Tips for Organizing Your Most Priceless Possessions: Your Photos

Products, services and strategies to preserve these digital and printed treasures.

A pile of old pictures and a journal to document memories of past times.
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"Before using Dropbox and Camera Upload, I had images all across my devices," Barron says. "Now I have folders for each location I visit, with all photos taken at that location, in my Dropbox and organizing in this way takes a handful of minutes a week."

If you're worried about your computer crashing and losing all your photos, you could use PictureKeeper.com, a site that makes backup copies of digital photos. Its PK4 product is $29 and will hold up to 4,000 photos, based on the average size of 1 MB per photo. It goes all the way up to the PK Pro, which will hold up to 250,000 pictures for $189.99.

Consider bringing in the professionals. As you've likely noticed, many big-name photo developing services offer help beyond simply printing photos. They will also turn your pictures into photo books and transfer slides and home movies to DVD – and many of these retailers (i.e., Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart) will let you manage your photos on the store site for free in the same way cloud-centric photo sites like Picasa and Flickr do. But read the fine print because some stores require you to make at least one purchase a year.

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You could also hire someone to organize photos for you. "Professional organizers charge between $40 and $75 on average for their services," says Woodruff, who charges $60 an hour. "I have found the more experienced and specialized organizers charge more – but work faster."

Meanwhile, Amanda Scudder, an organizing consultant with Abundance Organizing, which is headquartered in Richmond, Va., offers the advice that if you're elbow-deep in pictures, not every photo is worth saving. Some you may want to give away to family members or friends and some you may actually want to send to the circular file.

"Trust me. It is okay to throw away photos," Scudder says. "Don't feel guilty. Your heirs will thank you someday when they don't have to go through mountains of your duplicate, blurred photos themselves."