Organizing Your Family Photos

As mothers, we wear many hats: charge nurse, head chef, housekeeper, chief financial officer, manager, chauffeur...the list is endless. We're the keepers of everything and the historians of our families. I've found that having tools and systems in place to help keep me stay organized is key for managing my family (and business) life and memories, without loosing my mind. Not that things don't fall apart on me now and again, they do...usually when I slack on my planning and organizing. 

What I want to talk to you about today is my favorite tool for organizing family photos. It's actually my favorite editing software suite, which I use primarily for my photography business, but I have found it to be a powerful tool for organizing my family photos too (phone photos included!). It's Adobe Lightroom Creative Cloud (or CC). 


Lightroom is a software program that photographers have been using for years to catalogue and edit their images. We're not going to get into the editing side here. Instead, we're going to focus on the cataloging features and how you, as a mom, can harness the power of this feature to make it easy to find the photos you're looking for, sort your keepers from your rejects, and compile selections for albums/printing/sharing, AND easily get photos from you phone onto your computer. Sound amazing? It is! And there is so must more to learn than I am about to show you. 

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Now, If you've looked into getting Lightroom, you're probably pretty confused about all of the options. I'm going to help you understand them all and show you how to make the organization features of both Lightroom CC, Lightroom CC Mobile, and Lightroom Classic CC work for you. (Whether you are taking photos with a fancy camera, GoPro, or just your iPhone.) We'll cover all three over a couple of different posts.

The first piece of the suite I want to cover is Adobe Lightroom Classic CC. This is the desktop version of Lightroom, the most functional piece of the suite and my workhorse program. It is what I recommend you start with if you are shooting images on a DSLR or any dedicated camera - meaning you have to take the SD card out and stick it in your computer to transfer the images. Let's dive in...


Lightroom is composed of several modules that allow you to do different things with your images. We'll only be unpacking the Library module where you can import, view, filter, and organize a lifetime's worth of photos. I'm going to take you thru some of the most useful features. I've created (somewhat rambling and oft interrupted by children) videos walking you thru the features and how you can use them. 

Set up and Importing

The first the you need to do to get started is to set up your catalogue and import some photos. This is easier shown than verbally explained, so just watch the video walkthrough. 


The Library module offers several view modes that let you see your photos in different sizes and compare them. 

1) Grid: The grid view displays your photos as thumbnails and gives you an overview of the entire catalogue or specific groups of photos. You can also rotate, sort, organize, and manage images or several images at once.

2) Loupe: The loupe view displays a single photo. Here you can zoom in and out. From the grid view, you can double click a photo to see it in loupe view. 

3) Compare: The compare view allows you to display 2 photos side by side. This is helpful when deciding which photo(s) of a series to keep.

4) Survey: The survey view is like the compare view, but for more than 2 photos. It allows select and view a small group of images and take action on them.

5) People: The people view uses Lightroom's face recognition feature to allow you to tag the people in your photos and search for those people later. As you add names it will suggest names for you to tag. This is brilliant.

Selecting Photos

The left panel in the Library module displays all of the folders of images you have imported. These are mirrors of the folders you have your images stored in on your hard drive. You can use this panel to navigate your folders and easily view certain collections. You can also move images from one folder to another.

Clicking on any image in your photo grid or on the film strip below, makes it an active photo. You can select multiple images by clicking them while holding down the Ctrl key (PC) or Command key (Mac). From here you can set images as keepers or rejects and further label preferred images with star ratings or colors.

Finding and Filtering Photos

When you have hundreds or thousands of images, locating the image your looking for might not be as easy as selecting a folder. This is where the Library Filter bar at the top of the Grid view comes in handy. The filter bar allows you to find photos by various times of metadata: keywords, rating, color label, and more.

Photo Collections (THE BEST PART!) 

Collections are another way to organize photos in Lightroom. They allow you to group photos from anywhere in your catalog in one place for east viewing or performing different tasks. Photos in a collection can be reordered, assembled into a slideshow or used to create a photobook. Additionally, creating and utilizing collections in Lightroom Classic CC is the foundation for syncing images between Lightroom CC and Lightroom CC Mobile.  



Lightroom is a subscription based service. It's $9.99 per month and you can pay that monthly or yearly. Considering how easy it makes backing up and syncing images, attributes, and edits from your phone to your computer and back again, I think it's worth every penny. Especially if you're serious about printing your images or making yearly photobooks of your family photos. There is a 30-day trial available, but only for Lightroom CC (which I will show you next time). Lightroom CC has the same features and functionality of Lightroom Classic CC, but it is cloud based and has a very different looking user interface. 



This was a ton of information and it's just the tip of the iceberg. If you're interested in learning more, sign up to be notified when I host workshops. My workshops are limited to small groups and there is always plenty of time for questions and hands on help. Click here and be the first to know when the next workshop is.