Mar 30, 2016

Digital Photo Organization

It's 2016. I think just about every single one of us has digital clutter, correct? Hundreds (or thousands!) of pictures and videos on our phones and even more saved to memory cards, computers and goodness knows where else! It can be incredibly overwhelming and until about a year ago, my photo organization was non-existent. The wake-up call came for me while working on photobooks and realizing how much longer the process took simply because I couldn't find the photos I wanted at the time I wanted them.

I knew I needed a system in place going forward. I didn't want my computer to just become a pit of endless photos that never saw the light of day again. My system is basic, but once I got it in place my life got a lot easier, honest. A lot of people have asked me how I go about the organization as well as the creating of photobooks so I'm happy to share today!

The steps I take now to keep digital photos organized:

-Regularly upload your camera's card/phone photos.
I was guilty of having multiple SD cards laying around and would use whichever one I saw first in one of my 2 cameras. That made finding anything a huge pain in the butt. I try to keep a designated memory card with each camera now and save the other ones for back-up/emergencies. Don't let your photos sit around on memory cards forever either, upload them and proceed to the next steps!

-Cull the photos immediately upon uploading.
Culling your photos basically means getting rid of the crappy ones. You upload over 200 photos from Christmas... go through them all. Right now! You don't need 27 photos of your tree's lights and chances are only a handful of the pictures of your rambunctious niece actually aren't blurry. Delete the ones you don't need to keep so you don't waste time sifting through them later when you're ready to print or share them.

-Label everything.
Everyone's system is different but here is what I do. I have a yearly folder, then monthly and then I name each folder by the event and/or date depending on what I feel like will help me find things the fastest. Sometimes I just have random photos and nothing really to name them, but I'll still label them March 14-20 which then goes into my March, into my 2016 folder. However if I attended "Lacey's Baby Shower" in March, that folder will be titled that. 


*Note about blogger photos
I also keep a separate folder for pictures I either take specifically for a blog post OR are copies of other photos that maybe I'd edited or resized and know I wouldn't be printing at any point.

Another worry for me was losing these digital photos. Even though they are nice and organized now- what happens when your computer completely crashes?! As far as printing and what photos projects you do with photos- that's up to you. But please, prints those photos in some form!! :) I have been making yearly family photo books through Shutterfly so in order to feel like my pictures are safe and I'll never lose one I:

- Create a yearly photobook through Shutterfly. January - December every year. Special occasions (like weddings) or big vacations (like DisneyWorld) get their own separate books, too.
- At the end of my order, I can add on a CD. They'll save all the photos I used in the book to a CD and I can purchase that with my book. Yes, I COULD do this on my own but this saves a ton of time and ensures I at least have a back-up of all my favorite photos. Even though I cull my photos in advance, not every single picture I took in 2016 will make the photobook!
- Save the entire yearly folder of photos onto an external hard drive. They are worth the cost, get one.
Fun Disney friend not included with purchase

So now I've got a hard copy in a book form, a CD of the photos in the book and also the entire yearly conglomeration of photos on both my computer and my external HD. I feel like my photos are pretty secure, not to mention- organized.

I hope this helps someone else who's photos need decluttered. It's an overwhelming process to start, so break it up little by little just to be sure it gets done. At one point I had close to 20,000 photos on my computer. Yes, 20,000. I started culling them a little bit each week. Just 20 minutes here and there, deleting stuff that I didn't need until it became manageable. You can start there, and then work your way into the yearly and monthly folders. Going forward after that should be breeze! 

28 comments:

  1. Very informative post, friend. I do similar things you do with saving pictures, but I need to get better at culling them immediately. I'm also trying to do a book for each year but the backfill books make me feel so behind. I have an external drive, need to update it though ;)!

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  2. I'm still in the middle of my digital organization but it's insanely better than it used to be! I have mine like that as well! Yearly, then by month as well. Great post, girl!!!

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  3. I love how organized you are with your photos!! I mean it sounds simple enough, but I can guarantee that hardly anyone does this and we all should be doing it!!! I haven't printed a photo in I don't know how long. I need to get on board with the photo books! Thanks for sharing your plan!

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  4. I echo the external hard drive... I learned the hard way a couple of months ago when out of the blue, my hard drive got completely wiped out. I lost EVERYTHING... every picture of my kids, every adventure, etc. It's so devastating!

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  5. I really need to do a better job of labeling, organizing, and deleting.

    I do a great job of backing all my stuff up to either Google photos when I'm mobile or Thislife.com when I'm using one of my memory card cameras. I'd cry if I lost my pictures.

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  6. I really need to invest in an external hard drive, like yesterday. Since I got my new laptop a little over a year ago I've managed to keep my photos fairly organized into events and a separate folder for photos that I've edited for the blog. I do need to work on culling them though, every once and awhile I'll remember and go through but more often than not it's an every few months kind of task. I've recently started uploading all of my phone photos to my computer once a month which has made a huge difference. It keeps my phone's memory open and I don't forget to include those candid phone photos when I get prints made.

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  7. I have a pretty similar system minus the culling. I need to be better at that. Exactly like you said, I have tons of the same photo or blurry ones. Definitely gotta work on that area. And continuing to make the photo books!! I keep thinking I will work on some and have them saved on Shutterfly to purchase next time they have a great deal, but then I just keep letting life get in the way. :/

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  8. Ahh, digital organization. Such a pain, but SO SO important! Glad you have a system that works for you- I'm going to add culling to mine now since I've never heard of that before!

