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My Personal Photo & Video Organizing System

December 26, 2023

Hi, I'm britt.
Mom & wife
Portrait Photographer
Album Designer
Super nostalgic
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Nostalgic. It’s me lately. Anyone else feeling it?

With the year coming to a close, I naturally find myself doing a lot of reflection. This year brought tremendous growth and change for our family and though there were periods of time that were stressful and challenging, my heart is overwhelmingly full of gratitude. So, mission accomplished. 2023 was a win 👏🏼

Photos by Amy J. Owen

Thinking back, our year was full! I recently sat down and did an exercise that I found helpful for remembering all of the pivotal moments of 2023. We are in a season of life with kids growing so crazy fast that I don’t want to forget any of the good stuff, big or small, or the ways we spent time together and made memories.

Ready? 👉🏼 Pull up your Amazon Photos, iCloud, or photo backup source of choice and go back to January. Quickly scroll through the photos from the month and jot down the highlights or memorable moments. Repeat all the way through December!

That’s it! You just summarized your year and it probably feels so good to have all of that documented! Print it out, save it in a Google Doc for now, or like I will do this year, incorporate it into your 2023 family yearbook.

I’ve been using this reflective period to reevaluate our family’s memory keeping system. For moms, that task naturally falls on us and it is a lot of responsibility.

My goal is to beautifully curate our family’s visual legacy so that it can be enjoyed often and easily, and so that our kids will always know what made them who they are: the experiences, the places, the people. It’s for them, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also for us. I find myself looking at photos of my husband and I, our dogs who were pivotal in the early years of our family, and my stepson who is nearly a grown man. Our photos and video are SO important, but I’ve found that I can simultaneously be so grateful for all of the memories, while also being overwhelmed by them.

Having this system makes deciding the how, where, and what to do with our personal photos simple. Simple = doable.

I took some time to sort through our family albums and picture boxes and have listed out our system below. This list is by no means the best way to do things, but simply what works best for our family.

  • Annual Yearbook – this is an affordable, consumer grade book that encompasses our entire year. It is mostly iPhone photos with any professionally taken photos or my big work camera photos sprinkled in chronologically.
  • Both our little kids have a newborn book/album. This is one area I wish I’d thought through more, but Weston’s book encompasses photos from my entire pregnancy through professional newborn photos, and Hayden’s album is only her professional newborn photos since I did not document that pregnancy as much, no baby showers, etc. Her bump and pregnancy specific photos are in our 2019 yearbook. — If I could do it over, I’d have included all of Weston’s bump & baby shower photos in our 2017 yearbook and made his album professional newborn photos only to match Hayden’s.
  • Every big trip/vacation we have been on has a consumer grade book + accompanying video
  • Each house we have built (2) has a consumer grade book + the new house has a video
  • Both our little kids have a baby book that spans birth to age 5
  • Both our little kids have a memory box that spans preschool to graduation
  • We have many seasonal and “day in the life” type home videos but do not currently do one big video for each year. However, 1SE is a great solution for anyone who loves the idea of a yearly home video.
  • Miscellaneous loose prints live on our refrigerator for a period of time, and then go into a large decorative box for storage. We have one box of “old” photos (random photos from my husband and I’d childhood, basically before our family began) and one box of photos from when we started dating to present day.

To be transparent, both our moms still have nearly all of our childhood photos and home videos and though we do reflect on these photos with them from time to time, those are not photo we’ve taken possession of or have a storage system in place for yet. This is a system that just goes from when we started our own family to now.

So, what kinds of books/albums do we use?

  • For yearbooks and trips, I purchase Blurb books, which are an affordable consumer grade solution.
  • For major life milestones (Engagement, Wedding, Newborn, Senior Graduation),  we invest in heirloom quality linen or leather albums available through photographer only labs. I definitely intend on having family portraits made in the future that I would consider a milestone as well.

We have had a professional family portrait session 3 times since newborn portraits and those photos are included in our yearbook, and our ultimate favorites are framed and hung throughout our home. If family portraits are something you do every couple of years and you don’t feel your family is otherwise documented very much, I would certainly argue the case of family portraits being worthy of an heirloom quality album. I hope by the time our kids are grown, we have 2-3 heirloom family albums that mark different periods of their childhood in a more heirloom way than our yearbooks.

This may seem like quite the system, but I find it to be fairly straightforward and it helps me make decisions so much quicker. Decision paralysis and general overwhelm is the #1 cause of never doing anything of prominence with your photos, and that is NOT what we want.

If you have any questions about where to get started or how to make the most of your family’s memories, I’d love to talk! You can reach me here or email directly to britt@brittcroft.com.

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