One of my loyal blog readers, Colleen, recently left a comment on my posting about digital photo albums. She was looking for tips about how to manage the numerous digital photos that have accumulated on her hard drive and that she has done nothing with.
Wow! What a great question. The major magazines are always publishing articles about how to manage the clutter that takes over our homes and offices. But given this digital age we live in, the conveniences and speed that technology provides is countered by the exponentially higher levels of stress we take on given the multitude of emails, documents, digital photos, and other "stuff" we collect on our computers. Among the more annoying culprits are the digital photos. They tend to be big files, take up a lot of space, and hang out in a folder called something generic like "My Pictures."
Unfortunately I don't have a simple solution to this dilemma. I, too, battle the beast. However, I have pulled together a random list of tips I've figured out that may help. Good luck!
- Develop small, repeatable steps that become habits. Organizing digital photos can't be done in a day, weekend, or month. It's about creating a process that works for you.
- Start with the downloading process. When you transfer photos from your camera to the computer, name the folder. Specify subject, month, and year. For example, Fred's Birthday Feb 2009. What's important is to get a chronology into your folder system and create easily identifiable tags.
- Follow same steps for non-event subjects. If you can't resist taking 30 shots of a tree with ice on it (see earlier blog posts!) download them but name the folder Winter Trees Jan 2009. I put all my close-up shots that can be used for publicity, websites, etc. in a folder titled, "Anne's Professional Shots."
- Delete bad photos immediately. Once you download, go through your pics and immediately delete the ones that are blurry, the subject has their eyes closed, etc. You'll never use them - why keep them? And to save space, empty your recycle folder regularly.
- Create subfolders. Do you take pics at Fred's birthday every year? Have a folder called "Fred's Birthdays" and put the annual folders inside. Are birthdays in general a popular photo op? Then create a "Birthday" folder and move subfolders inside that. The key is getting down a theme or topic that you can easily "search" when you're looking for a specific photo.
- Watch for duplicates. I find I have this habit of renaming photos and saving copies to my desktop so they are easier for me to find and download. Try to rename photos once and put in a subfolder called "Keepers." Put all others in a folder called "Extras."
- Invest in an external drive. They're not expensive, and you can back up your photos and free up space on your computer. I find I still keep photos on my hard drive, but tend to put the "Extras" offline as a "safety net."
- Take advantage of a personal productivity lull to "clean house." We all have those days when we just aren't feeling productive and are looking for some brainless activity. Take advantage and go into that photo folder. Just organizing the "loose pictures" into a folder can be a huge help and make you feel more organized!