Organization, Photography

How to organize and back up photos and videos

Happy New Year! I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution kind of gal, but I do like to organize my photos and videos at the end of the year. It’s a fun way to reflect on the year with the family, as we watch the video and look at the album when I’m finished!

As I’m organizing and getting ready to print/edit my photos and videos for last year, I thought I’d share my process in case you are thinking of sorting through your own digital media.


Favorite flagged photos in iPhoto

1. Go through the past year’s photos and select favorites.

I keep only my very favorites so they won’t take up too much memory and I’ll have a fighting chance of sorting through them in years to come. I also do any additional color corrections or cropping I haven’t done already.

In my case, I use iPhoto for this process and “flag” photos as I upload them throughout the year. All the flagged photos go in one folder and that serves as my “favorite folder.”


Organize all your photos by year on an external hard drive

2. Save favorite photos on an external hard drive.

I load all my favorite photos into a folder with the year on it and stick it on my external hard drive to keep my local hard drive from getting full and sluggish. I’m using this model right now for Macs. (I keep two running at the same time to back up my computer and store big files. I have two in case one dies, which eventually happens.)


Printable DVD

3. Make a photo DVD.

Next, I make a DVD of all my photos from the year and label it. (I like these printable DVDs.)

You can also upload your photos to a photo storage site, like Flickr, for yet another back up. Sometimes I print 4x6s of my top 15-20 picks, too.


How to organize and back up photos and videos: Yearly photo books take up little space on the shelf. Photos and video DVDS can go in the back

4. Make a yearly photo book.

And finally I make a yearly photo book with all my favorites. I like to attach the photo DVD to the back of the photo book with adhesive sleeves.

I’ve been using My Publisher for almost a decade, and I love the uniform look of the books and the small amount of space they take on the shelf. It looks like Costco has some great prices on photo books to consider too. Here’s a more detailed post on how I make my photo books with downloadable year graphics.


Back up photos and videos yearly so you can clean up your sluggish hard drive

5. Delete last year’s photos off your computer.

Now that my favorite photos are on my external hard drive, backed up on a DVD, and in a photo book, it’s safe to press the delete button. I clear the hard drive of the last year’s photos and make way for what the new year has to bring!

I even take it one step further and delete old photos off my camera and phone so I can start fresh.

Backing up photos



Take short 60-second miniclips instead of long shots for easier editing

Here is the most important piece of videoing information I learned after making an epic trilogy of Luca’s first year: If you make the video long, no one will want to sit through it!

So, this is what I do now:

Don’t record everything.
And don’t record for long periods of time.

The key is to film short little bits of life. I try to hold myself to a minute or less. Yes, when your baby is learning to crawl for the first time, it is fascinating to you, but the fam probably won’t want to sit around and watch 15 minutes of junior flopping on his cute little belly in eight years. Try for 60 seconds or less. Some of my clips are only 7 seconds long and still get the point across. If you record short little snippets like this, by the years end you won’t have the monumental task of editing and compiling.

Here is how I organize my videos:

iMovie video editing |

1. Fit a year’s worth of video clips into one hour-long movie.

I gather all my video snippets from my phone and camera and compile them together in iMovie. I try to whittle them down to one hour because it’s short enough that we’ll want to watch it together as a family. And then I export it as one 60-minute Quicktime video.


2. Add Quicktime video to Family Movies folder on external hard drive.

I back up my movie, labeled with the year, to my external hard drive.


Store backup DVDs of photos and videos in the back of yearly photo books

3. Put family movie on a DVD.

I put our videos on a DVD and attach it to the back of my photo book for the year.

As far as I know, you can’t just put a Quicktime video on a DVD and play it in the DVD player. I use iDVD to format the video and create a menu structure the player can read. (You can use the same DVDs I mentioned above if the video is short — about an hour or less. Otherwise, you’ll have to buy double-sided DVDs.)


4. Delete past year’s videos off the hard drive.

Again, now that you’ve backed up your home movies, it’s time to press the delete button and clear your hard drive. I’m always surprised how much faster my computer responds after it’s not overwhelmed with tons of video.

Backing up home videos

Now that I have my little routine down, all of this takes me about three hours, not including the time it takes to burn the DVDs.

If this process overwhelms you because you have too many years of photos and videos on your hands, just start with this year. If you already have your own process, please share. I’d love to hear your tips!

How to organize and back up photos and videos

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8 thoughts on “How to organize and back up photos and videos

  1. Great idea. My only other suggestion would be to an off-site storage solution in case of disaster. I have Office 365 Home which includes unlimited OneDrive storage.

  2. I used InDesign to create the labels, and it looks like I no longer have the font I used! A good free substitute would be Didot though.

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