I am excited to continue our 2 part series on Photo Organizing.
My challenge was with organizing print photos (which we addressed last week)
Rhonda’s challenge is with digital photos (which we are talking about this week)
For both posts, we welcome our friend, colleague and guest blogger Daina Makinson to share her expertise in the area of photo organizing.
A little about Rhonda’s photo challenges and then Daina’s expertise below!
When people find out I am a professional organizer, they always say, “I bet your house is perfect!” I am here to tell you that I am professional, not perfect. My desk would not win the “Tidiest Desk” award and the fact is, that paper can pile up in the home of a professional organizer too. The perception that we always have it together, is a myth! The perception that a professional organizer NEVER feels overwhelmed is also a falsehood. Ask my husband – he will tell you that there are times when he needs to calm me down and help me figure out the source of my stress. The one area in which I feel perpetually overwhelmed is with my photos.
Can anyone out there identify with that? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with organizing your photos? Have you ever talked yourself out of taking a picture because you don’t want to be even more behind in your scrapbooking?
Since I am confessing, I may as well let you know that I am REALLY uptight about having my photos in chronological order. When I scrapbook, I don’t even like to move photos around for aesthetic reasons in a layout because I don’t want to mess up the order. So now you can see why I am overwhelmed with my pictures? How do I converge ALL my photos from my phone and the several cameras I have had over the years, and keep them in chronological order?
The Region of Waterloo library put on a workshop on organizing your photos about a year ago and I was excited to attend. I was seeking help and I decided that I needed to take baby steps toward my goal of organizing my photos. They introduced me to the world of Google Photos. It was one platform in which I can compile ALL the photos that I have ever taken. It is perfect for several reasons. This serves as a back up to my personal and business photos (which it is recommended by professionals to have at least 3 forms of photo back up). Having a “cloud” copy of my pictures is secure even if my computer crashes. Another reason I love this new discovery is it automatically put my photos in chronological order. The photo source is insignificant and it collates my photos into one program. The only downfall is my free storage filled up pretty quickly so I have to pay for extra storage for a couple of dollars a month. I decided that this minimal fee is worth my sanity in dealing with the thorn in my side. Now I have the setting on my phone that every picture I take is automatically uploaded into google photos. I can find any of my photos in this program and every single picture is in the right order. Isn’t that what we are all seeking . . . . Order? As I am riding on the bliss of finally having all my photos in order . . . I think about the huge job of editing and printing and feel overwhelmed again . . . . time to sit down and have another meeting with my husband . . . . until next time. Rhonda
How to Organize And Get Control Of Your Digital Photos
Are you drowning in your digital photos? I get asked by overwhelmed people all the time where do they start to get control of their digital mess? As we continue to snap photos at an alarming rate (1.7 trillion photos will be taken in 2017) and don’t do anything about the photo clutter, we are in danger of losing the stories of our lives. How do you take all the devices with photos and turn them into a family album that everyone can cherish? Or create a private family website where all can safely and securely share and enjoy? It all starts with the first step.
Six Steps to Organize Your Digital Photos
The first thing you want to do is COPY (not move) your photos in one folder. Yes, I know this sounds like a staggering job! But if you make a list of all your devices, make a date with each one of them and just deal with one device at a time you can do this. Rome wasn’t built in a day and this photo project won’t be either. Just think of it as a very long mathematics problem. You can’t look at the whole thing all at once and solve it. You have to break it down in parts and tackle it one step at a time.
- Gather all your devices and copy the photos into one single folder in your core file folder structure
- Devices will include smartphones, cameras, flash drives, memory cards, CDs and DVDs, external hard drives and cloud storage sites if the original photos are no longer on the devices
- Back up this original “photo mess” folder in two other locations – things happen and you want to be able to go back to ground zero if necessary
Now that you have one big folder full of all your photos the next item to deal with is all those duplicates. Now I’m not talking about the fifteen photos you took of the sunset in Jamaica. You will handle those in Step 5. This is the part where you search for and remove all the ABSOLUTE DUPLICATES. The photos you copied again and again into folders because you couldn’t remember if you had done that already. You will need a software program to do this, unless you only have a small amount of photos to organize and can do it visually, but that is still hard to do and I don’t recommend it.
