If there’s one iron-clad rule of digital photography it’s this: your image collection will grow like a weed. It can’t be helped, of course, but it does present something of an organizational challenge. The longer you wait to organize your images, the harder the task becomes. Here are four tips to help you organize those photos, and keep them organized forever.
1. Set Yourself Up for Success
You’ll do yourself a huge favor by preparing to organize your photos before you even press the shutter. For instance, ensuring the date/time function on your camera is set accurately will make your life easier when you’re importing your images using software like Photo Studio since the software will use that information to label and arrange your images into folders.
It also pays to save your photos onto an empty memory card. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard complain about memory cards that are bursting (metaphorically) with images that have piled up over months, even years. While it’s easy to let your photos build up, you’re only making things harder. Get into the habit of transferring those photos off the card completely before you shoot (or better, immediately after) so that you’ll have fewer images to grapple with going forward.
2. Leverage Photo Studio
While Microsoft bundles basic photo organizing tools within the Windows operating system, they’re not nearly as useful as premium photo software like Photo Studio. That’s why you should always work within a photo software program like Photo Studio when you’re importing your images, not after they’ve been transferred. When it comes to your photos, drag-and-drop is not your friend.
When you’re ready to import images, create a folder with as specific a name as possible. (You’ll find this option under “Create Subfolders” on the right hand side of Photo Studio.) I like to use the month, year and event in the folder description.
After you import your photos you should immediately add keywords and edit your EXIF data. In Photo Studio’s Manager tab, you can pull up detailed information on each photo and add general keywords (such as events, people, animals, etc.) that can later be used to refine your image searches. You can also add color codes to your photos, updated location information if your camera doesn’t automatically add GPS coordinates, even audio notes. All of these details make your images more searchable, which, ten years and tens of thousands of photos later, will be immensely valuable (trust us).
For a thorough run-down on how to access and edit EXIF data in Photo Studio, click here.
3. Treat it like banking
I wish I could say I’ve found a way to add an extra hour to the day, but unfortunately, keeping up with your photos is competing with the million and one other things in your life. That’s just a fact, but it needn’t be a debilitating one. Think of it like banking. You don’t have to obsessively pour over your bank account every minute of the day to make sure your money’s where it should be, but it’s important to regularly keep up with your bills. Treat your photos the same way. Allocating a small chunk of time on a per-week basis to import and manage your images will help you stay on top of it.
4. Integrate your backup
An essential part of your photographic life should be backing up and protecting your photo collection. But this, too, presents an organizational challenge since the best way to protect your photos it to make multiple copies of them and store them on external hard drives and the cloud. So now you have not one, but potentially three, sets of photo collections to keep track of.
Fortunately, Photo Studio has a useful feature you can tap into when importing images. You’ll find it in the Import tab on the right column — “make a second copy.” You can simply connect an external drive to your PC and have Zoner create a copy of your new images right on the drive while simultaneously importing them into your PC. If you use cloud services like Box or Dropbox, you can also use “make a second copy” to upload images directly to those services (provided you have those folders on your desktop). This way your new images are not only imported (and organized properly) on your PC, they’re also instantly backed up (and organized!) on your external hard drive.
Bonus Tip: Seek Professional Help
If you’re overwhelmed, pressed for time or otherwise disinterested in tackling the craziness that is your photo collection, don’t despair. Instead, head over to APPO.org and hire a professional photo organizer to do it for you. Yes, such a thing exists. A professional organizer will not only help you tame your digital photo collection but they can help with photo prints as well (you can see a full list of their services here).
(Top Image: Picturific)