10 simple tips to get your digital photos organised

10 simple tips to get your digital photos organised

The sun is out, term 3 school holidays have been and gone and the silly season is just around the corner.  You are marvelling at how the year is flying and how cute (and big) the kids look in swimming gear and summer clothes.   I know that I am soon to be marvelling at my Miss 4 off to Big School Orientation!

Of course this highly likely means that you, like me, have been becoming increasingly snap happy taking photos on various devices.

Today we wanted to give you 10 tips to help avoid those photos stacking up as the year sprints to an end.

  1. Ignore the historical heap (for now): Most of you will have a backlog of oodles of unorganised photos going back, usually to your wedding or first child’s birth (depending on your age). While organised systems are relatively easy to implement, it will be extremely intimidating to attempt to go back and organise 10+ years of photos in one sitting. Draw a line in the sand and start from this month onwards, you will develop some good new habits and get skilled up in best practises.
  2. Check the date: If you are still using an actual camera, check the date is set correctly, it will save you a ton of heart ache and memory brain cells in the future. Lucky for most of us taking mostly smart phone photos the date will be correct.
  3. Ditch as you go: Digital photography allows us to take plenty of photos (usually too many) but it also gives you the flexibility to delete as you go. Consider if you really need 10 photos of one sunset? Yes, that seafood platter was amazing but will you need to see that photo in a year or even a month? (Especially if there were no people in the photo). I check my recent photos periodically every few days over a morning coffee and ditch the ones I don’t need to keep.
  4. Create a hub: With numerous places available to store photos we find that the simplest and easiest place is the hard drive on your computer. Simply create a master folder and give it a meaningful name e.g. “Our Photo Collection” I like to add the word ‘collection’ to give it a point of difference to any other pre-existing folders built-in to your computer.  Move all your photos to one location and create a back up before you start moving anything.
  5. Use sub-folders: We like chronological folders. If you are drawing your line in the sand and starting this project today you would begin by creating a year folder for “2015”. Within that year folder, create a sub folder for each month adding in a number prefix e.g 2015 10 October. This way, you keep your photos in chronological, rather than alphabetical, order. Also should a subfolder ever get separated from its higher levelled folders you will know where it really belongs. Put all of your photos from the given month in the correct folder.
  6. Include event folders: Unique events can be separated further into sub-folders within the appropriate month with a name describing the event such as “2015 10 08 Sally’s 40th” or “2015 06 Snow Trip.”  Your special event and occasion photos will then be easy to find with simple key word searches.
  7. Be diligent with maintenance: We recommend you diarise to spend some time managing your photo collection at least once a month. It’s not always practical to save photos to your computer the day you take them. However, we encourage everyone to import their photos as soon as you can to avoid accidental loss.
  8. Use consistent names: When I save my photos I use descriptive names using a WHEN>WHERE>WHO>WHAT sequence to make them easy to search for later. For example, if I take a photo of my daughter Gabi on September 25, 2015 at Bondi Beach I would name my photo “20150925 Bondi Beach Gabi sandcastle” then place it in the 2015 09 September folder within my 2015 folder. This allows me to search for only photos of Gabi or only photos taken at beaches later on. I use the same key words as often as possible for consistency. Remember to use proper names e.g. not mum or nan – as over time it will be an issue as to whose mum or nan you are referring to. Or you can use a combination e.g. Nanna June
  9. Back-up: Remembering our ‘back up or die’ post, you must accept that it’s highly probable that you will experience data loss of some kind and some stage, we can’t stress how important back up is! We recommend doing a backup at least monthly. There is a great variety of back-up systems available and there is no one size fits all. I personally use an external hard drive and a cloud provider. My business partner Jo uses two external hard drives that she keeps in different locations. Don’t forget printing is a great way to back up!
  10. Revisit the backlog: It IS possible to conquer the historical heap! If you are dedicated and methodical you can organise your entire backlog of old photos bit by bit. Set some goals. Consider tackling a year’s worth of photos over two or three months. Remember as you are going through your old photos to delete as you go. When it comes to dating your photos; if you are unsure or confused we encourage you to keep filing the photos by year remembering to create sub folders for special events. You can also give us a call and to book a Digital Photo Organising Discovery Session to kick start your project OR we can even do the whole historical mess for you!
  • Marilyn
    Posted at 10:10h, 12 October

    Thanks for this great advice.

  • lizprice4@gmail.com
    Posted at 20:48h, 15 October

    Hi Mara,

    I really enjoyed reading these tips.

    I was so overwhelmed with the amount of old photos I need to organise that I kept putting off organizing them.

    I will start with the new photos and work my way back. Such great information.

    I’m not sure about the hub and sub folders though, I’ll try and work it out.

    Thank you Cheers Liz


    • thefilingfairies
      Posted at 10:23h, 16 October

      Thanks Liz. The hub and sub folders are mainly PC centric but can also be applied to MAC if you know what you are doing. Look forward to meeting with you in the new year. Mara

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