I know if you’re like me, you probably have a gazillion digital photos on your computer. Maybe they’re in different folders. Maybe you even took the time to name some of them (or maybe they’re all still named DSCN_9739503).
For whatever place you’re at, I promise I won’t tell you to print them out and arrange them into scrapbooks. That would require too much effort, and this is about organizing digital photos the easy way.
* Decide how you want to sort your photos. I prefer chronological order, so I group the photos into months. If there is a special event with a lot of photos, I make a group for that too.
* Give each photo a descriptive label, and use the same format each time. Both Picasa and iPhoto will let you rename several photos at the same time.
I use the date and then the name of the person or event, followed by the sequence number. When I type the date I use the format YYYYMMDD, because even when the computer sorts the photos alphabetically, they will stay in chronological order. This is the 11th photo of Lane taken on May 10, 2008, so it is named 20080510 – Lane 11.
* Now this is a very important part: The best tool for organizing your digital photos is the delete button.
Yes people, I said it, you need to delete some photos. When I’m taking pictures I usually take a few shots to make sure I get it right, because whenever you take pictures of a running kid with a point-and-shoot camera, you’re really just hoping for the best. So I take a few with the idea that some of them will be clear and some won’t be, and possibly a few will turn out to be pretty good. Go through your photos really quickly and delete the obvious ones — the ones that are too blurry to see, or the practice shots, or the ones that you just don’t like.
If you have photos that look similar, pick your favorites–the ones that make you smile or stir your heart–and feel free to delete the others. It’s not about conserving memory on your computer, it’s about creating a nice collection to look at later. Even if all of them turned out pretty good, it is more enjoyable to look at your favorite 25 photos of an event rather than 100 photos that look the same.
Just like when you declutter your stuff, if you get rid of the extras photos, the ones you keep become more special. Once you have done this, you’ll enjoy looking through the pictures as a slideshow on your computer, and you won’t feel as guilty about not printing them out or putting them into albums.
* Back them up! If you have a lot of photos, get a backup drive so you can copy all of them to the drive easily, or you can copy them to discs. Set a reminder on your calendar so you’ll remember to do it.