How to Organize your Digital Photos

My digital photos are somewhat organized, but over the years, I have used different folder naming conventions, which makes it increasingly difficult to find what I want easily.  So today, I developed a method to organize the images using a combination of category and date driven folders.

The first collection of folders is grouped by major categories such as Art Reference, Photos, Prints, Store Photos, and Website Photos.  Within each major category, I break down that particular category further.  Using the “Photo” folder as an example, it contains subcategories such as Friends, Family, Local Events, Nature Walks, Travel, and Work.  Then within those subcategories, I organize the images in folders using the following format:  YEAR.MM.DD – Folder Description (Example: 2008.01.02 – Nature Walk at Lettuce Lake HDR).   By listing the date format backwards, it will keep the folders chronology organized as other date formats can get out of order.  Also within the folder description, I reference important information such as HDR, which stands for high dynamic range so I can easily tell what type of photo is contained within the folder.

Once you get the basic folder structure set up, you can download a free photo organizer such as Xnview, Irfanview, or Picasa.  Some of these programs can help you further organize your images by batch renaming of file names, assigning tags (i.e. names of people, places, etc.), or assign ratings so you can easily find your favorite images.  They also assist with editing your photos if you don’t have Photoshop.  Personally, I use Adobe Bridge, which interacts with Photoshop so I can edit photos in batches to automatically resize and apply filters.

Finally, make a habit to organize your photos as you download them in a format that works for you, and of course, don’t forget to back-up your images to a CD, external hard drive, or through an online website that can also assign privacy levels.  And of course, if you have another tip on how to organize photos, please feel free to post your idea in the comments section.

Photo Credits: “why I love my vintage cameras” by Katie Weilbacher

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