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Chez Larsson

Organizing photos


I love taking photos and with that comes the question what to do with them all.


I’ve always enjoyed organizing my best ones in traditional photo albums with photo corners. I’ve done that for many years. The albums and the rest of my photo paraphenalia is stored in two small cabinets in the dining area.


Photos of Wille are now in eight albums and there are also some albums from trips and travels and micellaneous photos from before Wille was born.


The pre digital leftovers that didn’t make it into the albums but are still good shots worth hanging on to are stored in these two vintage card boxes my parents once used for their business cards in the 70’s. The old frames were broken so I switched them to new leftover ones from some IKEA boxes instead.


The one marked "Wille" is divided by age. The other micellaneous one is divided by year.


Some photos are more difficult to sort. At least I think so. They are the ones that are so random so they don’t fit in everywhere elso. I keep two boxes, one for Martin’s random photos and one for mine. The boxes contain vintage snapshots and portraits which for some reason didn’t make it in to albums of that time, random photos received from friends and relatives and sizes that don’t fit into my blue boxes above. It’s kind of fun to flick through them once in a while and I don’t really mind that they are all mixed up. I guess the key is not to fill the boxes with the photos that can go in the more organized spots so these won’t fill up completely.


About a year ago I decided I needed to sort the digital photos too instead of just leaving them on the computer. Both because I was afraid I’d loose them if my computer would crash (which it did six months later!) but also because I wanted to keep them together with the albums where I could touch them. Sound weird? I’m the same with magazines. I prefer the printed version the the web one because I can hold it and look at it. It somehow feels more substantial.

I do print quite a few of the digitally shot ones and put them in the albums but with digital photography one tends to shoot more frames, at least I do. So before I decided how to save my digitals I ruthlessly deleted about 80% of all the shots. There is simply no point in having  seven very similar ones, I kept the best one or a couple of the best ones and deleted the rest. This left me with a managable quantity to burn to DVD discs.


I decided to have one disc per year and for some occasions separate ones. Martin’s sailing photos are on separate discs and so are some of the ones with photos of Wille too.

You can get discs which are printable directly on to a white surface but I opted for printable stickers simply because it’s easier to reprint a sticker than the whole disc if there’s a mistake. I made a template with a software I normally use but with most CD/DVD stickers the software is included or the template can be downloaded.


For the year discs I just chose a font I like and wrote the year and what is included on the disc. For the other discs I chose one of the photos from the disc and used that as the background for writing the contents. I love how they turned out in their plastic holders.

I’ve since heard that the disc format may become obsolete in the not so far away future so now I’m tryng to think of other ways to store the photos too. I think I will probably print more to put into the albums and maybe also have some of those Blurb photobooks printed. Have you had any photobooks printed by them? Were you pleased with the results?


  • Jean says:

    Again, your ruthless editing is amazing and the digital disc covers are adorable.
    I used either Shutterfly or Snapfish last year to create a photo book of our trip to Europe and was pleased with the results. I have never heard of Blurb, but I’m intrigued. The book turned out great. My biggest concern when I print anything is color quality. I spend a lot of time correcting color on my images before I print at the local Costco. With the online book, I felt I had less control because I wasn’t using a specific color profile for the book’s printer.

  • Anna @ D16 says:

    I haven’t done it myself, but I have seen several iPhoto books that friends have had printed, and they are really beautiful.
    My photos are SO unorganized, it’s shameful. I’ve never made a photo album (!), everything is just in boxes or on hard drives. I need to take care of this! It’s too easy to put it off for years and years, and of course it just gets more overwhelming every time I take a photo!
    Thank you, as always, for the inspiration to do something about it. 🙂

  • Becky says:

    I’m only halfway through reading this post and I’m already drooling. Impeccable.
    As I am trying to edit all my belongings to fit nicely in a small space, I am wondering what to do with 5 memory boxes. Do you have any suggestions on organizing letters; cards; mementos from trips, past sweethearts, monumental occasions; you know stuff like that? These are personal things I want to have to look back on, but store in a organized way so that I don’t have to sort through messy boxes.

