Photographs give you a chance to capture precious moments for all eternity. The hardest part isn’t actually taking the photos, though, it’s managing the ever-increasing collection of digital photos, growing like weeds or bamboo running wild. I tame the photo chaos using this method.
Download the photos. This is the first and most important step. Like the dishes or laundry, if you don’t regularly copy or move your photos to your computer, they pile up and you’ll never organize them. Routinely download photos when you come home from a trip or any other event, moving the photos onto your computer the first free minute you get.
I use Picasa to import the photos from the SD card. The import tool puts photos into folders named by either the date the photo was taken or the current date. I rearrange the photos folders after they’re imported.
If you use Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, set photos to save automatically to one of your folders on these services; use the mobile apps to back up photos automatically from your phone.
Wi-Fi camera cards are another option to back up your photos automatically from your camera, but they’re pricier.
Set your top level folders for photos. Under your Pictures folder or wherever you store your photos, define a folder by year and month (put the year first so the folder sorts properly, and use two digits for the month). For example, this month’s folder is named 2014-06.
Under the year-month folder, create subfolders for specific events with the date of the event first in the folder name. For example, “07 Anniversary Dinner” or “07 to 15 Trip to DC” (for multi-day events).
Finally, beneath the event folder, create two folders, one called “Original,” for the photos you haven’t touched, and another called “Edited,” for those you’ve touched up and shared. It looks like this:
If your photos aren’t related to a specific event, store them directly under the month folder or create a folder that captures miscellaneous or other photos.
This structure helps you find and spot your important photos easily using the date and event.
Delete unnecessary photos. I know, I know. It’s hard going through all those photos and hitting the delete key on some of them. But it will make viewing the other photos, selecting ones to print or turn into photobooks, and otherwise enjoying them much easier later on.
So this is my system, which is much improved over my old one of just dumping them under the photos folder and calling it a day. What’s yours?