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For the past few years, my idea of organising our digital photos was to dump them all in a folder called “Photos to Organise”.
As you can imagine, the more photos that have gone into this folder (and we’re talking nearly 1,000 here), the less motivated I’ve felt about organising them.
In fact, it got so depressing I started a new folder: “More Photos to Organise.” It’s got nearly 1,000 pictures in it too.
Finding a photo is a nightmare, especially if it’s one I’ve taken a while back and I want to use it on the blog. Photos lost amongst the multitude.
This year, starting from January, I’ve implemented a new system for organising my photos and it’s been working out great. Photos are much easier to find and I’ve taken a moment to cull them, leaving only the best, which saves space on the hard drive as well as frustration and digital clutter.
So today I thought I would share the system I’ve started using to organise our digital photos.
How to organise your digital photos
Download your photos from your camera, phones and tablets at least once a month. This means that if something happens to your camera or phone, you haven’t lost all of your photos.
I download them into a temporary folder and then process them straight away (otherwise there would be yet another folder of photos to organise).
2. CULL YOUR PICS
If you’re anything like me, you’ve taken 463 photos of the same thing, from different angles [can you PLEASE just SMILE, just once] to get that perfect shot.
So now is the time to go through your pics and cull the duds. This will save you time and space later on.
Be brutal. Nobody wants to look at a thousand shots of the same thing, including your future self. A few photos that capture the essence of an event, person, occasion or experience is all you need.
3. ORGANISE YOUR FILES
There are lots of different ways to organise your digital photos, but this is the way that has worked best for me.
I have a folder in my Pictures Library for each year, labelled with the the year (so this year’s folder is simply called “2014”).
In this folder I have a folder for each month labelled “1. January”, “2. February”, “3. March” etc.. The numbers in front of each month keeps the months in order.
In the folder for each month, I have separate folders for each set of photos, labelled as something descriptive like “Holiday at Nanna’s”.
I keep a separate folder for blog pictures (“2014 Blog Pics”) and another for random pictures like landscapes I’ve been experimenting with, or pictures of things I make.
4. EDIT YOUR PHOTOS
All photos can use a little TLC before you print or share them.
My current favourite photo editing program is PicMonkey. It’s a free online photo editor that’s really easy to use. It’s powerful enough for the home photographer without a whole heap of confusing bells and whistles.
You can see how I use PicMonkey to edit my photos here, including essential edits every photo should have.
Because you’ve already culled a lot of you pictures, this will only take a few minutes and it will make your photos ready to view, share and print, whenever you are.
5. RENAME AND TAG YOUR PICTURES
While you’re editing your picture, give it a new name – something descriptive about the picture.
You can also add information about your picture, including the people in it, the place and tags. A few extra minutes now will mean you have all the information in the years to come, long after you’ve forgotten names and circumstances.
To add information to your picture, right click on the file and select Properties. Under the Details tab, enter your pictures information. This way, you never forget who is in the picture and what it was about.
I think it’s sad we don’t do hard copy photos and photo albums anymore. It’s nicer browsing through an album on the lounge, than scrolling through photos on a screen.
I pick a few of the best photos from each set and copy them into a “To Print” folder. These I either get printed or I make them into photo books at the end of the year (an always welcome Nanna gift). I wait for Snapfish to have 60% off photo books close to Christmas.
Finally back up your photos so you don’t lose them if your computer crashes.
Then you can delete them from your camera, so you’ve got plenty of room for new photos.
The whole process only takes half an hour or so, especially if you’ve been ruthless with your culling. And really, do we need all the thousands of photos that we take these days?
Organising and labelling your photos regularly allows you to easily find and view them in the future, and remember the circumstances in which they were taken.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.