  • Catherine says:

    Wow you have a cat??
    I have never heard of blurb but I did research extensively before making my photobooks. My first one came from Snapfish which was nice. I then moved to Picaboo because it had many more layout options and editing qualities. I’ve seen ones from Kodak but the pictures seem washed out. Picaboo is more expensive but you can usually find a code for 1/2 off a 2nd book (I make them for me and the rest of my family!) and I think it’s worth it. My only gripe is you can’t access it from the internet.

  • Lora says:

    I haven’t tried Blurb yet but I have used shutterfly for making photo books and was very happy with the results. I make one every year of my son and give the resulting books to his grandmas. Since we don’t live close to them it’s a nice way for them to catch up with him.

  • Danette says:

    I love the photo discs, I will have to get my husband right on that! I have been wanting to order a photo book as well, they look great in the ads, I have seen one that my friend did on her Mac, it was pretty awesome.
    Hello to the cute kitty on the shelf!

  • Ann says:

    i have the same question as becky. i think that my husband and i are going to be moving overseas soon and we have at least a box or two worth of memories from our childhood, and then a bunch of stuff since we’ve been together. I’m not sure how I can organize it into something usable. I’m hoping you can help
    I’ve never made a photobook, but the ones i’ve seen from my friends have been great
    I took a digital photography class and my professor – who takes several hundred photos a DAY – suggests getting an external hard drive for your most favorite of favorite photos. When we attempted to protest saying “what happens if the something happens to the external hard drive” he replied, well, what happens if your proofs / film catch on fire? He said he hasn’t had a problem with the hard drive solution and he’s been saving pictures for quite a while. Anyway, I like that idea. Myself, I do what you do with DVDs, but I don’t label them as nice.
    Thanks for the post!

  • TM says:

    I haven’t tried Blurb yet, but I was thinking of maybe making a book from the content of my old blog (as you can download your blog directly into a book).
    I have made one photobook from our wedding (and honeymoon) and the idea is to make one book for each year. Haven’t had the time to do much yet…
    In stead of keeping several memory boxes, I scan things to my computer. (Like tickets, my childens drawings etc.) These can be used in the photobook too.

  • Barb says:

    I used Blurb to make a photo book of my son’s graduation and party. I was happy overall, but because I chose the 8-1/2×11 format, some of the photos came out really tiny. If I tried it again, I’d go with a larger book.

  • Johanna says:

    Hi Benita!
    I like your beautifully organized photo cd’s. I’d love to store my photos that way, but in past I’ve noticed that cd’s with stickers on just simply stop working after few years. I’ve lost a lot of data that way and these days just use an external hard drive + I print all my important photos at regular basis.
    As for photobooks – I’ve used finnish Ifolor and have been very pleased with the quality.

  • Deniz says:

    I’ve used Blurb several times. The quality of the program and the output is amazing! After importing photos, you can select the layout for the pages, then have the program autoflow your images, or you can customize everything.

  • mel says:

    I have had my hard drive crash and my six years of photos were gone. Luckily I was very regimented in backing them up and as a result I only lost two weeks worth of photos. I now have an external hard drive as my back up and I also burn a copy to DVD. Have you thought of doing an extra back up of your favorite photos to an online place like Snapfish? I have just finished Stacy Julians photo course and this is what she recommends, as well as printing out your photos on a regular basis.

  • Concha says:

    I’m a fan of Blurb as well! We ordered one with the photod from our honeymoon and it looks great!! Great quality/price ratio!

  • I have used both blurb and shutterfly and can say that there really isn’t much between them in both quality and price. Now I use the one that I can most readily find a discount code for.
    I do some semi pro photography (not that you would know from the rubbish on my blog, which is all shot with my rubbish point and shoot) and I am ashamed to say that I am not even half as organised as you.
    Now, tell me, is there a version of you that I can buy and ship over to the UK to come and edit my house? 😉

  • mom2three says:

    Love Blurb, it is well worth the investment if you have photos that are special, plus it’s fun to do!

