How to organize your photos

April 24, 2019

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a LONG time. As a photographer (and if we’re being honest a Type A organized person) one thing I don’t have to worry about is photo organization. The upside if you’re reading this is that you probably don’t take nearly as many photos as I do….and thus you don’t have as much to organize! I love how much digital everything has reduced the amount of clutter we have in our homes but I do fear that one of the great joys of my childhood will be lost to the next generation….looking through family albums. Yeah yeah I know your kids can scroll through your iphone but if you haven’t culled any are they really going to scroll through thousands upon thousands of photos?!

A few years ago I wrote about my system for printing family photos — 1 12×12 coffee table book a year hand labeled — I just received mine from last year 2 weeks ago and now need to make the time to label it.

BUT part of what makes designing that album easy is that I’ve already done the hard work. Each month (if I’m being honest sometimes I get a month or two behind) I download all the photos from my real camera, my phone, Jeff’s phone, and any others that people have sent to a folder on my computer. I go through them one by one and try to narrow it down as much as possible – lately I’ve ended up with about 250-300 a month….not exactly peanuts! I do the same thing with movies and have started pulling the “good” ones in to a separate folder and labeling the movie with the date and what’s in it. I still don’t know how to edit movies but one day I’ll learn!

You can see my file tree from the image above — I sort my photos by month but it may be enough for you to just sort them by year into one folder. The originals are the JPEG or RAW files (from my real camera). I do edit my photos in Lightroom and then export them as full resolution JPEGs (the 300-EDITS folder) and then as I said I have started to re-name the movies and put the best ones into 00-PICKS (I start with 00 because it automatically bring it to the top)

The important thing for anyone to do is edit out all the junk so it doesn’t clog up your brain or your hard drive — if you took 20 photos (darn burst mode happens accidentally sometimes!) you probably only need to keep 3-4 — delete the rest!

After I finish my monthly edit I pull the folder onto my external hard drive which automatically gets backed up by Backblaze — I have had my hard drive fail and thankfully it wasn’t the end of the world BECAUSE of this system – they just sent me a new hard drive and I was off and running.

ICLOUD for your phone works similarly and I encourage all of you to turn on your ICLOUD backup for photos — imagine how heartbroken you’d be if you lost photos when you lost your phone and there was no way to get it back — terrible! Icloud and backblaze allow you to set it up and then forget about it — it happens automatically. Do it!

If you start organizing now then over time you can go back (if you so choose) and do the same for older photos — you just have to start somewhere.

Any other questions — happy sorting and culling!

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