- Remove all the duplicates
- Download a duplicate removing software app. You may choose to opt for a free program or use a paid one. I recommend Duplicate Cleaner Pro by Digital Volcano
- Remove all duplicates to a separate folder titled DUPLICATES
The next step is to sort your photo life into chronological order. Your life is like a book – it has a beginning, a middle and an end. The end being as we speak, not THE END. As should the photos of your life be organized. So now you ask “How will I find my photos if they are sorted chronologically and I can’t remember when I took any specific photo?” That’s called tagging and is the last step of this process. At this point you are simply, yes it’s simple, moving the photos from the mess to their rightful home by year and month.
- Sort chronologically
- Create folders by year and subfolders by year-month
- Move all photos to the corresponding dated folders
Rename your photos because DSC_3241 means nothing to you. Our lives are a story and the story is broken up into chapters; the people, places and events of our lives, so now is the time to tell it that way. I’m not suggesting you rename every single photo a unique name, but rather in groups chronologically. For example, in a month you may have a family dinner, a graduation and a vacation. These would represent three different groups that can be renamed by the who-what-where of the photos that will then be sorted into their own folders titled accordingly.
- Rename all photos
- Be sure the photos in each folder are sorted chronologically in ascending order
- Rename groups of photos by the who-what-where of the story starting with the numerical year-date in the name i.e. 2017-10 Makinson Family Thanksgiving Dinner Toronto
- Create subfolders for each month by the unique groupings titling the folder the same as the photos, then move photos to appropriate folders
- *Note – if you want to defer all the who-what-where in the renaming then simply rename every photo chronologically by year-month-file number. You can use the tag function in Step 6 to identify and search for photos
Now edit out all the photos you don’t need or want. An unedited photo collection creates a lot of clutter and chaos. You only need the best shot from a series of photos you took by clicking ten times to be sure everyone was looking at the camera and their eyes were open. Or that sunset that was more beautiful every single second as it sunk into the horizon. Pick the best shot. Move the edits to another folder and be done with it. If you can’t bear to delete your photos keep this folder separately and go back to it if necessary. You can always return any photo back to its rightful folder. Why is that? Because they have all been renamed with the year-month-who-what-where.
- Edit series photographs
- Using the duplicate remover program, view groups of photos that are multiple images of the same subject – i.e. those five pictures you took all at once to make sure everyone’s eyes were open and looking at the camera!
- Select best photos to keep and move all unwanted photos to a separate folder titled EDITS
Tag your photos with the words you will use to search your photo collection. If you want to skip the who-what-where in the renaming step, you can use that criteria here to tag your photos so they are searchable by the keywords that you use. Once you have finished tagging you are done!
- Tag photos for easy search-ability
- Using the tag function of your operating system tag all photos with pertinent names of family and friends, locations and events
When the entire collection is complete back it up in two locations i.e. external hard drive and a cloud service. Once your photos are safely backed up and secure you can then delete the duplicates and edit folders if you wish.
When these six steps are complete you will have a beautifully curated collection in a photo ecosystem that you can easily manage and maintain. Then the magic begins and your photos and stories can come back into your life to share and enjoy, like a family photo yearbook!
Want to learn more about how to do-it-yourself? Register for my 2 hour course Digital Photo Organizing at Upper Grand District School Board Continuing Education in Guelph, Ontario.
Founder of Snap Shot Solutions, Daina Makinson is a Professional Photo Organizer, specializing in digital and print organizing. For the past six years, she’s helped clients organize, preserve and protect their most precious memories with their photograph collection. Daina works one on one with clients to help them with the overwhelming task of bringing all their photos together, organizing them by the people, places and events of their lives.
Daina is a certified member of APPO, the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and has appeared on CHCH and Global Televisions morning shows, CBC’s prime time show Doc Zone, as well as the Guelph Mercury and Globe and Mail.