How To Organize Digital Photos

Raise your hand if you're like me and your downloaded photo files are a huge, unorganized, hot mess. Yeah, I thought so. Although the digital age has made it so convenient to capture all the moments in life that you want to remember, this also means that there are way more photos to organize and keep track of. So let's band together and start cleaning up the mess with these photo filing tips...

I would start with getting in the habit of downloading your images from your camera or phone on a regular basis. Depending on how many images you take, set up a schedule for once a week or once a month and then set an alarm to remind you. When the time comes, set up a file system to keep them tidy and organized once they are downloaded.

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Image Archive Organization: you can try something like this...

  • Start with a folder for the year.
  • Then a folder for each month — you can even take out the current month and put it on your desktop to make it easier to download to, and then put it back in the year when the month is over.
  • Make a few subject folders in the month that you already know you will have, like holidays, celebrations, vacations, etc.
  • You can make subfolders if you need to.
  • Then, as you download your files, create new subject folders in that month according to your images. At this point it would be good to delete any images you don't want to keep.

Photo Management Software:

  • Managing your image library using software allows you to tag and search images with ease. Just tag your images in the program when you import them and never lose an image again. For instance, you can use tags like birthday and Matt, and find every birthday image of Matt that you have ever taken. Or get very specific and search Matt, birthday, 2013, 40th, party hat and get every image you took at Matt's 40th birthday when he was wearing his party hat.
  • Some of the top retail management softwares that include import, review, and professional editing capabilites are Lightroom and Aperture.
  • Some of the top free or cheap store and display applications are iPhoto, Picasa, Flickr, Shutterfly, Smug Mug, and Photobucket.

Secure Storage:

Ok, so you have all of your images organized and easy to find. Now let's talk about how to make sure they don't just disappear in some crazy computer meltdown. Yes, that means we are gonna talk about the dreaded subject of backing up. Losing precious images is one of my biggest fears. There are a few ways to go about it:

  • You can get an external hard drive for a second secure copy. Also, leaving all of your images on your computer's hard drive will eat up a lot of space quickly.
  • You can then make DVD's of important images as a secondary backup in case your hard drive crashes.
  • OR you can put them in a cloud system online to make sure they are always available in case other systems fail. Here is a review of the best image cloud systems out there.
  • And of course, you can always print out important images or create photo books of the year's best.

(Image credits: Shutterstock/Shutterstock; Alysha Findley)

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