Sometimes the little things make all the difference, especially when it comes to the maintenance of your photos. Having healthy photo habits is something we promote all the time on this blog, so we’re always interested in the photographer side of things. In this post, Photographer John Bennet of LensesPro shares his favorite 5 tips for staying organized. We hope you’ll find them useful and implement s.t.a.t. Enjoy!
5 Tips to Better Organize Your Digital Photos
Nowadays, everyone has thousands of old photos in their mobile devices, especially when social media sites such as Instagram have gained popularity. Having thousands of photos is excellent when you want to reminisce about your favorite moments from the past, but we all know that finding a specific picture can be exhausting without proper organization.
In this article, I’m going to give you 5 actionable tips for organizing your digital photos. The best part is that you can apply them immediately after you finish reading this article. Some of them take zero to little effort while some may require a couple of hours of your time. However, once you follow through, your photos will be much more organized and easier to navigate through. So without wasting any more time, let’s dive in straight to my personal five tips I use to keep my photos arranged and at my disposal for easier searching. Let’s go!
Tip #1 – Delete, Delete, Delete
Let’s admit it – We all have photos that we don’t need, but we don’t want to get rid of them because we feel like we are erasing moments from history. Nevertheless, this is the first tip on my list as it will help you in the long run. This might seem like the opposite of what you wanted to hear, but having pointless images on your phone will only make things harder for you in the future. Your first step should be to delete unnecessary photos on your mobile device.
You don’t have to delete pictures you care about, but there is no need to have ten different versions of the same image. Leave only photos you would be happy to show to your friends. Each photo should have a story behind it. After all, do you want to have ten same photos of one dinner you took two years ago at that expensive restaurant? I don’t think so.
Tip #2 – Create Sub-Folders
Another thing that is quite useful when it comes to organizing photos is creating folders and sub-folders (or if you prefer, albums and smart albums) regardless of what photo organizing software you’re using. This will allow you to find the images you are looking for, and it’ll also keep your entire collection better organized. But what’s the proper way to go about this?
There are two main ways:
The first way is to create one folder for each year and then one sub-folder for each month of that year. Then sort photos by specific dates, a.k.a. chronologically. This is pretty straightforward, but you obviously have to know when the photos were taken for this to work. With modern digital photos, this is usually not a problem, but if you are scanning photos, this can become more of a headache than its worth. Choose your strategy accordingly.
The second way is to create folders for different occasions, a.k.a. thematically. Having folders like “Food,” “Selfies,” and “Nature” will help you organize images by type. You can also include folders for trips and events, like “My Trip to Bali,” “My first job,” etc. This usually works great if you don’t need to know (or if you don’t know) all the dates your photos were taken.
Tip #3 – Back Up Your Photos
We’ve all been there. Technology always works until it doesn’t, and you don’t want to end up losing all those precious memories.
Luckily, there’s a simple thing you can do to avoid finding yourself in this kind of situation, and it’s called “backing up.” Just transfer your photos from a mobile phone to a safer place, like your computer, or even better, an external hard drive. Make sure that you use that drive only for storing photos, so you don’t accidentally reformat it. There is no need to go crazy and back up your photos every day, but make sure to transfer your photos regularly, for example once every month or every other month. Keep your drive in a safe place and label it so you know what is is!
Besides manual backups, it’s always great to have an automatic backup running. You can go with an online service like Backblaze that’s cloud-based, or you can set up a local version, like Time Machine, that backs up to another external drive. To backup your phone, use a service like iCloud, or Dropbox. Whichever way you do, it’ll take some of the pressure off you to remember to transfer files manually.
Tip #4 – Rename Your Photos
This part might take a bit more effort, but will make a huge difference when it comes to keeping your photos organized. The trick I often use is to thoroughly describe what the photo is about with one number that represents the day photo was taken.
Here is an example:
Let’s say that you traveled to Bali and took a photo of your friend Michael on 28th July 2016. When you’re organizing, name your photo something like “2016-07-28_Michael_Bali” so that you can remember what is is 5 years from now. There are many ways to do this, so just pick a system that works for you and then use it consistently. If you can also tag your photo with the same information, that makes searching a whole lot easier. It might seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it.
Tip #5 – Always Select Your Favorite Photos
My last tip is to always select your favorite images and actually tag them as favorites. Go through all of your old photos, pick the ones you are proud to show to your friends and tag them, or create a smart collection called “Favorites.” You can do this by year or by theme, whatever suits you the best. Most photo organizing programs will have some sort of favorites system that you can use, or at the very least a ratings system.
This is quite useful when you want so share photos with family and friends, or when it becomes time to create something with them. Scrolling through a cameral roll of thousands of photos while your friends are waiting is more than obnoxious. You’ll also probably not find the one you were looking for. By using a favorites system, you can select only one image per event and make things a lot more interesting for everyone involved.
Try to Be Consistent!
Those were my five favorite tips that will hopefully help you improve your organizing skills and reduce the time it takes for you to find a specific photo. Take away what you find most useful, implement, and try to stay consistent with it. It takes a bit of time up front, but it will be very beneficial in the long run.
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