paper crafts, project life, scrapbook layouts, stuff i like, tutorial

project life organization // the pictures


do you spend your precious scrap time organizing supplies or photos and then getting to the end of the night with no pages done? or even just staring at your photos and paper, wondering what you’re going to do with it all? are you constantly feeling behind? check out how a couple hours of prep work can make your next crop super productive!

UPDATE: check out my video on this process!

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setup monthly reminder

the only way i remember to do something consistently is to have something else do all the remembering. i use the calendar on my iPhone to setup a reminder to UPLOAD PHOTOS at the end of each month. use whatever method works for you but get it scheduled and make it recurring.


setup folder structure

i use an external hard drive to store all my photos, start by picking one up at target or

1) make a folder that’s dedicated ONLY to photos.


2) make all your YEAR folders.


3) within each YEAR, make all the MONTH folders. i label mine (01 jan), (02 feb) so that they are always in order. without the 2-digit numbers in the beginning, windows will sort alphabetically and that makes it hard to locate the months easily.


4) within each MONTH folder, make one (edit.develop.scrap.) folder. We’ll get to this a little later but it’s a pretty important step.

5) make subfolders based on how you scrap:
a) you can organize by DATE/EVENT. mine are labeled like this (10.4.2010 – marshall 3yr photo shoot)
b) for project lifers, you might want to organize by WEEK. feel free to pre-make all of these folders before you have transferred your photos here, it will make it easier to drag and drop. this tutorial will continue on the path of storing photos by month/week, not by event.


* use this handy calendar to determine the dates that are within each week:

2013 Calendar

transfer photos

there are two different functions i do here. one is for getting my photos to flickr so i can blog about them (i do this every week), another is for getting my photos off my phone and into the month folder (i do this every month when my calendar reminds me). we’ll start with getting the photos off your phone so you can learn this routine and get into that habit.

when your monthly reminder hollers…just make the time to do it. you’ll be glad when you can be on top of it and it won’t be an overwhelming task. just sort that folder view into details mode and move all the pictures from the previous month into the corresponding month folder. and look…its already created for you!

here’s where you’ll need to spend some time so grab an iced tea and throw on an awesome spotify playlist and enjoy the fruits of all your labor.

1) wherever your pictures are, (phone, dslr, point and shoot) plug it in and get that folder full of pictures open. put your view in detail, and you should be able to see the date picture taken column. click that heading to sort so they are ordered from oldest down to newest. (if you don’t know how to do this, i can explain it)  |  or if you like to see the pictures to know what event or date they belong in, change it to the thumbnail view. it doesn’t matter, you’ll end up in the same place.

2) if you’ve already made your WEEK folders, select the photos within that date range and toss those pics into the proper week folder. even ones you know you’ll delete later, just get them in there. and don’t be afraid to CUT/PASTE versus COPY/PASTE. your goal is to MOVE them pictures, not to copy. (if you need to back up, store a second set on another eternal drive or cd).
do this for each WEEK for that month. for my project life albums, the month takes precedence, but i still document by week. for example, if a 7-day week spills over into a new month, for me, that week ends there at the end of the month. i will start a new month in my album, even if it’s only part of that week. so i would never store march 1-3 in february’s file, just because they share a week. does that make sense? basically, if it happened in march, it gets stored in the 03 mar folder. but you have to do this how it makes sense for you. so make that decision early on, before you start moving photos around.


3) once there are no more pictures hanging outside of the month folder (like a hallway rebel who’s not in class yet), you can begin determining which pictures are scrap worthy. (sometimes if i do have wandering photos, i will create a RANDOM folder for them.) just go through each WEEK folder and copy/paste the pictures you want into the edit.develop.scrap. folder. the COPY/PASTE part is essential. the idea here is to keep all the originals in their respective folder and only edit the copies that are in the edit.develop.scrap. folder. but the ultimate goal is to make uploading easy. if you have all the photos you want to develop in one folder you can easily upload once for that month (or week, however often you scrap). i just like to make things as easy as possible.

