How many digital photos do you have?
1,000? 5,000? 10,000? 25,000? 50,000? No idea?
You're not alone. Believe me. Over 1.2 trillion digital pictures were taken in 2017 and there are currently over 4.7 trillion photos tucked away on hard drives. So, now that I've thrown a couple overwhelming numbers at you, what should you do with all these photos?
Three Steps to Gaining Control Over Your Digital Photos: Organize, Protect, & Share
Organizing Digital Photos
Organizing your digital photos is going to take time, but it can be split into manageable chunks, and it's worth it. When your cherished photos are scattered across folders and devises, named in multiple ways, unidentified, and unlabeled, they can't be fully enjoyed or shared.
Prepping for this post, I thought it appropriate to organize my own photos, so I feel your pain. There are thousands of photos that I never see because I have no idea what I have or where to find them! What's BH28723487.jpg? Mom or a cat or vacation or?
Choose a System - Program or DIY
Don't rush this step. Take time and be honest with yourself about your true desire to organize on a micro level, the actual time you'll have to spend on this project, and the likelihood you'll have the time and motivation to maintain it. If you choose a do-it-yourself approach but have several other responsibilities that take up all your time, this is going to be a very frustrating and possibly unsuccessful undertaking. This is not a fault. This is a reality.
In part two, I'll recommend two of the best programs for photo organization and give you some pros and cons for each. I had to fight against my natural frugality on this one. Pay for something I could do myself!?!?! Never!!!. How many of you are with me? Show of hands? The fact is: there simply isn't enough time, and it's perfectly ok to choose to spend your time in ways that you enjoy. Let the programs do the bulk of the work for you. I did, and I love it!
If you choose to do it yourself, you'll be manually gathering, reviewing, sorting, and labeling each and every photo in your collection. Somehow I managed to accumulate 15,000 photos. Let's say it takes me 60 seconds to locate, review, sort, and rename each photo. That over 250 hours of work! I don't have 250 hours of extra time. Do you?
Do-It-Yourself Photo Organization
Maybe you don't have 15,000+ photos, or you do have the extra time to spend on this project, or you simply have the overwhelming desire to do this project yourself. No problem. Start with making a list of all the places where your photos are stored: laptops, tablets, phones, external hard drives, cloud services, Facebook, thumb drives, memory cards, etc. What about physical photos? Do you want to convert them to digital? If so, have them scanned (or scan them yourself) and include that on the list.
Now, gather all you photos in ONE place and decide on your folder structure. Make sure the device you choose to initially store and sort your photos has enough storage space. An external hard drive might be a good choice. (My laptop is sufficient for this step.) Taking the time to create a simple, clear folder structure is important. It's easy to over organize this step. Best option: Create a folder for each year. In that folder, further divide by either month or season. I chose the month option (programs can do this for you!). So, in my Pictures folder, you'll see a folder for each year, and in each of those folders are folders for each month. Adding the 2-digit month number will keep everything in order. (e.g. 01-January, 02-February, etc.).
Decide on your naming structure. This will help you search for photos of certain events or photos containing certain people without opening each individual photo. Name the photos using this format: YYYY-MM-DD-location-event-who-sequence#. So, say I had a picture of an Aunt from her birthday earlier this year that was celebrated in NYC where she lives.. The picture would be labeled: 2018-01-13-nyc-birthday-auntbetty-01.jpg. It makes for a long file name, but then they're searchable! You can easily find all the pictures of your Aunt Betty or of an event or from a certain date. However, I'm sure you can also see how this exercise will take time.
So, set up your file structure for this year, and start using this for all photos going forward. Then once a week, commit to going through some of your back log - either a month's worth or photos from an event or whatever else works with the time you have.
Tools for working through your backlog:
This is Part 1 of a short series on digital photo organization (Click here for Part 2). Keep your eye out for future installments. I'll give you pros and cons of the top two photo organizing software programs, information on cloud storage, advice on decluttering your photos (digital clutter is still clutter!), and more!
Would you like to live a more organized life? Contact us today to get started!
I'm Jen, a professional organizer ready to help you take charge of your space, free up your time, and lead a more organized life! (Read more about me here)