Digital Photo Organization – Using Apple Photos and Shutterfly

digital photo organization

Happy New Year!  I’m hoping to be hanging around the blog a lot more this year.  I just finished reading my first book of the year – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – and I highlighted a part that ended up being a little kick in the butt for me.  “A dead website was a sad thing, she thought.  Full of hope when it had been set up, and now floating away down the Google drain, gently decaying.”  So I’m hoping to not float away this year and instead do the opposite…grow some good blog roots.

I usually get pretty motivated in January to create photo books.  My goal is to create family yearbooks every year.  Unfortunately, I’m way behind.  The only book I have actually printed is the first half of 2014.  I have the 1st half of 2015 mostly finished.  Nothing is done for the 2nd half of those years or any of 2016.

I make my photo books in Shutterfly and I use Apple’s Photos app for storing all my photos on my Mac.  Part of what holds me up in creating a photo book is culling through all of the photos to figure out which are the best.  In the past I have uploaded photos by month to Shutterfly.  But then I set my iPhone so that photos automatically backed up to Shutterfly.  I was glad for an automatic backup for my photos, but this ended up being a very poorly edited set of photos and I realized that I would have to delete the excess on both my Photos app and Shutterfly.

So for 2016, I decided to go back to my original method of organizing/editing/deleting in Photos and then uploading by month to Shutterfly.  But I took it up a notch in organization.  For the family yearbook, I only wanted family pictures with maybe a few of my quilts and home projects.  I set up a process that I went through for each month.  My plan was to work on a month at a time, maybe one month each day, so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.

The process in Photos for each month went like this:

  1.  Create a Smart Album by date that includes all photos in that month.How to Create Smart Album for a Month
  2. Look through the album for that month and delete – pare down to the best photos and get rid of any other digital shots/downloads that weren’t really meant to be kept.
  3. Use keywords to tag certain photos.  I have keywords for my dog, quilts, sewing, house projects, organization, etc.
  4. Once the album has been “pruned” go back and edit the Smart Album.  Add more filters to get only the photos that will go in the family album.  I removed photos with certain keywords so that quilt pictures and organization/home projects were no longer in the album.  I also removed any movies.Edit Smart Album
  5. Upload that month’s pictures and add them to a new album in Shutterfly.

The next step will be to actually make the photo book!  Sometimes I can get bogged down in creating the perfect Shutterfly layout for my pictures but I’m hoping that by focusing on a month at a time that only has the best pictures will move this process along.

Once I had decided on this method and felt like I had a plan, I went through the Smart Album process for all of 2016 in two days.  It turned to be fun to look back at the pictures and my kids even helped at times. My daughter was very helpful in encouraging me to delete bad pictures of her!

I should also note that I will be doing a little more digital organization to organize the photos not in the family album and also upload them to Shutterfly, but in separate albums.  I am also thinking about using Google Photos as another form of backup.  I “heard” through the internet grapevine that as you edit/delete in Photos, those changes happen automatically in Google Photos.  Something I will check out!

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