Welcome Guest Blogger, Kelly Tuohey.
My serious love of picture taking started when my first son was born. He’s almost six now and I have tens of thousands of images, (not just of him and his siblings), on my computer and various back up devices. Of course, when I started I didn’t have a good idea of what I was doing or how to best organize and I definitely felt the frustration of poor photo organization before he was even 12 months old.
Your photo count is only going to grow over time, so it’s best to start out organized, rather than sift through the mess later.
Photo Organization 101: How to Organize the Photos You Take, Find the Photos You Keep and Print the Photos You Love!
Organize to Optimize!
These days I use Adobe Lightroom to help me organize and find my images. However, any basic photo program (even the one that comes default installed on your computer!) will work just fine. I started out with Windows Media Player.
Use a specific photo management/photo upload program.
Don’t just transfer the images from your camera/card to your computer using Windows Explorer/Finder. This way the import program will do most of the hard work for you.
Keep everything organized by date, no matter how inconvenient you think it is right now.
In five years, you’ll thank me. No matter what program you’re using right now, you still need to be able to find them on your computer.
In terms of search-ability:
Upload your photos after every major event, even if your camera card isn’t full.
Create a separate folder for every upload. (yes, every one!) Label the folder starting with the date specifically with the year first.
Because all folder programs organize alphabetically, you’ll want to use the format YYYY-MM-DD-description-of-photo-upload.
I group these photo folders by year, so all my 2013 photo upload folders are inside a folder called “2013.” I don’t additionally group by month because my 2013 folder is still manageable. (I’ve tried this and nothing is more irritating than not being able to remember the date of a specific event and having to click into each month’s folder to see if the photos are there or not.)
Make your “description of photo upload” exhaustingly, yet concisely, descriptive. For example, use Wesley 5th Birthday Bowling, not just “birthday pics.”
When your photo import program asks if you want to rename your photos, say YES! Change your photo name to whatever you’ve called the folder that those same photos will be going inside of. This means that inside my 2014-01-04-New Year’s Eve Party my photos are named “2014-01-04-New Year’s Eve Party-001.jpg.”
And this next tip is my secret weapon (that is such an easy concept, yet so hard to actually do!): Keyword everything.
Even the most basic photo management programs have keyword (or image tagging) capabilities. Typically you can “bulk” keyword when you’re importing, so all your uploaded photos have the same keyword applied.
But the most important step is to sort through your images after they’ve uploaded and specifically keyword each one.
What do you keyword? I keyword locations, events, people, objects, feelings…anything that will help me find that image later.
This image is tagged with “Zoe,” “ironman,” “toys,” “front yard,” “favourite,” “sunset,” just to name a few.
Lastly, back everything up. Twice.
I back everything up online, both to Dropbox and to Google + (it’s free so far) plus I make duplicates of all my photos on my external server. Ideally, I would also periodically fill mini external drives and put them in my safety deposit box at my bank. (But I don’t, because I’m lazy.)
One of my goals for 2014 is also to get all of my photos printed and into books. That includes all my Instagram Photos, my Facebook Photos, and my “good camera” photos too, from the last six years. It’s going to be time consuming and expensive, but to me, totally worth both the effort and the expense.
Which brings me to my next topic: how to print the photos you love.
I started by printing absolutely every photo I took of my son. It was ridiculous. Who really wants to sort through 500 images of a one month old? (Yes, I did that!) They are still sitting in their little photo envelopes, in a box somewhere.
After he was about 6 months old, I stopped printing the photos (oddly the same time I finally figured out Facebook – hey, it wasn’t that old back then!). Instead I started making photo books. Almost any consumer print lab, like Walmart and Costco, has book options now, and they make creating a photo book ridiculously easy. However, I’m more a fan of specific Photo Book Companies like Blurb, Artifact Uprising, or Picaboo. They do a better job, in all honesty.
If you want to print mobile phone photos, I recommend using a specific “mobile printing” company to do it. Although you can link your Facebook account directly to the Walmart Photo Centre, I prefer sites like Prinstagr.am, PostalPix, or Printic. I find the quality better, even if it sometimes costs a little more.
But in terms of your regular (non-mobile) photos, how do you choose? It starts again with organization when you upload.
Once you’ve uploaded and keyworded your images your next step is to sort through and determine your favourites, as well as the throwaways.
Be ruthless with your delete key. Delete everything that is blurry, horrible, eyes-half-open, etc. If you’re like me, you also have 37 images that look almost identical. Pare it down to 3 or 4 and move on. (For real.)
Mark your favourites. Although I’m sure you love all your photos, there are always one or two that take your breath away. The ones you linger over, not really wanting to move on…those are the ones to mark!
I do this in two ways. I use the keyword “favourite” to set them apart. And I also store them in a separate “set,” like a virtual collection of all my favourite images. You could actually make copies of your favourite images and store them in a separate folder called “Favourites.” I also use the keyword “to print.”
Then I simply have to search for those keywords to see my favourite images, and the ones I’m thinking of printing.
The walls in my house are not covered in random artwork. They are covered in photo canvases of my kids, my life and my favourite places. I print my photos big!
This one is a 30×40 canvas and hangs in my dining room. As I print more recent images, the older images are moved downstairs to the playroom, to guest bedrooms or given to other family members. I even print my iPhone photos this way and I have a 10×30 of a panoramic image hanging in my entryway. (I get mine printed at Artsy Couture, CG Pro Prints, and locally).
You need to decide what works best for you – not everyone loves great big canvases. I also have many framed 8×10’s hanging in my hallways and 5×7’s plastered (underneath all the children’s artwork) over my fridge.
There’s something special about a printed image. My kids love seeing themselves in books and on the walls, in a way that’s different from when they see themselves on Facebook. I get to stare at my 30×40 canvas every day as I make dinner. It brings me joy. It’s my absolute favourite image.
At any rate, don’t let photo overwhelm stop you from printing anything. Just choose one to start and see if you like it. Try a canvas, try a metal print or fine art paper. Play around. And get those images up on your walls!