6 Steps to Finally Get Your Digital Photos Organized
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This simple six-step process helps you finally get your pictures in order on your computer, backed up and easily accessible.
Most of us have ventured away from the old, traditional film in favor of the convenience of digital photos. It’s so simple now since cameras are standard on almost all new cell phones, and it seems like we all have one.
Did you know that almost 84% of the digital photos taken never make it off of the SD card? SD cards are even used as storage for some people. Photos never leave the little cards to be fully enjoyed.
Take some time and organize your digital photos once and for all with these 6 simple steps.
Step One: Download
At least once a month, download all of your photos from your camera or phone to your computer. I like to do it more frequently if the month involves a family gathering or some other event that I took more pictures than usual at. If you have an iPhone (like me), you can also set up your iCloud to automatically download your images to your computer or another cloud service. Having an automatic download in place saves some time and you can automatically open the folder on your computer to verify all the images are there. Then I like to delete the downloaded images from my device. Regular downloading your images ensures that you never have to worry about losing them your camera is ever stolen or destroyed.
Step Two: Edit
Make sure you edit your photos for duplicates or shots that you meant to delete but forgot to. Deleting blurry or undesirable images now will save you time when you sort them later. Make sure that you only keep the images that are precious to you. Landscapes or other images without people can be erased. Make sure that you remove the “all images are precious” mentality before you sort your photos. Unless you are going to use the image for a future project (artwork, card, calendar, etc.), it is fine to remove an image that has no emotional attachment to the subject.
Just starting out getting all these images under control? Do not try to do them all at once. That many photos will only overwhelm you and frustrate you. Break it down into short sessions at first. Set a timer for 15-20 minutes and stop once the timer goes off to return later once you have had time to decompress.
Step Three: Make Folders
Now comes the decision on how you would like to organize your photos. Chronologically? By theme? Some other way that you will remember what is where? I like the method of breaking it up into themes such as family, pets, household, vacations, and I always keep a miscellaneous file for those images that I know I want to use later but do not have a specific theme to place them under.
If you do set up a miscellaneous folder, make sure that you are extra tough on the photos you keep. If you cannot name a specific project that you will use it for, then do not keep it. Most of what I keep in this miscellaneous file are photos for my yearly calendar or an art project. If I can’t picture it in a physical form, I delete.
If you want to work chronologically, start with the year, and then subfolders for the months. In order to keep them in the proper order, I recommend using “04” instead of “April” so that the folders will stay in the correct order within the year. (Your computer will alphabetize them, and I don’t live in a world that August comes directly after April, do you?)
Step Four: Rename & File
Now that everything is situated in a logical order on your computer, it’s time to rename all of those photos so they are easier to find when you want them. Ever notice how your images are randomly named with a string of digits? Renaming is important because the odds are that after you delete your image from the device, eventually that digit sequence will be repeated and when you download more images next month, the new image may replace the old image and delete it. *gasp*
If you are using a themed folder technique, I recommend using keywords. For example, if I have a family member in the shot, and it was at a specific event, I name it “city-spouse-thanksgiving-with-aunt” to make sure I can search for him, for Thanksgiving of that year, or for the other person in the photo with him.
Using chronological organization? I would suggest the month, maybe the date, and one keyword just to make sure that it’s easier to find later. Something like, “11-2016-24-thanksgiving-1”.
Once your photos are all renamed, you can now move them into the appropriate folders that you created in Step Three. (Look! You are making progress already!)
Step Five: Back Up
Backing up your images is very important as recovery off of a locked up computer can be difficult and expensive. City Spouse has the ability to do so, but that is because he is one of those “geeks” who builds his own computers and can remove a hard drive from one computer in order to copy it’s contents to a new drive while making sure that the security and integrity are still intact. He even has this neat little device that allows him to remove the hard drive of a laptop in order to retrieve personal data stored on it to clone onto a new computer. (He’s such a tech savvy guy. It confuses me.)
Most of us don’t have the ability to recover our data if our device decides to stop working. Because of that, I highly recommend not only backing up to an external hard drive, (I have this one) but also to an online storage archive, such as DropBox, Evernote, or Amazon Photo.
Just a note, Amazon Photo gives you FREE unlimited photo storage with your Prime annual membership. If you are like me, you have Prime for the free shipping already, and so many other perks, so I highly recommend giving yourself the gift of Amazon Prime this year.
Step Six: Delete
Now that you have all of your photos organized and secure, you can safely erase them from your camera or phone. Deleting ensures that you will avoid accidentally downloading duplicate. It also sets you up a nice clean slate for next month’s set of photos!