  • Nicole says:

    Organizing photos is a such a pain! Especially since digital cameras allow you to take so many…thanks for just looking at them plainly and dealing with them all in a stylishly simple way.:-}

  • Benita says:

    Thank you all so much!
    I’m going to look into all the other photobook suggestions too.
    I’d love to print my blog but realised my posts are too long and have too many photos for the blog book Blurb suggests.
    Johanna, you’re freaking me out a little bit regarding the stickers but I guess I’ll just have to wait a few years to see if they work or not. I do have most of my most precious ones printed…
    The estrernal harddrive sounds like a good investment, will have to look into that as well.
    Regarding the memory boxes I’ll show you mine in a future post. Don’t get your hope up too much though, they are just that, boxes. I like TM’s idea of scanning her momentos though.
    Catherine, we actually have two cats. That’s Mini in the photo, she wants to be in on all the action around the house 🙂
    Daisy, I would love to be cloned and shipped to the UK to organize your house 🙂

  • alice says:

    Just to chip in here, it is worth noting that CDs that you burn yourself will not last forever – perhaps a couple of years? It is recommended that you re-burn them every year. Also you should keep them in the dark so make sure to put them into a box especially as you have lovely see through cases without a cover.

  • anne says:

    Just a quick comment from the archivist’s point of view.
    (I suppose you were all dying to have that one…)
    Don’t get rid of original paper prints or negatives once you have digitized them. Store them for future reference, but don’t use plastic or old photo envelopes. The best is to use acid free paper or if you want plastic pockets, use 100% polyester ones.
    Since test has proven that CDs or even DVDs tend to loose written information over time, I would recommend to make updates every five years or so.
    For every photo item it is recommended to store in a cool and dry place, but the most important thing is to avoid big changes in storing climate – and if you can, shelves and storing made out of wood.
    This was kind of a dull comment, I know, but photo material is the most difficult material to keep for a long time so I couldn’t help myself… but then again, not everyone has to think like an archivist: that everything has to be kept forever.
    PS. My own photos are of course very disorganized…

  • Benita says:

    I am keeping them in the dark. 1 point.
    I am keeping them in a wooden cabinet -1 point
    = 0
    I think I’ll just relax and realise not all things are meant for the future 🙂
    Will get an external harddrive and away from home digital storage service though. Just in case.

  • Ksenia says:

    I am storing all of my digital photos on my laptop *but* I have daily backup of my hard drive from the service. I am putting a lot of eggs in those baskets, but it prevents me from having to keep up with maintaining separate physical digital archive media which become obsolete rather quickly. I am planning to make some blurb albums because it’s hard for me to lay even simple scrapbooking projects out in my home – there is not much space and my kids get into everything :-D.

  • Shaquanna says:

    Thank you for sharing how you organize photos, that was a question I had. Do you journal in any of the albums?

  • Benita says:

    I don’t really journal. I only write a few words about the occasion of the photos. I make a travel scrapbook of sorts for Wille though. I’m way behind on it though. Hope to get to it during this holiday…

  • Patia says:

    Wonderful post and comments. Thank you, Benita, and everyone else. I really need to do this.
    Anne, I’m delighted to see an archivist’s point of view.
    One thing I’d like to add (from an amateur perspective) is that it’s important to migrate your archived data when new technology supersedes older technology. For example, CDs and DVDs will certainly be replaced by newer and better technology sooner or later. To avoid getting stuck with storage material that is obsolete, keep migrating it forward.
    (I’m about to take my own advice and have a bunch of old slides transferred to DVD.)
    Benita, a few questions, if you don’t mind:
    1. Did you put your own fabric covers on your albums? If so, what’s your method?
    2. Are you a Mac person or a PC person?
    3. If Mac, what type of DVD labels do you use?
    Thank you!

