photos and mine.

I'm not going to lie, this was a bit of a project but once I sat down to do it, it really wasn't as bad as I expected.  Plus, it marked a huge item off my to-do list and now I have a system in place for all our new photos.  As I said above,  I'm printing out important photos in batches to add to my containers and as I do I am labeling and storing those away correctly.  Having a system established will help me stay organized with my print photos and I hope it will help you too!

Have you organized all of your print photos?  If so, tell me how you do it!  If you haven't yet, I hope you'll find my process helpful & get the motivation you need to get your photos organized.


  1. I have photo boxes from the container store, too! Just cardboard boxes, and then my pictures in them are organized by year, with a little divider between each. I am able to keep them on my bookshelf which is perfect for my limited space. Storage that also is decor!

  2. This is such a great idea! I actually don't really print individual photos anymore, but I do make chatbooks for each of our trips and special occasions so that we have a physical album of them!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  3. Those containers are amazing!! What a great idea! I really need to organize my photo box since I just throw all sorts of random memories in there

  4. I've seen people use these and it looks like such a good idea. I go between wanting to do this and having everything digitalized... but either way, I'm saving this for later because photo organizing is big thing on my to do list.