How to Organize Digital Photos
How to Organize Digital Photos
How to Organize Digital Photos

While on a recent photo shoot, we were taking a break and checking phones for messages and the conversation shifted toward how many photos everyone had on their various devices. It's so easy to take pictures these days! A quick swipe and some taps on your smartphone and now you have a new photo gallery. The downside of the speed and convenience is the tendency to quantity rather than quality in the saved images.  

Have you looked through your devices and found that you don't recall many of the images? Have you been warned that your device(s) are full? Are you starting out and want to have a head start on organizing? These organizing and decluttering tips are for you!  

1. Create a Central Photo Hub Location (This should be one location.) 

No matter where you are in your organizing and decluttering of images, the first step is figuring out what you have. Gather all your devices that are holding your digital photos. Smartphones, computers, laptops, digital cameras, memory cards, thumb drives, CDs – you name it. (If you have floppy disks you may need to have those transferred by a service, nothing lasts forever.) Once you've gathered your gear, move all of your photos to one central location. This could be a desktop computer or an external hard drive. (Remember all hard drives are either dead or dying, so you'll want backup options too.) 

2. Organize & Label the Photos 

The easiest way to begin organizing is by sorting the photos by year, then month or season. You'll want to develop a label convention and use it consistently to create sub-folders within for special occasions, locations, or types of images. The easiest way to organize your photos is by placing them into properly labeled folders. This organizing step will make life much simpler for you when you're searching for a specific picture to print, share, or send.

2019-11-15 Outlaw Chinooks 
2019-Summer > Dogs + Horses on the Beach

TIP: If you're like many people, you may be taking screenshots and reminder photos. Delete any that you don't need and put the rest in a folder called "Reminders" for the year. That way you have them if you need them and at the end of the year, you'll likely be able to delete most of them. 

3. Delete, Delete, Delete and then Delete some more 

Are you a photo hoarder? If so, welcome to the club! Photo hoarding is widespread and is a tough habit to break. Make it easy on yourself and start with clearing out photos you've transferred to your central hub.  The next step is evaluating your photos. Be ruthless in your culling process. You may find once you sort through all the images that you are getting rid of 75% of the photos you have.  

Ask yourself these questions to help you decide. 

Is the photo in focus? 
Are people and animal eyes open? 
Is the image framed well?
Is it a duplicate? Do you have another image that represents the moment better?  
Would you ever print this picture?

Only keep the best photos from any batch you are sorting. When you've narrowed it down, back up your photo library with an external hard drive or take advantage of one of the unlimited online photo storage options available. (Some are free, and some have an annual fee.)

4. Print Your Best Moments for Safe Keeping

What's the point of taking great photos if they sit on your devices and you never look at them again? As you sift through and categorize years of photos, print the ones you love. So many places offer custom photo books, and that's a great way to keep an annual record of your best images. Create a calendar of your favorite images to enjoy all year. There are so many attractive display options that won't break the bank. 

For a stunning addition to your coffee table, sum up each year with an annual photo book of your best shots. Or, stay organized year-round by creating a custom calendar, selecting one great seasonal photo for each month. You choose the starting month, so you can order any time.

5. Change Your Mindset on Images

Now that you've put in the work to organize and declutter your images, you may want to adjust your photo taking habits. Try not to be a "spray and pray" shooter wildly taking random shots. Instead, you may want to pause for a moment, make small adjustments to your lighting, angles, and background are better. By taking a few moments on the front end of shooting, you'll spend less time sorting and purging photos and more time enjoying them.