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  9. I'm with you on this 100%. I'm switching from CD's to USB sticks though because the new macbooks don't have a CD drive and in case I ever update, I want to make sure I can easily access anything I need.

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  10. The external hard drive really is 100% worth it! We have a couple that all backup to our main external hard drive. I also loved that you organized your pictures by year and then by month and then by event! It makes it so much easier to go back and find something!

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  11. My external hard drive is my life line, but I'm SO BAD about culling my photos, particularly since I'm so afraid I'm going to delete one I love. Plus, I never want to forget the beauty of Hawaii so I just keep them all!

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  12. So perfect! Sometimes organizing pictures really does seem like an impossible task because we have so many! Totally worth it, though. I put all of my pictures on my external hard drive a couple times a year and it's really the BEST thing you could ever do. A friend once dropped a can of Pepsi on my laptop, totally frying it. I lost everything, but all my pictures were saved on my external hard drive.

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  13. I loved reading about this! I actually have the same system you do, so it was fun to read about yours and then feel like that fist pound emoji when I realized I do all of this too :) lol. The culling part is KEY. I immediately go through and delete the blurry ones or whatever, and that cuts back on the ones I save. I used to just make a general month folder, but organizing by event makes it so much easier! Although, I will tell you that I am having the hardest time organizing baby pictures. BECAUSE there's no event, right? Like, Day Fifteen = 45 baby photos and there is no culling because they are all perfect, even the blurry ones! So what am I to do? The struggle is real ;)

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  14. I used to be much better about this. The new snapfish site is killing my soul, too...it's making it really hard to find photos I've uploaded.

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  15. This is one of those things I KNOW i have to do, but haven't done...or at least haven't gone back to do for previous picture photos! thanks for sharing all of this - in the process of making a book from our trip last month! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  16. This is inspiring! I used to do this exactly, but after having a baby I've been slacking. I feel like I can't delete any pictures of her! Haha. I have a horrifying amount of pictures and while they're organized on my computer, I still need to work on deleting some.

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  17. oh gosh the amount of photos I have is ridiculous! The hard part for me is remembering when something happened to know when to go back to that date. But I have a very similar system as you do... Yearly folder, within that monthly folders and with in that daily photos. Once baby comes you'll have thousands of pictures...not even joking! I can't tell you how many times my counter on my camera has started over...

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  18. Ahh, I need to get so much better at this!

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  19. I love this! I'm a scrapbooker (or at least I have the stuff to be one) and can't justify making books on Shutterfly when all of that scrapbooking stuff is sitting in the closet. I keep telling myself to find the time to get my pictures printed and my books made, but I've yet to do it. I guess having a baby will do that to ya. I've made a few books on Shutterfly in the past and love it! Maybe this will be the inspiration I needed to get working on mine.

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  20. Hi Erin! I am a huge fan of your blog! (And Kayla's too, you both seem like so much fun!) Quick question, do you use iPhoto at all, or do you just use folders? I have thousands of pictures in iPhoto, but it would probably be beneficial to get them in folders. Thanks for the inspiration and tips!

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    1. I actually don't use iPhoto; I just stick with the folder system since I've found I can't sort how I like within iPhoto!

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    2. Good to know, thanks for responding!

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  21. Ugh, I don't do ANY of this except regularly loading photos onto the computer from my camera, and I really need to. The idea of the yearly Shutterfly book is killing me right now because I really do want it, but I haven't managed to make any albums for Hendrik yet! Though if I followed your steps leading up to that, I probably would have a much easier time sitting down to do the albums, since I'd be more organized. Good thing you have all this in place now - the digital photo pile-up only increases (a lot) when you have a baby :)

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  22. I love these tips! I really need to start making photo books. I just bought a external hard drive and have been saving everything I can!

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  23. love this! my computer crashed a few years ago and i lost ALL of my photos. so i am paranoid of this happening again haha. i do the same thing - yearly, monthly, and then individual events or whatever. i also have a 'phone' folder, that i split into months as well, and every month i upload the previous month's photos and delete them from my phone. it's annoying at the time, but it's so easy when i want to find something (as i take most photos with my phone lol). i am behind on backing things up to my external hard drive though, so i need to do that. also, adding a cd on the shutterfly order is brilliant! i have been meaning to do the CD thing for months but the cds are just sitting there lol. thanks for sharing how you organise your photos!

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  24. This is a great post, definitely saving for later. I have an external hard drive that had a ton of old pictures and files but they were from my old laptop. Well now I have to reconvert them so they work on my Mac (or something like that, according to my dad lol) and I've realized how many duplicate files I had. SO frustrating because I could have saved a ton of time by just organizing and deleting stuff in the first place.

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  25. I try to cull my photos as I take them, at the end of an event or when I put them all into my computer. But I am NOT good about backing them up at all! And most of them end up sitting there in my computer waiting to be looked at. Your photobooks are GORGEOUS! I might be seriously inspired by them :)

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  26. Just saved this post-- I absolutely love these tips! This is something that I could see myself doing and I like the idea of having yearbooks for life.. someday I want to be able to show my kids my time in China!

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