Organize Your Digital Photos for $99 Per Year
Today, I’m going to go through some digital photo file organizing tips & tricks for all those massive amount of digital photos.
At last count, I have about 55,000+ photos.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Organize Your Digital Photos
Now, I realize that I’m a bit obsessed. I love photographs. I take my Nikon dSLR everywhere I go, and I organize “photo shoots” of my children on a regular basis. These photo shoots are complete with dressing up, driving to a scenic spot, and posing in one of the myriad of model poses that I’ve learned over the years. My kids are amateur models. If only they were taller.
I’ve also collected hundreds thousands of older photos from family members, back from the days where you had film. Pictures of me growing up. Pictures of my husband growing up. Pictures of my parents growing up. Pictures of his parents growing up. You get the picture.
And … as of today, the only physical pictures in the house are in picture frames, of which we only have 12 as a collection on one wall of our house.
How is that possible?
I digitized and organized all of our photos.
I used to be a scrapbooking and photo album junkie. I thought to myself, everyone loves to look at photographs. Everyone loves to flip through them. I left the newest ones on my coffee table. Then, one day during some spring cleaning, I didn’t know what to do with all my scrapbooks and photo albums, so I stuck them into a drawer. Fast forward five years later, when I found them. And I realized that no one, with the exception of some out-of-town guests who idly peruse your albums, actually ever looks at old photographs. These books’ only purpose was to take up my valuable space, and my valuable time when I shuffled them from one location to another.
(Far be it for me to tell anyone how to be creative. If that is what you love to do, and you love to go through them, I’m not knocking your scrapbooking.)
Now, this concept of digitizing is not new. In fact, lots of books and blogs recommend scanning and then throwing out old photographs. The problem is … what do you do with all those photographs once they are scanned? I know of people who have tons and tons of folders on their computers, all with different types of digital photographs, all named differently. The scanner adds some sort of label to the front of each photo it scans. Your cell phone names pictures differently, too. Same with your digital camera, and maybe another one for a dSLR if you have one of those. All thrown into one big messy digital pile.
And guess what? These digital files never got looked at either.
This is where Dropbox and your cell phone come in handy. I’m going to show you how I organize my photographs.
This method is not the only way to organize your digital photos. With any organizational method, whatever way you choose is the best way, as long as it is consistent (even if that method is that you don’t care two hoots about organizing your photographs).
We’re going to employ two rules of thumb to our digital photographs:
- Every photograph will have some sort of date at the beginning.
- After the arbitrary number that your camera assigns to the photo, we are going to label each photo with the people in the photo.
And an option #3: You can put the event name after the date.
Your photo will look something like this:
Why do we do this? The answer, is then we can easily search for all the digital photos with certain criteria, such as searching for “Stephanie” or even the event name. If you name events similarly, you can also do multi-year photograph searches on the same type of event, say, Christmas or School Portraits (one of my personal favs).
So how does Dropbox help? This is where we store all of our photos. How come we have to upgrade? I upgraded because I had so many photographs and videos, and I wanted to make sure that I would always have a copy of them in case anything happened to my computer.
First, I turn on the Camera Uploads feature that comes standard with most cell phones. If you have an iPhone, you might have to finaggle it to upload to Dropbox instead of iCloud, which I have found personally to be a real pain (but, to each her own).
Second, I moved all of my un-renamed files into Camera Uploads. This includes every photo from every source.
Third, I proceeded to batch rename each photograph using a free program called Advanced Renamer. I created Presets, which allow me to one-or-two-click and rename my photographs with ease.
Finally, I move my photographs into clearly labeled folders. These folders are usually just years (e.g. 2015, 2016, 2017).
I’m not going to lie. Reorganizing all of my photographs into digital format was a lot of work. However, I started from the most recent photographs and moved backwards. That way, I always felt as though I was making some progress. And when new photographs were added into Camera Uploads (either from my cell phone or from manually moving them from a digital camera or scanner), I keep on top of them, usually while I’m watching a movie.
We now have a drawer in my filing cabinet where all the hard-copy photographs go, awaiting to be scanned. These are pictures like school portraits (which also usually end up in the picture frame every year) or miscellaneous photographs that happen. I also collect digital clippings from the Snipping Tool if I see something relating to one of the children on a web site.