Photos. How do you organize them? How do you store them? How do you preserve them? Well, I’ve had “Organize Photos” on my To Do list for most of the summer. And by “summer” I mean 2013. Before I jump into nuts and bolts, I should say that when it comes to organization, the golden rule is Whatever Works For YOU. Whether or not my system is tantamount to the Friends Reunion Movie makes no difference if it’s not something that you will implement. But this works for me and seems to provide the right combination of security and accessibility.
Without further ado, here are my tips for organizing digital images.
1. Whether you use an Apple or a PC, the first thing I do is organize my photos. iPhoto makes this super easy by setting up Events, but the PC equivalent would be a Folder. Be specific with your labeling. For generic events, i.e. Christmas, I make sure to include the year. So Christmas ’12 or Easter ’11. I take care to stay consistent: Christmas vs. Xmas. Typically I have a folder for each month (August ’13), but I’ll also create folders for special events that might take place within that month (August Vacation ’13).
I don’t do a ton of editing and haven’t cracked the Photoshop code, but I do use the built in editing software in iPhoto just to review my images to make sure they’re bright enough or clear enough. I also am ruthless about deleting photos that I will never use or want prints of… no point in saving an image that has zero value.
2. Back up, back up, back up.
Whenever I can, I transfer my Events to two separate external hard drives. My goal is to have my images in at least two places at all times. I keep photos on my computer for anywhere from 9-12 months, depending on the subject matter. (My external hard drives are completely accessible, but obviously it’s easier to have images that I need still on my computer.)
I use this one from Amazon:
G-Technology G-DRIVE mobile USB 500GB 5400RPM Portable External Hard Drive 0G01664 (White)
And this one from the Apple Store (also available on Amazon):
LaCie Porsche Design P’9220 1 TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive 302000
I’ve used Kodak Gallery (now Shutterfly) for years. I love their simple albums and easy interface… Shutterfly is a little different, but since all of my photos were already with Kodak, it was much easier just to stick with Shutterfly since they transferred all images before the change over. With my photos already organized into nice neat Events, I upload each event to Shutterfly whenever I can. (Ultimately, I might end up with an Event of photos on my computer, on Shutterfly and then on 2 external hard drives.)
Once my photos are on Shutterfly, I create photo books (actual bound, printed on paper books…); the language gets complicated since many of these online sites consider your digital events or folders an “album” and then the thing that you buy and have shipped is the photo book or print. Unless we’ve been on a really spectacular trip worthy of its own album, I just add photos chronologically with simple captions until I fill an album.
When I stumble across a frame worthy picture, I’ll copy it and stick it in it’s own folder/ Event. Because our photo wall is all black and white pictures, I convert my color photographs into black and white with the iPhoto editing software. Once this event is pretty well stocked, I’ll upload it to Shutterfly and order prints. (One thing I haven’t tried is ordering the super size print at Staples like you see highlighted on Pinterest all the time…)
If you have iPhoto, the editing software is below your photos where it says “Edit”.
Once you click edit, you have the choice of which ways to edit: retouch (great for those crows feet… just sayin’), red eye adjuster , cropping and the two I use the most… Adjust and Effects
To convert color photographs into black-and-white, open the “Effects” feature.
I’ve found that a combination of selecting the “Black and White” effect and then “Boost Color” is a good one. Here you can see the difference when you “Boost Color.”
So that’s it, folks. 4 simple steps. One thing I try to remember is that external hard drives are imperative, but they also have a shelf life. Having so many of my images printed in albums makes me somewhat reassured, but I am also diligent about making sure my hard drives aren’t corrupt or compromised in some way. Most people would agree with the advantages of digital photography, but it’s not fool proof!
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