[Save Life Photos] WBS Photo Organizing Tips

Guest Post from DigiDaddy

Today I was talking with some old classmates on social media about my recent post Save Life Photos] Step 2: Collect and Build Timelines“, I feel that sorting your photos and films with proper categorizations in the early stages is very critical. If it is well done, what you do afterwards – be it organizing or digitizing – will be a lot easier down the track. “Well begun is half done” so the saying goes.

This Save Life Photos project originally was to help us keep our life’s memories, to relive the good times for ourselves and friends. The process and the result should be an enjoyable one; it should not be a project to cultivate one’s willpower and hone one’s patience.

The point is to use the method. Don’t just think that if you work hard, you will get a result. Diving into the project enthusiastically, if not coupled with appropriate method, may lead you to frustration and impatience and then very probably your giving-up halfway through.

What method?

Have you heard of WBS? WBS is a commonly-used method in project management. I think WBS is super useful. . Not only do I use it at work, but also in my day to day life, like arranging a family trip or organizing the preservation of my photos and films.

WBS is the abbreviation for “Work Breakdown Structure”. Don’t be intimidated by this phrase. In fact, aside from sleeping, we live and breathe with this method every day. You may not be using WBS as a project manager or product manager, but you could be responsible for one or more deliverables assigned to you as a result of work decomposition by WBS or most likely the one who reaps the rewards of this method. 

Preserving life photos is an ongoing project. New photos and films are constantly being generated, continuously adding to the films and photos of the past . In order to keep yourself happy and the work easy, you must have a plan, use the right tools, and the appropriate methods. Here are some tips I have learned from applying the WBS method in organizing my collection of family photos.


WBS Photo Organizing Tip One

Like I said in [Save Life Photos] Step 2: Collect and Build Timelines“, divide life into several major milestones and establish timelines. Next, categorize the photos, films, and other memories according to the timelines. Actually, this is applying the WBS method to first break down and categorize, then decompose and breakdown further work into several work packages.

You work on one work package each time. Thus, you will be able to determine these in each work package: what needs to be done, how long it will take, how to do it, and what your goals are.

Is there an accepted standard for how to divide work packages? In my experience, it can be summarized into two principles:

1.       Based on the number of photos and films for each milestone

You can roughly treat each milestone as one work package. If there aren’t too many photos or films for one milestone, you can combine two milestones into one work package; however, if there are too many for one milestone, then more time is needed to complete the work, so divide it further into smaller work packages.

2.        Based on the time you can spend

Perhaps you have limited time available over the coming weekend and may not be able to complete the current work package, then divide that work package into two smaller work packages.

Looking at piles of photos, films, tools, and miscellaneous goods on the table could make you feel anxious. If you know you can’t finish it all, divide the work again to sizes you know you can complete, then you don’t need to worry about those anxious feelings.


WBS Photo Organizing Tip Two

Only put the current work packages of photos and films in your work space.

Return any photos and films that don’t need to be processed back into your collection.

Not only will this reduce potential damages to those precious old photos and films, but you can also deal with these in a leisurely way, and recall those memories as you organizing along the way.


WBS Photo Organizing Tip Three

Don’t be greedy and try to finish all the work in one go.

Don’t overestimate yourself. Divide your work up evenly according to what time you can realistically set aside. By doing this, you won’t pause halfway, give up or ruin the fun by trying to race to the finish line. Remember, the process of saving your life’s photos is just as important as the result, both should be enjoyable.


WBS Photo Organizing Tip Four

Don’t just do a single repetitive task until it bores you; for example, devoting yourself only on putting all the photos and films into the scanner and to turn them into digital files. We are only human, not machines. These repetitive actions will eventually make you lose your mind.


WBS Photo Organizing Tip Five

Many people have a misconception that the purpose of photo organization is to scan photo prints into electronic files, and that’s all. In fact, this is only the smallest part of the project.

Well, what else is there to do?

For example:

  • You can adjust the image quality and crop the image appropriately, especially with old photos. Because of the camera optics, photo paper, film developing and printing technologies, and photography skills of the old times, complicated by how they are kept all these years, your old photos can be faded, have creases, or off-center and out of focus , etc… By adjusting the scan settings before scanning and the post-scanning image editing, these old photos are not only reborn as digital files, but are far clearer than their paper counterparts.
  • Establish the file naming rules for the scanned files,  and avoid meaningless file names like “IMG0001”, “IMG0002”, “IMG0003″…
  • Fill in tags and keywords in the file description. In some cases, give a brief description of each category, then store it in a subfolder.

Sounds complicated and tedious? You may be surprised to realize that after doing it once or twice, you will find a rhythm and begin to do it easily.


Think about why you do this.

Afterward, you can enjoy recalling the memories and quickly find the photos you want to see, and the photos are in immaculate condition (color, clarity, reproduction…).

I am not an expert on visual design, and even I can do it easily; you can do it also. I will share my experience on this in future articles

This guest post was originally written in Chinese by DigiDaddy and localized into English by Plustek Connect digitization expert team with the author’s permission.

One Comment on “[Save Life Photos] WBS Photo Organizing Tips

  1. Pingback: [Save Life Photos] Step 4: Retake or Scan Old Photos?

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