edit (10-60 minutes)

because i mainly use my phone for pictures, i usually edit them before i get to this step. but there are always times when i still need to edit my dslr photos or iPhone pics so let’s just assume we need to edit. you know you better than i do how much time you spend editing so i won’t give any advice here. i’m not here to tell you how much or how little to edit….so get your photoshop up or just crop some photos. it’s totally up to you at this point.

develop (15-30 minutes)

another section where you get to do what you normally do. but here is my plug for the best online developers. i develop my photos at persnickety prints. for many reasons like a) they have an app called LifePics that i can upload directly from my iPhone or iPad. b) their care and attention to coloring and cropping details are phenomenal! c) they print in nearly every size imaginable. my go to sizes and 4×6, 3×4 and 2×2 instagram. d) their packaging is immaculate and always comes with a coupon for something awesome on your next purchase. e) shipping is always $5.00.
what i’m saying is that i don’t care where you print your pictures, just GET YOUR PHOTOS DEVELOPED! it’s the only way they’ll get into your scrapbook….no magic photo fairy will get them there for you. =) honestly, i develop my photos about every 3-4 months. i upload to pp each month and create a separate folder for each month. then when i’m ready to develop, i follow their steps and wait for my happy mail to arrive.

organize prints by week

you’ll need:

sandwich size ziploc baggies
quick drying pen


1) i start by writing the week and date range at the top of a post-it for each week i’m sorting. i place them on my table like this:


2) i refer to facebook and the dates my computer shows me for dating each picture on the back. then i place the photos in the corresponding date pile.


3) when you’ve got all the piles complete, place the sticky note on the inside of the baggie, facing up. and slip your photos in and seal it up. there, that’s a whole week of pics, ready to go!


happy scrappin’!

here are a few rules i scrap by:

1) i don’t scrap everything.
2) i keep it relevant and appropriate. it’s a family album, not my personal journal.
3) simplicity is key.
4) it’s perfect how i’ve left it.

check out my recent project life pages! and part 2 // the supplies is up so you can check out the next part of the process.

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13 thoughts on “project life organization // the pictures”

  1. WOW!! What a great job you did on explainging and showing us how to organize photos. So that’s how you keep track of them, the dates and baggies, awesome! Great system you have, thanks for sharing and inspiring us with it.

    I do mine weekly and sometimes twice a week. I love looking at our pictures and making notes of the stories I want to tell. Some weeks I want to scrap these stories soon as they happen. My PL is done weekly so I upload and get them right to Walgreens and pick up within an hour and start on my PL.

    I love that you can order yours in the smaller size, wish Walgreens did that too. Would save me on some cropping time.

    My photos aren’t that organaized either, need to make a folder for topics, like one for each of the kids so I can go right there when I want a photo of them. Mine are just under the date I upload, no title or anything.

    Oh and this year I’m actually not mixing weeks in my PL either. What happened in February stays there. So my last weeks of each month are a little tricky but I’m getting used to it now. I even make monthly dividers in my album which I never did before.

    Thanks again sweetie, I learned a lot and am in awe at all you do for your photos.

    1. oh how i would love to be able to spend my weekdays scrapping…..maybe someday!
      thanks for reading, like you always do, and i hope you enjoy the next two parts i’m working on!


  2. Great article! This will help lots with “developing” (pun intended!) my process. My question is when you have received your printed pictures – do you delete them from your edit.develop.scrap folder? I assume so since you would still have the originals in the month/week folders. Thanks so much for your visual aids too!

    1. hi kathy! thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. i actually leave the pics in the edit.develop.scrap. folder so that if i have to go back and look for dates, the pics are easy to find.

      hope this helps!

  3. This is a fantastic resource for me. I did one full year of PL and then a few years where I only did a month or two and dropped off. I’m committed to 2014 but I have to be more organized and your post is very helpful. Can I ask why you wait so long to develop and are you just a month behind when you put them in your book?

  4. I know it’s been a while since you did this post, but I still want to say thank you. It’s been incredibly helpful for me to figure out an efficient workflow for my photos and PL. Thanks!!

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