How to organise your digital photos

April 22, 2015

how to organise your digital photos

It’s Wednesday and that means the next dose of my photo series.  We live in a time where taking photos could not be easier.  We click away several times a day creating thousands of memories on our phones, cameras and other devices.  On the one hand it’s quite amazing that we can photograph anything, anytime, all the time but on the other, what do you do with all those photo’s?  Do you have thousands of memories sitting in one big horrible mess on your phone, on your laptop or even on your facebook?  Do you spend hours trying to find photos?  Do you wonder what to do with all those thousands of photo’s you’ve taken?  If your answer is yes, then todays photography article on how to organise your digital photos will help you get on top of this mess.  These tips are easy to follow and with a little effort you will have a very organised photo library.  I’ve put these tips together based on what I do (when I’m organised!):

1. Download those photos
This is the easy bit because if you’re anything like me, I can’t wait to see the photo’s I’ve taken after an event or holiday.  So whenever I take photos I always download them usually on the same day or within a day or two.  Never leave photo’s on your memory card as your card will eventually get full and you may not have room the next time you need to take photo’s.  This could leave you furiously trying to scroll through your camera and deleting photo’s in a hurry to free up some space.  And besides it’s also possible to accidently delete your entire memory card.

2.  Delete, delete, delete!
As soon as you download your photos, start deleting.  And be ruthless.  Blurry shots, duplicate shots, random photos – you know the ones I mean.  And then delete some more.  Only keep the shots you really love and often you’ll find that more than half can be deleted.  This also helps keep more storage space free.  My best advice (which I try to follow) is to delete photo’s as soon as you download them.  This will make putting them in to folders a much easier job.

3.  Create folders
That brings me on to the next point – creating folders.  It doesn’t matter what software you use or even if the photos are stored directly on your PC but creating a folder system is essential to getting your photos organised.  The simplest way to do this is chronologically –  by year, then month, then by the subject or occasion.  The best way to stay on top of your system is to place photo’s in to folders as you download and after a while this will become a habit.   But if this isn’t possible you can also set aside a little time the end of each month and spend an an hour or two dividing the photos for that month in to folders.  If you do this regularly, imagine how organised your photos will be and how easy they will be to find!

None of us have photo’s just on our camera’s anymore.  In fact many of us have more photo’s on our phones than anywhere else.  We definitely don’t want to forget these so do the same with these – download to your computer (or wherever you store your photos) monthly or weekly (depending on how many you take), delete unwanted ones and put in to folders with the rest of that months photo’s.

4.  Mark your favourites
I’ve recently started flagging my favourite photos in each set of photos that I download.  This is easily doable in many photo management tools like apple iphoto or windows live photo gallery.  This has helped me so much especially when I take photo’s for my blog.  Before I’d trawl through 100 or more photo’s to choose the best two or three and then forget which ones I liked so I’d keep going back and forth and wasting far too much time.  Now when I download them, I immediately delete the hopeless ones and flag the best.  This will also help a lot if later you decide you want to print some or make a photobook – no more spending hours choosing.

5.  Storage
If you take a lot of photo’s then keeping these on your laptop can start eating away at your computers storage.  So instead you could use an external photo storage site like flickr.  There are many such sites that are free to use so it’s just a question of finding the right one for you – here’s a list that will help.

6. Print them!
Seriously, how often do you print your photo’s?  I am really bad at this but since starting this photography series I’ve realised that there is no point learning to take fab photos only to have them sitting on a hard drive somewhere.  It’s so much nicer to hold a book or album and flick through the pages than it is to stare at a screen.  With all the easy printing options available, there really is no excuse not to print photos.  And once you’ve spent a bit of time organising your digital photos, choosing ones to print should be easy.

Some ideas on printing – You could print a yearly photobook.  I did this when Anya turned one showing the first year of her life and it is such a wonderful memory.  I did it again when she turned two but since have given up but plan to re-start.  Another idea is to make mini little photobooks of instagram photos or phone photo’s that can literally be done in minutes.  Yet another idea is to make real prints and create a gallery wall in your home.  You could refresh these every couple of years and older ones can go in to an album.  There are so many easy and quick ways to get real copies of your photo’s and once you start, you’ll love the physical memories you are creating and memories that can be handed down for generations to come.

7. Don’t feel overwhelmed
If you have done nothing to organise your photo’s over the years and have thousands upon thousands stored on your laptop and phone, don’t panic!  It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and not know where to start.  You can either start with your latest photos and work backwards or the other way around but most importantly, start with bite sized chunks.  So consider tackling a months worth of photo’s each week and slowly you will start to see your digital photo library looking very organised.

8. Back it up
You knew this was coming, you know you should do it but are you doing it?  Even if you end up doing nothing else to organise your digital photos, at the very least you need to back them up.  I use an external hard drive that I plug in to my laptop around once a month and job done!  But there are so many ways to create back-ups, the important thing is to do it – not say you will do it, not plan to do it but do it today! Here is a simple article that lists some photo back-up options.

So that’s how I like to keep my photo’s organised.  It’s a shame to have so many gorgeous memories lying in a huge mess somewhere.  With my tips on how to organise your digital photos and a little consistent effort, you will have the most organised photo library ever.  And once you get in the habit of doing this, you will save so much time because you won’t ever have to look through thousands of pics to find the one you want.  And don’t forget to print and back-up those amazing memories.

There are lots more handy tips and ideas on photography in my previous articles which you’ll find here:
How to grow your instagram following
How to photograph moving kids
The best photo filter apps
How to photograph kids using an iphone only
A mini photobook

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  • Babes about Town

    Fab advice! I really need to create some kind of system as I’m a mess of photos piling up and problem is I started using cloud storage e.g. Google and Windows drives, and my Amazon Cloud as well as some Dropbox and now I just have photos everywhere that need sorting!

    Good tip to flag the favourites, and actually to take some proper time sorting through, labelling and filing away (and deleting) the photos. Will schedule this in for a weekend when I’m not so busy, as it’s always such a treat rediscovering old pix too. Thanks for the post x

    • ebabee likes

      Thank you lovely – glad you found it useful. I try and follow these steps but don’t always succeed. But yes, keeping your photos in one place even if not organised is much better. Hope you get them organised. x

  • Báró Júlia

    Great tips.

  • Steph @MisplacedBrit

    Delete, delete, delete… I definitely need to start there! 😉

    I think I need to move away from having a ‘series’ of photo’s for EVERY photo shoot! …Every now and then, maybe 5 photo’s is enough! 😉

    • ebabee likes

      Ha, ha – we all do. I am really disciplined sometimes but terrible at other times! And I agree – I take way too many photos for a blog shoot. Would make life a lot easier if I just took say even 20!

  • Penny

    Yeah, as I said when I retweeted yesterday – I really need to have a clean out.

    I have no idea why it’s so hard to do but I have lots of bad shots and I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

    It’s on the agenda if I get a moment to do it over the Bank Holiday though – Mission Impossible: Delete!

    • ebabee likes

      Hi – I know what you mean but once you get started it becomes much easier, promise! And once you delete a whole load you feel so much better. It’s like having a clear out or decluttering.

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