Clutter causes stress. Or, rather, it contributes to it. So reducing the amount of clutter in your life will help decrease the overall chaos of the daily grind – and an easy place to start this process is with something that makes you happy, such as photography. Here’s how you can clean up your photo management process and getting into a routine where you organize your photos in a more sensible manner.
1. Find a central storage point
The problem you’ve had up until now is that you’re not organizing photos per se; rather, you’re accumulating them. Stop letting photos pile up wherever there is room for them and create one big space for them where everything gets filed. This could be an internal drive on your computer, or an external drive. But any good photo management plan starts with a primary storage point.
2. Get rid of your outdated storage units
Still using Zip drives and floppy disks? Or more accurately, do you have photos languishing on these devices in the back of a drawer. Buy the necessary USB cables or devices to retrieve your images from these Paleolithic units and then toss them away forever!
3. Wipe your memory cards
How often do you download the images from your memory card after a shoot? Of course you don’t! No one does. Most people let their cards fill up, then once full, switch to another that’s lying around. Stop this immediately. Copy your photos from these cards into your central storage point (we’ll worry about organizing these photos later) and re-format your card.
4. Clean up any stray images
Like dust (or raisins, if you have kids), it’s amazing the places images turn up. Next we’re going to want to try and locate any stray images on your computer and move those into your primary folder.
For starters, perform a global search on your computer for files ending with .jpg, .tif, .png or any image file suffix you may use. If any turn up, move them into your central folder.
5. Don’t forget about email attachments
Did you know that the average person will have 43,000 images in their email account over the course of a lifetime?
OK, so that might not be true. Or maybe it could be, but the point is we accumulate a lot of images in emails over the years. Most of them aren’t worth saving, but the occasional family Christmas snap from your mother or pictures from your child’s pre-school you might want to hang on to. Filter your images by attachments, choose the ones you want to save and then download them into your central folder.
6. Put your photo management software to work
By now you’ll have a large pile of pictures in one folder and you can rest somewhat easier now knowing that half of the great battle of organizing your photos is done! Now it’s time to put your photo management software to work.
Whatever photo management software you’re using, most – if not all – will organize photos by date. This may not be how you ultimately choose to organize your photos, but it can serve as a nice starting point for making sense of your large pile of pictures.
More sophisticated photo management software can recognize faces and filter your pictures this way. But it’s up to you and what you shoot to decide how your photos should be organized.
If you shoot landscape photography, for instance, you may wish to organize images by location. But filtering them first by date will help you spread that pile out a bit and get a sense of what you have so you can make a more informed decision about photo management strategies.
7. Back it up. All of it
Perhaps the most important step here. Once you have your images stored all in one place, and you’ve organize them in a manner that makes more sense… back it all up so you don’t have to do it again!
We’re far enough into the digital age that we don’t need to explain why you need to back up your files. Just make sure you do it. Regularly. Consider cloud storage if you want to be able to access your back-ups anywhere.
8. Make a photo management strategy… and stick to it
Now that you’ve cleaned up some of your past laziness, work out a photo management strategy organizing photos you take from this point on. There’s no sense in doing everything we’ve listed here if you’re just going to fall back into old routines.
Get in the habit of downloading your images to your central folder straightaway. Perhaps even consider getting one of the wireless SD cards that lets you transfer photos to your computer over Wi-Fi. Whatever it takes to keep those cards clean!
Next, get in the habit of tagging photos in a way that makes sense with your folder structure and how you’ve chosen to organize your photos. Maybe your landscapes are tagged by continent or country, for instance. Some photo management software will even let you pin locations on a map.
You can also start using your software to star-rate your images to help filter out the hits from the misses.
We mentioned facial recognition earlier. If your photo management software does this, set this up! It will save you so much time… and isn’t that what this whole process has been about?
So, there you go – 8 ways in which organizing your photo collection just makes life… easier. Share your tips for staying on top of your pictures with our Facebook community.