I’m happy to have Tracy Lee sharing her tips on photo organising. Tracy is a brilliant photographer here in Canberra who loves to do wedding and family photography, and branding stories for companies. She has done the majority of the photography for my website and family over the last few years. She’s here to share her tips on organising your photos, and even recommends a few programs you could use too.
Can you remember a time that you sat down to find a particular photo on your computer? Did you spend ages scrolling through your files only to end up frustrated because you simply couldn’t find it? If you’re like me you said every swear word in your vocabulary before giving up. To stop this from happening again, I have a solution! Just like you put your car keys in the same place each day, you can do the same with your photos. Storing your most precious memories so they are never lost and can be easily accessed is easy peasy with a simple system.
Why Create a Process For Storing Your Precious Photos?
Firstly, why do you need a system for organising your photos?
- So you can find a particular photo quickly.
- You’re more likely to print your photos.
- You’re more likely to regularly BACKUP your precious memories. (Saving them from getting lost!)
- It creates less clutter on your hard-drive.
Make sure the system you use, WORKS FOR YOU!
It’s no use putting in a system that’s not intuitive for you and how you work. Do you like to work with dates? (I don’t! Looking at a screen of numbers just annoys me and hurts my brain). Maybe you like descriptive-type language. Are you a big picture person who likes to work with broad chunks of information or do you get a buzz from details?
When creating a process for photo storage, consider these points
What is my method of transferring from camera to computer?
Will you use the lead that came with your camera to connect it to the computer or a card reader? Will you email the photos to yourself, or just load them up to Facebook and copy them down again later?
What will I name my photo files?
This is a personal choice. Will you name according to date taken, event, subject or a mixture of both?
Where and how will my photos be stored on the computer?
What will your file or folder structure be to allow quick access to a particular photo? Will you use a particular software package or application to organise your photos or manage them manually yourself?
As an example, below are a few suggestions to help kick start a folder structure.
My Personal Process
To help you get started I have included a simple process of how I manage my new photos.
- I put the camera card into my card reader and download photos into a newly named folder. This folder I usually name “TO SORT”. But you can call this new upload folder whatever you want e.g. labelled by date, category and specific subject.
- I then go through and cull all the unwanted photos. Remember unwanted photos just take up space on your hard drive. I personally use specific software for this process, but a quick visual inspection is all that’s needed here.
- I rename the files so I can locate them quickly in the future. Once again this is a personal choice how you do this. But if you have dozens and dozens of photos then this ‘bulk’ process may help:
- PC – Select the files you wish to rename, then Single Right Click and select rename. Type in the new name then hit the Enter key.
- Mac – Batch rename files are not all that obvious. Luckily Mac OS X has a built-in tool called Automator that can automate hundreds of common tasks, including renaming files.
- Finally I then move these photos to a final folder for storage (especially if some or all of these photos belong with other photo sets). Later these folders will be backed up using my various backup processes.
Want to Try a Photo Organiser Program?
Listed below are a few applications that help you manage and access your photos, an essential part of organising your photos. Many of these allow you to store your photos online. They also allow access from any device. Some also have processes that will retrieve photos from your camera and sort them into specific folders.
They’re great for streamlining your method of downloading, sorting and backing up.
With Google Photos you can share photos and folders online. You do need a Google account to use it.
Flickr is free and an easy way to share your photos online. It is also easy to upgrade for more storage and access to simple editing tools that won’t break the bank.
Dropbox offers cloud-based storage that allows you to use your own self-managed file system. The free account has limited storage for large files but is reasonably priced to upgrade for more space.
Photos for MacOS
Photos is a photo organising program specifically for Mac operating systems and comes preloaded onto new Apple computers.
Adobe Photoshop Elements
Photoshop Elements by Adobe is an easy-to-use, scaled down version of Adobe Photoshop, great for editing and organising your photos.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Photoshop Lightroom, also by Adobe, is my personal favourite program for organising and editing photos. If you want a more hard-core program, go for this one!
Backup, backup, backup!
Lastly, something to ask yourself is, “How will I download and back up?” In other words, how often will you download your photos and where will you back them up? I have lots of clients who joke about never downloading their photos and just keeping them on the camera… That works great until their camera gets lost, or worst, stolen. Just sayin’!
If you don’t ever want to lose your photos then backing up is not negotiable!
Ok, go on, get started organising your photos!
About the Author
Tracy Lee is an accredited and award-winning Australian photographer, specialising in wedding, and family portraiture at Tracy Lee Photography.
She is described by her partner as a bit nutty, fun and caring. If her dog could speak, he’d say the same for sure! She loves her camera, her family and friends and creating awesome images that move people.
She’s a teacher, she adores her crazy dog and cat, will drive an extra mile for a good chai, is sweet on her partner Mikey, loves to dress up and dance, can play a whole four chords on her guitar, and has an obsession with the colour green.
She is drawn to people with interesting stories to tell and loves to photograph them.