  • Benita says:

    Patia, I covered them like you would paper on to a school book and then glued the fabric onto the album. Can’t remember which glue it was as it was a few years ago, the more recent ones aren’t covered. I used to work on a Mac about 8 years ago but switched to PC.

  • Patia says:

    Thank you!
    Pretty torti, BTW. I have one who looks similar.

  • Kristin says:

    Benita I’ve recently started reading your blog and love it! I’m always amazed by the generosity of time that bloggers give. Your organization as a hobby and simplicity in lifestyle is something to aspire to.
    This post is beautiful and makes what can be a mess seem so tidy! I myself just dump things in iPhoto and have a Time Capsule for my Mac that backs everything up at night.
    Have you thought about saving your blog to PDF so you can keep a digital copy?

  • Kristin, so glad you’re enjoying it! I havent thought about saving to PDF. Will need to find out what that means and how to do it…

  • Sandra says:

    Wow and thank you for the inspiration. I stumbled upon your post while looking for ideas on getting my thousands of photos in iPhoto organised. I’m terrible at editing out duplicate photos so if I have taken 10 photos of my daughter in the same pose, I might end up keeping and printing 5 of them! I love your tip to delete 80% as it really isn’t necessary to keep all these shots.
    I have printed a few photo albums from iPhoto as family gifts but none for myself. they are beautiful quality and really do help you choose the best photos and have them in album format to look at. I’d love to move to photobooks but I think I still like having the traditional prints.
    Wonderful post! Thank you.

  • Sarah says:

    BTW, Martha Stewart Living magazine, Oct. 2009 issue, reviews the merits of online companies offering publish-your-own photo albums. They’re divided into categories, depending on your needs. Just FYI, if you have access to the magazine & would like to check it out.

  • AMAZING. I AM INSPIRED. May take me a while to get round to it but it’s going on my list! Thank you. x

  • Linda Lowe says:

    I just found your blog! I have a wonderful but overwhelming supply of photos from my parents dating back to the late 1800’s, mostly from the ’30’s on. I’ve been meaning to scan them in for about ten years now. Well, I divided them into decades, put them in different piles, then divided them into years. Thank goodness back then they printed dates on most of them, something I found that stopped in the 70’s and 80’s and on. That made it easier to scan batches, and have a little bit more feeling of accomplishment. I’m going to make a photo book too, and depending on number of pages, print them chronologically, so my brothers and their families can have copies and my kids. I’m looking into Blurb, but I haven’t checked out the others.

  • desiree says:

    your digitals are looking so nice… I am very good myself in organizing things but I was thinking the same of taking of the pictures from my laptop for a back up…. a good moment to organize everything before burning them on cd 😉
    Thanks for this inspirational post!

  • shalini says:

    I need to sort out my pics too. I like your system of burning CD’s per year.
    I’ve made several Blurb books and have been very happy with the results.

  • Nicole Handfield says:

    Lovely post. I have used mypublisher several times and been very very very pleased each and every time. I have used them for engagement portrait deluxe albums (which we used as gifts for our parents at our rehearsal dinner), wedding deluxe albums (very dramatic in size and quality), “life story” book for my husband’s grandmother to commemorate her 90th birthday, and now I make “yearbooks” for our family. I love reading the commentary almost as much as I love looking at the pictures. I also like that you can’t go wrong with their layout choices – they are all classy.

  • desiree says:

    I bought a whole new bunch of cd’s today to get organized in my pc 😉
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Cheree Daley says:

    I had a book printed by Blurb and loved the results. We purchased the premium paper/hardback image wrap book. I did a collection of memories for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday from her children. It was fantastic. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. I loved the way the software worked and the variety of templates they had for photo and text layouts alike.

  • ann says:

    Very motivating! I am trying to organize my heaps of photos and have found a photo place by me that will scan in high resolution 500 photos for 50 dollars. I have done 1000 so far. Now to organize them!

