How to organize your photos

Here’s the modern way to catalogue your photos so those happy memories stay organized and accessible

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Once upon a time people used to store their treasured pictures in something called “family albums” or occasionally, “shoe boxes”. Today these quaint books and boxes are as passé as Polaroids and vinyl 78s.

The advent of digital cameras has blown the photography world wide open, and exponentially increased the number of photos we take. Now that you’ve exhausted your memory card, how do you organize and store your pix for posterity, and cut down on the number of dusty albums lining your shelves?

Slip a disk
Small and portable, CDs and DVDs are easy to store and label (a DVD can hold much more than a CD, but not all computers can read DVDs). For safety’s sake, it’s always a good idea to store your photos in more than one place. It can cost thousands to retrieve photos from a dead hard drive, so take a few extra moments to make duplicate copies when you’re burning a disk. The low price of DVDs and CDs make it economical to make a couple copies for friends and family too. When organizing your disks, label by month or event so they are easy to catalogue.

Another compact option is a USB or FireWire hard drive. They start at $50 and can run up to several hundred dollars and are about the size of chocolate bar. External hard drives or large desktop units can store 60 to an awesome 750 gigabytes – which can hold up to 375,000 shots – but they aren’t portable.

Go online
There are free sites where you can upload your images such as Flikr or Photobucket (these basic sites are free, but you’ll have to pay for increased storage). You can organize the images into albums and let your friends know when you’ve posted new images via e-mail or IM. Plus you can link to Facebook or another website. Photobucket has room for up to 10,000 pictures, while Flickr allows you to make cards and framed prints of your pix. You can also check out Chatelaine Smilebox to create personalized postcards and scrapbooks.

Paid sites such as Mac.com (PC users can take advantage of this too) let you incorporate cool themed templates for both video and photos. And check with your service provider to see if they offer free web hosting for your images.

Your photos are precious, but now they won’t be taking up precious real estate on your shelves.

Creating a scrapbook is a fun, personal way to display your photos. Here’s how to start scrapbooking in the age of the digital camera.