As a photographer who began as a scrapbooker, printing my images has always been a high priority.

I photograph my children as much for the future generations of our family, as I do for myself.

So, how they will view these images has to be considered.

I can hardly imagine my great-grandchildren cuddled around the computer, sorting through my external harddrives “oohing and awing” over photos of their granddaddies as children!

But I can most definitely see them sprawled on the floor, surrounded by organized albums, viewing and reading their stories.

brothers looking at family pictures

It is with this vision that I motivate myself to print my favorite images each month. Not just those that impress me with composition and beautiful colors and backgrounds, but those that tell the story of their life.

Doing this can be a daunting task if a consistent workflow is not followed from import to output. I so strongly encourage other photographers to print their personal images that I wanted to share my simple workflow here.

When I insert my CF card into my card reader, the images automatically open into Lightroom. Where I upload them to is critical to keeping them all organized … subfolders are my best friend when it comes to file organization!

My system looks like this …

how to organize personal pictures on the computer by Lacey Meyers

Pictures > Year > Month > Activity (which describes the set of photos and is the file name)

And within that ‘activity,’ I will typically have three subfolders…. ‘To Edit’, ‘Print’, and ‘Web’.

When I export my culled/RAW processed images from Lightroom, I place them into my ‘To Edit’ folder.

Once in Photoshop I open those images, edit, and use Image Processor to save them into a new folder called ‘Print’. All of these images stay open in Photoshop and I will run my Web Re-size and Sharpen action.

Those are then saved via Image Processor into another new folder called ‘Web’. I then ‘Close-all’, being careful NOT to save all changes, and I’m done!

Now, when it comes time to order my prints, a simple process begins.

  1. On my desktop I will create a folder titled with the month and ‘print’ (for example, FebMarchPrint if I’m printing images February and March).
  2. I open this folder on my desktop, along with my ‘Pictures’ folder and view them both side by side.
  3. Navigate to the month folder holding all of my subfolders and images from that month.
  4. All I have to do is go into the subfolder ‘Print’ and Ctrl+left click on each image I want to print.
  5. Once I’ve selected those to print (probably not ALL of the images in this folder) I right click on one of them to ‘copy’.
  6. Paste into the ‘FebMarchPrint’ folder.
  7. Then copy this folder into External Harddrive for backup.
  8. I then import this file back into Lightroom, and then export right back out but changing the file size to 4x6inch and 300 dpi, into a Print subfolder within the main “FebMarchPrint” folder. This makes the next step go a lot quicker!
  9. Upload the entire ‘FebMarchPrint’ folder to your printer of choice (mine is ColorInc) and go from there!
storing pictures to order on desktop screenshot by online photo instructor Lacey Meyers
computer organization for photos by Lacey Meyers 5

So, what to do with your images after you receive your beautiful, freshly printed stack?

Put them in albums. I use 12×12 D-Ring American Craft because of their price, durability, cohesiveness with my home décor and ease for adding and removing pages.

Within the album I use a variety of page protectors such as any of these.

photo album for photographers personal pics 6
scrapbooking photo album by Lacey Meyers

I love having a variety of orientations and sizes on the page protectors so I can mix landscape and portrait orientated images cleanly without making the page look confusing.

In addition to my photos, I also use at least one of these spaces for journaling and title pages I create in Photoshop. How valuable is it to have your thoughts and descriptions about the event, accompany the photos!

Your great-grandchildren will surely appreciate this! Plus, this gives me the creative outlet that scrapbooking is, yet in a fraction of the time.

making a scrapbook album of your pictures
personal photos in an album by Lacey Meyers
how to organize and print personal photos

You may wonder how you will find the time to do this on top of taking the photos, editing the photos, and learning how to improve your photos.

Please trust me when I say that once you figure out an organized flow like I have outlined here it is not a daunting task, but one you can (and should!) look forward to. Seeing your images in print is amazing and is a priceless gift to your family.

A few more tips to remember:

  1. If you are staring at years of unprinted photos, start with your most recent and work your way back.
  2. Print monthly! Breaking it down into smaller amounts of photos will make this go much quicker.
  3. Wait for your lab to have sales on their express proofs. ColorInc often has 19 cent 4×6’s that I love to take advantage of!
  4. Write your To-Print date on your calendar, the same day each month.
  5. Just do it. I have to tell myself this each month and if you have to organize your prints with a child on your lap, so be it. You’re getting it done! Yay!