  • Andrea S says:

    hi there!! i love this post… but how exactly can i print dvd stickers like that?? can you recommend the paper/labels and the software?? how did you customize the color??

  • I think the stickers I used were from Avery. I made my own template in Corel Draw and the color is just a block of color that I’ve drawn over the circle in my template so when you peel the sticker off it’s a circle but with the backing on it’s actually a square of color.

  • michele says:

    i made a small book for each of my children using blurb. I used personal photographs as well as copy shop type of photos. I wrote a story to go with it and was able to make lots of chooses regarding type, background page, soft or hard cover, shape, etc. I was really pleased with the product.
    I never thought of it as an avenue for a photo album. Good idea.

  • maya says:

    I’ve printed a couple of books with Blurb…as well as others and I think Blurb is awesome.

  • Vickie says:

    Hi Becky – something I’ve done to help cut down on the amount of stuff yet still keep the memories is taking pictures of or scanning the actual items (kids artwork, grouped birthday, etc, cards), scout uniforms, ballet shoes from long ago (actually laid them on the scanner)). This has helped me to cut down on stuff – I don’t mind then throwing the paper items away — and then bulky keepsakes are stored in my cedar chest.

  • kara says:

    What a great idea! Found you via pinterest and featured this idea on my Facebook page today 🙂

  • curry says:

    I have printed a few Blurb books (large size w/ wrap around cover for just under $100 – all the pics for 1 year). I was pretty happy with it, it’s easy to use and the quality is really good. I have heard mycanvas is also a good site for photo books. I have a smugmug account which hooks up w/ Blurb, so that’s why I used it. hopefully all my pics are safe in my smugmug account.

  • D says:

    I just saw this on Pinterest.
    I’m so jealous that you have your photos so organized. I have a suggestion for your photo books and other great things to do with your photos. I use . Heritage Makers publishes photo books and memory books in much better quality than Shutterfly or Snapfish.
    I’m inspired.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Christy Keyton says:

    I use the digital program by Creative Memories to create photo books. It is called Storybook Creator. You can download it for a 30 day free trial. Love the quality and all the options. I also use their editing and organization software called Memory Manager. It automatically makes a shadow copy of all my photos to an external hard drive every time I close the program. It is GREAT!

  • Emily says:

    I just put my photos in folders on my computer, and then I dumped my entire computer contents onto a 16GB flash drive. That way I have everything backed up. Since CD’s are already pretty obsolete I would suggest an online photo place like Flickr, it’s accessible anywhere you have internet, a external hard drive, or a flash drive.

  • Excellent post on how to store your photographs. I’m curious…HOW did you burn your photos to a disc {CD or DVD}? Did you use a special program or software? I’m looking for the fastest and easiest way to burn my photos onto a CD or DVD. I’m also surprised to find out about discs going obsolete. Where did you hear this? Thanks a million!

  • I don’t remember exactly how I did it, I didn’t make many more after this post. I think the process was as easy as just dragging and dropping. Don’t recall needing a special software. Try googeling “burning CD DVD” and I’m sure there are tons of tutorials. As for discs going obsolete, I think they already are in some respect with all the other online options, memory sticks etc available and considering what we know today about the life span of discs, they don’t last a lifetime as one would wish.

  • cheryl dumais says:

    Just my two cents worth but I have used Shutterfly twice for photo books and on both of them the quality of the photos was very poor. Don’t ask me why I did it twice I feel pretty dumb about that. I have seen books done on blurb and the quality appeared much better to me and the price was lower.

  • djamie says:

    To all of you who have your pics in boxes and photo albums. We got 6 ft of water in our basement from hurricane Irene it had never flooded before! We had several rubbernaid containers full of pics from the last 33 years .. we lost most of them. bins tipped and opened ruining pictures!

  • Tracy says:

    How heart wrenching!

