How I Store, Print and Backup my Photos

By Saturday, July 13, 2013 ,

1. I Take a photo (during year 2013 *or whichever year it is*)

My two go to cameras are a Mark ii DSLR for serious photography then the Lumix LX7 as my day to day camera.



2. Then Upload to an External Hard Drive in “2013 Originals”  folder. Each month has it’s own folder inside the “2013 Originals” folder. “01-2013, 02-2013, etc”


The portable externals are so much easier to use. They only have one USB cord. 500GB is good for most people. I take around 3-5,000 photos a year so the 1tb is better for me.

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3. I Edit in Lightroom using the “2013 Catalog”. I don’t keep every photo. I try to keep photos for each event or photo shoot to under 30. Special vacations such as Disney require a bit more of course. Point is pick your favorites and photos that “tell the story”. 20 photos of a pink flower won’t mean anything to you years down the road.


I use Lightroom for 99% of my editing because it organizes and protects my originals plus it’s much faster for editing many photos quickly.

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4. Save/Export to the External Hard Drive at it’s original size, 3:2 ratio (click for explanation of ratios and why they matter), JPG format in a “2013 Finished” folder. After the year is up and I’m through editing all my photos this will be the only digital copy I keep. All the original/unedited photos will be deleted.

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5. Upload to a Photo center. I use Wal-Mart since it’s cheap (9 cents home delivery). Print 4x6’s of all the photos.

6. Store 4x6’s in a safe place. We have a large safe that is fire resistant. They are simply stored in a photo box. Usually 2-3 years can fit in one box even if you’re like me and take a ton of photos each year. Just be picky about which ones you keep.


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Extra Protection:

I also have a Backup External Drive which I sync monthly to my main external, it stays in our safe. If my main external ever crashes or my kids decide to take it swimming in the toilet (hopefully not) I have my backup.

I burn a disc of each year’s “finished” JPG photos and place it in the safe too. So if by chance BOTH my externals ever crash I still have a disc. Labels on these were made using a Lightscribe Burner.



For displaying the photos I make a Blurb book. This stays in our living room for sharing and enjoying. Each year I make one with the photos of the previous year. You can see more photos of mine here.


This may sound like a lot of work but I honestly spend 1-2 hours per month working on photos and that’s it. At the end of each month I do all these steps and by the end of the year I’m all caught up and ready for the next year. Pictures are important to me. My mom has always held onto and took care of photos from my childhood. Having those photos means a lot, I love looking through them. We also have photos of our ancestors all the way back to the 1800’s. We’re photo people. If you’re not then simply remove a few steps and find a system that suites your needs.

If you don’t want or can’t afford a safe there are other options that include “off site storage”. Such as have a second external at a family members house or backup your photos to a storage website. I’ve tried both but having my second external off site was a pain and uploading took forever due to the amount of photos I have. But no one option is right for everyone, this is just the method that has worked for me. Keeping your photos in one place (like I do) always runs the risk of wiping out your entire collection with one good fire. Something to keep in mind.

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All my videos and cd’s are kept in another photo box. It’s also backed up on my externals. Video really isn’t my thing but I still hold onto the footage we’ve captured over the years.

*Any large photos 5x7+ are just stored in a large plastic folder in the safe. I don’t have many of them, just odds and ends.