Organizing your digital photos can be complicated. If you’re anything like most people, you love taking photos. Every day whether you are out and about trying your new gear or just hanging out with friends, you are probably taking tons of photos. We all relentlessly shoot picture after picture only to assure ourselves that we have the best one possible.
The next step after getting a lot of pictures is to transfer to your computer and save your files correctly. Organizing your photos can be stressful and annoying to do if you don’t have a systematic method in place. Taking the time to learn what to do will save you hours of sorting through hundreds of photos later on to find the exact picture that you’re looking for.
Organize Your Photos
I’ll show you exactly everything you can do to start organizing your photos like a pro.
The first thing to do is to decide whether or not you want to categorize your collection by date or by moments (camping trips, holidays, vacations, friends, family, etc). I prefer to do a combination of both.
Either have your main folder as the year and month (2019 folder with each month inside) and keep your subcategory folder within each month. For example, your main folder with all your pictures inside could be called pictures and within that folder, you would have each year, and within each year you would have all the months, and within each month you would categorize the moments with subfolders (your moments).
Backup Your Digital Photos
If you have a collection of photos that you keep on your computer or hard drive, then it’s imperative to always make sure you back them up. If you don’t do this, it’s not about if you lose your photos, but when.
Too many people make the mistake of not backing up their photos and lose all their memories due to unforeseen circumstances.
Backing up photos doesn’t take long and it’s something you should do to make sure you have your photos for the rest of your life. I use two hard drives, one as a main workhorse storage drive and the second as a backup.
This way I’m sure that I have two copies of each file and avoid losing my photos.
I find that the best and cheapest is the Seagate Backup Slim 2T like the one in the image. It’s a small, portable and fast hard drive (USB 3.0) I bought two of them and you should too. I also take them with me when I travel.
If you have a slightly bigger budget I also recommend buying the awesome Seagate Expansion, a 8TB Desktop External Hard Drive with USB 3.0 as a main storage unit for home.
Delete With No Mercy, Keep Only the Best Shots
If you want to get the best photos possible for each and every photo then you’re going to want to take as many photos as possible per picture that you take. No one wants one picture to be taken and find out their eyes were closed or you don’t want to take a shot of a beautiful landscape and find out you had the wrong settings.
Especially in the beginning, I recommend taking a minimum of 5 – 10 pictures per photo you want to add to your collection (or even more). Then you can delete the other 4 – 9 photos and choose only the best.
This way you won’t lose yourself in a labyrinth of image files you don’t like and are just taking space in your hard drive. A great tool to go through your photos and add a tag to the best ones is Lightroom. Read more about Lightroom in this guide.
Use the Right Tools. Photo Mechanic
As I mentioned above, a great tool when it comes to categorize and tag photos is Adobe Lightroom. Yes Lightroom is not only an editing software, it’s also a powerful for its organizing tool. But Lightroom is not the most efficient one.
If you want to take it a step further, many professional photographers use Photo Mechanic for its speed and efficiency it brings to their workflow.
Photo Mechanic is not an alternative to Lightroom, but a photo managing tool with which load photo previews fast, add ratings and color labels to your collection and add metadata to your files (such as copyright, date, etc), perform batch actions and much more.
The great thing about Photo Mechanic is that you can use it with your preferred editor too. You can link them together and harness the power of both at the same time. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like an in depth guide on how to use it in your workflow. And if you want you can download a free trial from their website.
Doing Things Right the First Time
I want you to always do the right thing when it comes to organizing and saving your photos. It’s important to stick with a routine when it comes to taking pictures and managing digital files.
If you don’t have a set time when you edit and organize your photos you’ll end up coming back to a mess of photos and taking up more of your time than needed.
Some people like to wait until they backup their photos to their second hard drive. I believe the best possible thing to do is to delete any unwanted photos immediately after copying them from your camera and before doing the editing.
To easily and neatly organize everything it’s important to stay consistent and experiment at the same time. Consistency and routine will help you get in the habit of doing things right away and saving you a lot of time.
Whatever way you decide to organize your photos make sure to stick with it. Developing a system can take time but if you keep to the same system it really makes a huge difference. Shoot as many pictures as possible, delete them regularly (as soon as you’ve chosen the best picture), organize them with the right tools and edit them as soon as you get home!
I hope that you’ve been able to learn a thing or two from this article and you’ll be able to put your photo organizing skills to use. Take your photo editing skills to the next level, become more organized and get the most out of every shot!
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.