How To, Photography

Photography: Organize your Digital Photos

With thousands of pictures on my hard drive, I finally came to the realization that I’m drowning in digital pictures. The uploading and “organizing” process I’ve been using over the last two years isn’t working. Being consistent with photo organization is a crucial thing, especially if you upload on a regular basis. The unorganized mess I’ve been dealing with for a while now finally caught up with me and I decided to start off the new year with a clean photo library. I came up with 10 tips that will surely get you photo organized.

There’s more! Read on…

1. Create General Category Folders/Albums or “Umbrella” Folders first. 
Instead of having several folders like “Christmas Party” or “My 25th Birthday” all over the place, first create general category folders like “Birthdays” or “Holidays.” This will help you narrow it down by category and event instead of browsing through hundreds of mini folders in random places. For example, instead of browsing through all of your folders to find “New Years Eve 2011” you can go straight to “Holidays” and you know that anything related to NYE will be under this category. 

2. When creating general category folders, make a list of categories you find yourself using the most. 
Here’s what I created to give you some ideas:
  • Birthdays
  • Photography
  • Blog
  • Friends & Outings
  • Family
  • Travel
  • Holidays
  • Special Events
  • Misc. 
3. Once you’ve created Category/Umbrella Folders, Create Sub-Folders. 
Now that you have all of your general categories created, start adding sub-folders for events you feel are appropriate. For example: 
  • Birthdays
    • Mom’s 50th Birthday Party
    • Dad’s 50th Birthday Party
  • Photography
    • Food Photography
    • People Photography
    4. Take Advantage of Tags, Keywords, and Labels Through Photo Uploading Programs
    For so long I ignored these notifications when I uploaded photos, but now I take full advantage of them. Tag your photos with appropriate keywords for easy search. I suggest tagging a photo with two tags: A general tag and a more detailed tag. Not only does this make for easy searching, but on most photo programs you can organize by tag or keyword. iPhoto on Mac’s have a great keyword system where you can create Smart Albums organizing by keywords. Microsoft programs also offer tagging that helps you stay organized by photo type. 

    For example: I have this photo tagged with the following keywords for easy searching: 

    General Keyword: Vacation
    Detailed Keyword: Savannah, Georgia 

    5. Delete Duplicates, Unnecessary, or Blurry Photos
    Why waste all of that precious space on your computer? Do you really need 25 pictures of your newborn niece napping? They’re all the same! Narrow it down to the photos you really want to keep as you upload them. Don’t wait until later to do it. Do it right away, look through the album you just uploaded and start deleting and tagging. Why keep a blurry photo? Do you need six outfit pictures for your blog where you look exactly the same in every photo? Just like you do in real life, keep what you need! 

    6. Back it Up!  
    Back up your photos in any and every way you can think possible. Upload to photo sites, create albums on Facebook, your blog, throw them on a disc or external hard drive. Whatever you decide, just make sure you do it. If your computer crashes, that’s the end of your photos – probably forever. 

    7. If your photo uploading software has a “sync” option to a third-party site like Flickr, use wisely
     Syncing means just that, it’s going to sync it. So if you remove something from your photo software like iPhoto, it’s gone on Flickr. Don’t sync, just upload. Been there done that and it’s a complete nightmare. 

    8. Don’t Just Back Up, Consider Backing Up and Deleting. 
    If you upload hundreds of photos a month on your computer, why not back up every batch on a CD, website or external hard drive and then delete them from your computer to free up space? You can keep a few of your favorites from the batch, or the ones you think you will refer back to frequently in your library, but remove the bulk of them. If you need them again, you still have access to them. 

    9. Printing and CD Storing
    The most difficult thing for me to keep up with is printing my photos. It’s supposed to be convenient now in the digital age, but I find it to be most inconvenient.  I decided to copy every single batch of photos that I upload to a CD and save them in a box. Every event is on a different CD. So when I find myself full of motivation to go to the store, I can just grab the event I want to print. This can be a little costly, but I was lucky enough to find an entire shelf of blank CDs at Marc’s discount store for $1.60 a pack. I bought the entire shelf and this system has been working wonders for me. My photos have never been this organized and it makes me feel good to know that all of my photos are backed up. Blank CDs really aren’t as expensive as they used to be. Look around at discounted stores like Big Lots or Wal-Mart for good deals.

    10. Delete Photos Before Uploading
    There are times when you’re taking pictures you don’t want to miss a beat so you end up with over 100 photos for a single event. Many of them might be duplicates, some bad shots and so on. When I’m sitting around reviewing photos on my camera, I start deleting as much as I can on my camera before I upload them all to my computer. I mostly delete the shots that I know for a fact I won’t want to keep. Be careful and only delete the ones you are positive you don’t want to upload because a lot of photos may look differently once you upload them on to a  larger screen and many can be saved with a little editing.

    How do you stay photo organized?