Organizing Your Digital Photos

The following post is from Michelle of Tech Geek Girl:

source: R0Ng

One of the greatest things about digital photography is the ability to take photos of just about anything and everything without worry about the cost of film or developing. The downside is that,  if you’re anything like me, you probably have a ton of photos at the end of a busy holiday season of celebrating with family and friends. With the help of some software and easy file organization tips, you can keep your digital memories from turning into digital clutter.

 Naming Schemes

source: Michelle Mista

To help you quickly identify your photos, choose a naming scheme for your photo folders. I tend to take a lot of photos and find it is easiest for me to organize my photo folders by year and month. I also like to include both the date and the event to help me remember what’s what. In this example,I have a folder named “0101-NewYearsBrunch”.  At a glance, I know that these photos were taken on January 1st at the New Years Brunch party I had with my friends.

Cull

I know, it seems sort of counterproductive to delete the photos you spent so much time snapping. But just like physical clutter, holding on to digital photos that you don’t want can make it more difficult to sort through the ones you do want.

Ask yourself: Does this photo capture a memory you want to cherish or share with friends and family? If the answer is yes, keep it. If not, hit “delete” and move on. But you don’t have to be ruthless about it. While professional photogs need to weed out the obviously bad or unworkable shots for their clients, these are your personal photos, your memories. If there’s a shot that’s blurry, under or over exposed, or not well composed, don’t worry about it! All that matters is if you like the photo.

Software

Using a good photo organization application can really help you prevent your digital memories from turning into digital clutter. Macs have iPhoto pre-installed as part of the Mac OS X iLife Suite while Windows users can download Windows Live Photo Gallery free from the Microsoft website.

As great as these two native applications are, my personal favorite is Google Picasa (free, Windows/Mac/Linux) which I have used for years and have always been very happy with. If you want a commercial solution, popular contenders include Adobe Photoshop Elements (Windows and Mac) and ACDSee (Windows/Mac.)

All of these applications have the ability to help you visually sort and organize your photographs. Most of these applications allow you to collect your photographs into different albums and also have some nifty added bonuses too like uploading to popular photo sharing websites, tagging and basic editing functions.

Archive

Storing your digital photographs on your hard drive is great for the short-term but to safeguard your memories, you’ll need a more permanent solution. One of the problems with trying to find the “right” solution for long term digital archiving is that storage technology and media is always changing. (Remember when a stack of 3.5″ disks were the height of portable storage? Anyone?)

For now, optical storage — ie. DVD or CD — is a stable and cost-effective method for long-term storage. Burn your digital photos to disk at regular intervals (6 months is a good round number) and store your archive disks in a safe, temperature controlled spot like a fire-proof safe.

You can also upload your images using a cloud storage services like DropBox or Mozy. Cloud storage is a great secondary backup plan but cloud storage services often have monthly or annual fees. Digital images can also take up a lot of space which can also add to your cloud storage service costs.

What is your favorite photo organizing application? Do you have any special tricks you use to keep your photo collection from taking over your computer?

 

Michelle Mista is an IT professional, freelance writer and blogger. A lifelong geek, she blogs the latest in tech news, tips & tutorials at Tech Geek Girl and muses about motherhood at Mommy Misadventures. She is on the constant quest to balance life, work and geekery.
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