Picture this, a sunny afternoon with a gentle breeze. The air tastes fresh with soothing smells that touch your soul, the sounds show a simple natural life with birds soaring, squirrels playing and couples in love walking hand in hand with calm waves crashing against a beautiful shore. Meanwhile your indoors taking photos of your cat and adding to the digital disorder that has taken over the virtual feng shui of your world with hundreds or even thousands of unorganized photos.
If your system for photography includes buying bigger and bigger hard drives then even a halfhearted attempt at organizing that digital mess will make your collection more manageable. Please enjoy as we capture the full frame for organizing photos, but feel free to take your best shots on the ideas that just click…
Lets get together and feel all right
Break up the virtual clutter by pooling all those lurking or lost photos into one places.
Let’s See, I Mac… Both Windows and Mac operating systems let you search a drive by file type. Have yours pull up all images, then drag them over to the single drive (this is key) that you’ll be using to store photos going forward. Delete the pictures on your old drive so you don’t end up with duplicates.
The Legacy, The Legend, The End… Still have a handful of Zipdisks or CDs that don’t fit in your netbook or tablet. Your probably waiting for technology to reverse because right now you don’t have the drives to read these disks, right? Buy a used replacement drive at Kobey’s Swap Meet and thrift stores or eBay and craigslist (or whatevers the new hip thing) so you can toss these relics and re-conquer your past legends.
E-mail Hoarding much? When someone emails you a photo worth keeping, download it rather than let it sit in your inbox. If you’re on the go, put the photos in a designated “To Download” folder so you remember to deal with it when you’re back at a computer.
Memory Loss, wait what? If you’re prone to letting photos pile up on your camera’s memory card, consider getting an Eye-Fi Pro X2 wireless SD card ($100). It replaces your camera’s standard SD card and allows you to transfer photos to your computer over Wi-Fi. Generally we wouldn’t be so specific with product placement like Eye-Fi Pro X2, but after searching online it is literally the only one we found. If more memory cards exist that do something similar, please let us know. And the Lawyers Yell: ITV, San Diego County of Education, Research and Development Foundation, RDF Productions and HOW CAN I HELP? have not used or publicly endorsed this product, It’s simply an idea.
Another idea we definitely endorse is that it never hurts to keep more than one memory-card reader on hand in your home and office, since they always seem to go missing when your ready to work.
Back for the Future
Put the memories in a lock box
Don’t worry about renaming files or sorting them into sensible folders just dump everything into one place. Yes, it’s the equivalent of “filing” your papers by shoving them into a closet, but you’ve contained the beast.
Take a Second
The next step is optional but wise: Before you start editing your photos, consider copying your comprehensive photo dump onto another drive. Give it to a loved one who lives in a different area.
Put a copy on the cloud and its virtually the same thing
The Cutting Room Floor
All of your cat photos are lovely, but its time to simplify the search for finding what you seek when your looking for photos. Remember IMG 12865_01-01-1900.jpg it was so much more fun than 01011900.mpg
The Right Time and Place
The latest operating systems make browsing and sorting thousands of photos a breeze. Both Windows Live Photo Gallery, which comes with the latest version of Windows, and iPhoto for Mac are great options. You can also download free image organizers like Xnview (open source) and Irfanview (popular).
Picasa from Google is an easy-to-use photo management tool. It works with both PC and Mac. If you deal with photos for work, it can be helpful to designate one program for business-related images and another for personal ones. However, read the fine print on the agreement you sign with Picasa/Google. It gives Google the rights to all of the photos you put on the site, for their unrestricted use.
Go On and Edit
Try to keep the duds from making their way off your camera in the first place. Delete the blurry shots, the ones your sure you don’t want and narrow down multiples directly on the camera. This is a great time-killing activity to do on the go. Instead of gratuitously checking email or launching Angry Birds, edit. It’ll be a lasting accomplishment that lets you enjoy the images you’ve taken.
Keep The Stars, Remember the Stories!
Remember the time you were outside, its great to bring nature indoors with photos and memories around your home. Most photo software will let you rate your photos on a scale of one to five stars. Simplify your search by going with a thumbs up or thumbs down rather then a grading scale (0 stars or 5 stars). To make the process more manageable go with your gut reaction and make split-second judgments for a fun game of going through your photos.
Give your photo a shot! Enjoy giving out stars easily because you can always get more critical on subsequent passes. And don’t worry about the no star mediocre photos, they will still be in your cloud of memories if you want to revisit them.
My Photo means only Me!
Photo organizing software will pull up every image in a drive or folder. If you have some that you’d rather keep private, compress the image into a zip file (it’s one step on a Mac or PC) and then delete the original. We all worry that a tech-savvy 8 year old will hack into our master plans, but this is at least some prevention from an embarrassing moment. Stay even more active and THINK before you click, should this be documented! Would I want my mom, wife, husband, daughter, son or community to see this photo?
Time for some Tagging
Let your camera and computer do the bulk of the work and be a boss instead of sticking to the menial chores.
Keep it chronological.
When you’re dealing with thousands of photos, having them correctly time-stamped is essential. Make sure your camera’s clock and calendar are set correctly, and don’t forget to adjust them if you travel across time zones. And to keep your camera’s clock battery (which is different than the rechargeable battery you have access to) from going dead, don’t store your camera for prolonged periods without the rechargeable battery in place. When you’re going through images, you may find a bunch dated something weird like January 1, 1901. Fret not. You can use your photo software to correct the date embedded in the image.
What in the world, Maybe San Diego?
One advantage of using a smartphone camera is that most support geotagging, which records the GPS coordinates where a photo was taken. Pictures from your trip to Shanghai, for example, will automatically get grouped without creating a folder and adding each one manually.
Thats the man, officer!
Picasa, iPhoto and Windows Live Photo Gallery are fairly good at guessing who the people in a photo are once you train the programs a bit. The algorithm isn’t perfect, but it beats tagging photos by hand. And seeing whom the software mistakes your friends and family for can be fun. Sure, you could enter more descriptive tags. But who, when and where should let you find the majority of photos you may be looking for, or at least get you in the vicinity. Facebook and other social media platforms also allow for yourself and your friends to tag images. As a photo moves from one area to another, always be in control of the security… should this be public, private, deleted or repeated!
Take a snapshot of these ideas and best of luck in easily turning a digital mess into a library reflecting your legacy.