Mar 3rd 2023

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of photos on your phone or computer, you’re not alone. Professional photo organizer Casey von Stein, aka Miss Freddy, helps people get past the digital clutter so they can actually enjoy scrolling through their photo library. After spending 10 years as a professional photographer, she started creating online courses to share her tips for keeping up with your photos. We chatted with Casey to find out how to get started with your photo organization.

First off, why is photo organization important?

Our camera rolls have become a source of stress and overwhelm instead of the joy that photos are supposed to be! Once our photos are organized and properly backed up, we can restore the fun and enjoy our photos again. We can use the photos in fun ways like making photobooks, creating custom videos, easily ordering photo gifts, and more.

What’s the most common question you get asked about photo organization?

The most common question is “Where do I start?” Where most people tend to start is with the junk. They sit down and start scrolling back through their camera roll, deleting blurry photos or screenshots until they quickly get tired and abandon the project.

My answer is ignore the junk for now and instead focus on what matters most. In my opinion this is getting all of your photos into one place and then creating a solid backup system. Once those two steps are complete, you can come back to the junk/cleanup or you can focus on using/enjoying the photos instead if that matters more to you!

So the answer to “Where do I start?” is to write down a list of the places your photos/videos are currently saved (ex: cloud services, old hard drives, old computers, CDs, etc).

taking a photo with an iphone

Do you have any specific tips for iCloud/Apple Photos?

The biggest mistake I see with iCloud users is trusting iCloud exclusively. iCloud is a sync not a backup, so even if you see those photos on multiple devices, I only consider it one copy. Backup best practice is to have three copies of your photos, so if your photos are currently only in iCloud, prioritize making an additional copy. An external hard drive is my personal favorite.

A more fun tip is to fall in love with Search and Albums! These are the keys to finding your photos easily as our camera rolls continue to grow in size. Searching by person, place, thing, date, source, even text (within a photo or screenshot!) is a game changer. It's all automatic and continues to improve as tech advances.

Albums are my other favorite tool to find what I need. My most used albums are the "Best Of" Albums for each family member (even the dog) and my "Home" Album of before + after photos of house projects. Remember that Albums do not create additional copies of your photos (they reference the original photo in the Library), so you can make as many albums as you want without increasing the size of your library or requiring more cloud storage space. You can even include the same photo in multiple albums, if needed!

Finally, when you are ready to tackle the junk, a Daily Delete habit is really helpful. Take 2 minutes at the end of the day to review your camera roll and make decisions + delete the junk. You have to do your dishes every night and cleaning your camera roll can be the same. Limiting the cleanup to only one day makes it small, quick and not overwhelming. If you want extra credit, you can type today's date into the search bar (love that search!) without a year (ex: February 7) and do your Daily Delete on those search results. Again, this keeps a nice boundary so you don't get exhausted with the cleanup, but after a year's time your library will be sparkling clean!

hard drive for organizing photos

How can organizing your photos make it easier for you to create photo albums/photobooks?

Albums within Photos are so helpful here! Create an Album for your project with the photos you'd like to include. If you select the photos first, before trying to design the book, I find you'll be more likely to finish the project. You'll bring only the Album of your selections into the book design stage, instead of your entire camera roll, and it makes it so much easier to get the photos onto the pages.

What stops most people from organizing their photos?

For most people it’s either fear of making a mistake and losing valuable photos, a lack of confidence around technology, or simply a lack of time. My Backup Bootcamp™ online course has step-by-step video instructions to help overcome that fear and give a solid path of action. Or you can consider hiring a Professional Photo Organizer to do this work for you!

laptop on stand

What are your top 3 photo organization tips?

1) Ignore the junk (for now).

2) Establish a Photo Hub. Make a list of all your photo sources and copy everything into one place!

3) Let technology help. When your photos are all in one place, you can use features like automatic duplicate removal to clean up, facial recognition and keyword search to find exactly what you need to see faster, and memories to experience your best photos all over again. It's surprisingly fun!

If people want to learn more about photo organization, where should they go?

My website has information about my services. I organize digital photos for clients all over the world using screen share technology! I also offer many self-paced online courses to help you tackle all the photo projects on your list. Finally, I share lots of free tips + tricks on my Instagram account @miss.freddy.

headshot of miss freddy

About Miss Freddy

Casey von Stein, aka Miss Freddy, is a certified Professional Photo Organizer in Golden, Colorado. After 10 years as a professional photographer, she realized that what people really needed was HELP organizing and enjoying their photos. She offers remote organizing services for clients worldwide and self-paced online courses for those who want to tackle their photo mess on their own.

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