Tackle this To Do List Item- The Basics of Organizing your Photos

Photo sort
Image by Stephen Cummings via Flickr

Growing up, my father was the photographer.  As soon as a family event got started he’d whip out his trusty Canon and snap away.  This was in the day of film of course, so we’d end up with several dozen flimsy envelopes full of precious family memories every year.  I shudder now to think of the hell those negatives have gone through!  Some years in the albums it’s clear that mom really tried to tell a story and carefully placed every photograph.  As the years wore on the albums get thicker and you get the feeling that an envelope worth’s of photographs was simply slapped in for the sake of doing something with them.  Eventually the albums stop and the boxes and tins full of photographs begins.  Then digital was invented and now they too sit in a dusty corner of the family’s hard drive… what hasn’t gotten accidentally erased anyway.  Sound familiar?  I vowed never to be this person, especially as a photographer.  And while every client’s file is painstakingly organized, I’m a slacker when it comes to my own little families memories.  I’m making resolutions early.  In the next few posts I’ll share my plans for tackling a long standing item on the to do list.

The Basics

1. Get Started.  Thinking about it won’t make it happen.

2. Break it up into small realistic portions.  A lifetime’s worth of memories is going to take more than a few hours to organize.

3.  Pick a starting point that excites you like a recent trip, a new baby, wedding, or holiday.  Have fun reminiscing.

4. Work through all prints before moving on to digital files or vice versa.

5. Make a preliminary sweep of your images and toss out blurry or dark images.  These aren’t helping you remember anything.

6.  Purge duplicates.  Identical shots that are special should be passed around to the appropriate friends and family.  Identical shots of your friend’s dog with a frisbee on the other hand should be tossed.

7.  Create a system that works for you.  Knowing how you plan to use the images can help you decide how to weed out what to keep and what to toss.  Will your prints go on the wall, in an album, scrapbook or as a screen saver?

8.  Be flexible.  Your system will evolve as you go along.

9. Organize new photos as you download or print them.  Even better, think about how you will use the images as you take the photo.  You may find yourself taking fewer, but more meaningful pictures.

10.  Don’t give up.  When you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break, and come back to it later.  When you are finished you will be able to enjoy your memories, and scratch one more thing off your list.

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