  • Tracy says:

    I have all my digital pics on an external hard drive and backed up on a second external hard drive.
    My BIL owns a photo lab and he makes beautiful books. With his site or any of the others you can download all your pics to their website and then if anything happens to your hard drive you still have them out in web land.
    All my photos are in photo boxes but nothing looks as nice and orderly as yours but I keep trying.
    Thanks for the great ideas.

  • Jennifer says:

    I use an online backup system and it keeps my photos safe (among other things). Carbonitenis who I use for about $60 a year. Started using it after I had an external hard drive fail.

  • Tatiana says:

    I just found your post at Pinterest and absolutely love the idea! I don’t think that CD’s will become overaged at all! As soon as I can I will do this for my photos too! Thanks for sharing!

  • prudence49 says:

    Wow! My head is spinning from all this information! I got your post from my daughter who was on Pinterest.
    Am in the process of buying an Epson printer with a feature that allows you to print your CD or DVD right from software on your PC. You have to have the special ones with white labels, tho. Am glad decided to do this since I read that labels come off, etc.
    If you are reluctant to toss original memorabilia, etc. another option for holding onto them and still displaying them would be to make up or have shadow boxes made up to put on your walls or shelves. You could also make assemblages or collages from photos and souvenirs and hang them as art.
    I have had photo books printed online as well. The one from Kodak was of such poor quality I couldn’t use it. Have seen others printed up by friends and some have been very good quality. Will try the one from Heritage Makers – have not heard of them.
    I too have BOXES of photos, photos on CDs, and in albums that I have been wanting to do something with for YEARS. Have learned a lot from your post and am anxious to try the CD labeling – yours are beautiful – I love the idea of dating them by year and using neat font. Want to do that same idea only using handmade albums with the photos and memorabilia together.

  • Sharon says:

    Nice job organizing! The stickers are making me nervous, though. They bubble and create drag on your cdr drive. Also, have you tested the disks to see that they wrote correctly? I lost trip photos because the writer malfunctioned. I import using Lightroom and store both on an external HD and Smugmug which is a great service because it includes unlimited storage and you can share original files. I also just bought a small feed scanner for all my snapshots.

  • Debi O says:

    I too have also scanned old pictures and children’s momento’s on the computer. I then made a CD disk of everything. I’ve backed everything up on an external drive also. But MOST importantly, I bought a small portable external hard drive, backed that up and it’s in my safe deposit box at the bank. That way, if the house catches on fire or something tragic like that, I still have my backup.

  • Diane Barnett says:

    Just found Pinderest and saw your post regarding buying a small feed scanner. I have an overwhelming number of photos that I need to scan, so I was wondering what brand you bought and your thoughts on the quality. To scan one photo at the time manually might take the rest of my life…..

  • My scanner is an older version of this one by Pleaxgear. I don’t recommend it if you have a lot to scan because it does take a lot of time and the quality’s not great (on the older one I have). There were quite a lot of hick-ups along the way while scanning too.

  • lark says:

    I have used Blurb and was very happy with their software, service and price.Great company!

  • Allison says:

    I love books from Shutterfly (their custom path is my favorite and they have so many beautiful things to add/templates but you’re not stuck and can rearrange everything! Also, my favorite photo saving site is Smugmug. It is a pay site but they back it up in 16 different places and it’s so easy to use and I don’t worry about my computer crashing!! 🙂
    I would like to try Blurb though too….

  • Tammy says:

    Love this! I am a crazy lady and print out yearly CDs and keep an extra copy stored at BOTH my mother’s and sister’s homes (they do the same at my house). Just in case of a fire or major disaster. I have all photos on my external hard drive, and back up the current year’s photos (the ones yet to be burned to a disk) on a travel external hard drive and go as far as to take it with me when I travel internationally, while I keep the big external harddrive in the safe at home. Yep. Crazy lady here!
    I did want to give Blub huge kudos. They are amazing. I print my blog using them at the end of every year. It is a little more expensive than your run of the mill snapfish, but the quality and ease of software is worth every penny.

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