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Organizing Your Photos - Part 1

On any given day, my house looks like a war zone. I like to have a neat and tidy house. However, with two kids - a stubborn 3 year old and a curious almost 1 year old - it's hard to keep things clean and organized. As much as I'd like anyways. I admit defeat most days.

When I'm feeling like a domestic failure, I turn to the one area of my home that is always, neat, organized, and can't be touched by the children and even my husband - my computer.

I've been asked numerous times how to go about storing your files. Back in the "olden days", pictures and negatives were stored in albums or maybe in acid-free boxes under the bed. In the digital age where pictures sometimes never get printed, they just sit on the hard drive of your computer. Do you "pull a Monica" and cross reference them by date and subject in some kind of database? Organize them by year? By subject?

The possibilities are endless.

In this two part series, I'll first tackle how I find it best to organize the endless number of personal photos that I take.

I keep my personal files completely separate from my client images. When you work from home, this is about as separate as personal and work gets.

1. Download 

I upload my camera card every so often or when I'm wanting to blog the pictures on my personal blog or I'm downloading client images. I put everything into one big folder on my desktop and organize from there. I sift through the pictures the delete the ones I'll never use or that just didn't work. There's no point in taking up very valuable hard drive space with bum images.

2. Create/Organize into "event" folders

I organize my folders by Holidays, Events, Subject Matter, or child. I add the year for each event when they start to double so I can distinguish between each same event. If I have a lot of pictures of an event, I'll create a specific folder vs. lumping it into "Summer 2013".

For example, I chronicled my semi-failed attempts at growing a garden all summer for my personal blog. I kept taking pictures throughout the summer, so I accumulated quite a bit. Too many for my Summer 2013 folder, which is where single odds and ends pictures usually end up. I create one of these each season for pictures that don't really warrant their own folder.

Why events and not yearly folders? 

Well, given how many images I take - and that you probably take - can you imaging finding birthday images in an entire years worth of pictures? Or when you went strawberry picking? Or your little one wore that sock on his hand for 3 hours? That's a lot of sorting... Events help narrow down your search and years help distinguish time frames. It's a more or less situation - the more you "root" your pictures, the less searching you have to do.

3. Organizing Kid Pictures

When it comes to my kids, they're pretty much all I take pictures of. I can't just make an "Autumn folder" or I'll never find anything as she gets older and I add more pictures. Major events are stored under her name (like her eye surgery, birthdays, mini portrait sessions) and the remaining images are stored under a time period. 

Hm. Does anyone else notice a severe case of "2nd Child Syndrome" going on?? Eeep.


So, there you have it. That's how you'll find all of my pictures organized on my personal hard drive. I love my system. It works for me, and it's important to find a system that works for you. I find this the easiest and fastest way to find pictures when I'm blogging or creating end of the year books.

These pictures mean everything to me, so I try to take great care with them. Almost a year ago I thought I'd lost all of my pictures - client images included - and it almost devastated me. I now backup all of my hard drives using Backblaze and I'm sure to print my pictures and make my "end of the year" Shutterfly books often.

How do you organize your photos?

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