Follow local photographer Lindsey Pantaleo’s tips.

The pictures on your phone, or computer, will keep piling up. So how do you find a resolution? Local photographer Lindsey Pantaleo chatted with us about how to focus your digital photography collection.

Keep your photo roll clean — and your sanity at bay — in a flash with these digital-file organization tips. 

When it Doubt, Back it Up

It’s happened to the best of us: You get a new phone and then lose track of a certain photo from years back, or you drop your current device in water only to realize your photos aren’t saved. Bam. Your photos are gone, lost in oblivion.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. Lindsey encourages backing up your files to the cloud instead of storing locally.

“People take advantage of their computer’s hard drives or the hard drive on their phones,” Lindsey says. “They don’t back up using a cloud-based system, and then they lose their files.”

She syncs her photography as often as possible to Google Drive’s Google Photos, which conveniently links images between phones and computers. You can also opt to automatically backup photos to the cloud.

“I basically delete files off my phone every so often because they all back up immediately,” she says. “It’s a space saver, too, which is amazing. I love Google Drive.”

How to Organize

So how should you go about cataloging your files? Lindsey has no gimmicks. “I’m not very techy,” she says. She arranges folders on Google Drive like she would a hard drive.

To replicate, first create a master folder, where every subfolder will live, for each year. For example, start with one named “2020.” Then think of organizing files like you would a [family] tree,” Lindsey says. 

In her 2020 master folder, Lindsey has a folder for each client or family member. For young children, she suggests sorting folders by months.

Logically sorting your files by how you would search for them is key. Start your subfolders hierarchy with broad subjects, such as “Holidays,” and then nestle nuanced subcategories under this “branch,” like a Thanksgiving or Christmas folder. Group related photos together.

“You’ve got to keep them organized so you can save your memories,” Lindsey says.

Shrink to Save Space

Worried that your large, professional-quality wedding photos or family portraits will monopolize too much storage space?

“I always tell clients if they’re going to put a hundred high-resolution photos on your phone, it’s going to slow you down,” she says.

Don’t forget these mementos. Instead, note which images you want saved directly on your phone. Lindsey has a Sticky Albums app that shrinks down copies of the photos to web-sized versions. She suggests asking your photographer if there’s a certain file size in mind that you’d like. The reduced, web-size pictures will take up only a fraction of memory, so you can treasure them right from your screen.

Cut it Out

Keep stock of what files are on your electronics. Scroll through your photos at least once a year and prune out what you no longer wish to keep. Lindsey makes it a point to review and delete old photos and duplicates every January as a New Year’s resolution.

“Going through your pictures from the following year is, first, a good way to relive the past year and, second, cleans up anything you don’t need anymore,” she says.

Archive leftover pictures you didn’t discard to freshen up your files. You’ll have a clean slate for the first of the year.

Post and Print

Lindsey memorializes her family’s picture-worthy moments and prints her photos with a photo book service.

Her preferred photo book is Chatbooks, a subscription service that prints photo albums straight from an Instagram account. Chatbooks even prints the post captions, which Lindsey suggests as a great way to detail what’s happening in the photo and preserve the memory.

Chatbooks takes the guesswork — and time — out of scrapbooking. With Lindsey’s subscription, after every 60 Instagram photos posted, she receives a hardcover book with her memories printed on archival paper. 

“I don’t feel like you can beat Chatbooks,” she says. “If you have a subscription, you don’t even have to think about it. They create it for me.”

More Photo Book Options

Shutterfly offers unlimited free photo storage, multiple print sizes, and basic page designs. You can also opt to have the book designed for you for an additional fee.

For a monthly subscription, Groovebook lets you upload photos to create a mini (4-by-6) photo book. The pages are also made so you can tear them out and share ’em with others.

The Popsa app offers a quick design process by automatically generating a layout for you and then allowing you to add finishing touches. While their medium- and large-size photo books allow you to print 20 to 150 pages, they also print photo booklets which allow you to print 12 to 20 pages for a cheaper price.

Google Photos
If you already store your pictures in Google Photos, then its Photo Book Maker app might be the most convenient to use. However, these books don’t include designs and they only print as 7-by-7 inch softcover or a 9-by-9 inch hardcover.

Amazon Photos
By uploading your pictures to Amazon Photo, you can create an 8-by-8 or 8-by-11 photo book with small design elements on each page. Amazon Prime members get free unlimited storage space and free shipping for every order. If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, you can still get free shipping with purchases more than $15.