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Photo Organization 101 {For Creative Bloggers} #2

Organizing digital photos can be overwhelming, but not if you set up a user-friendly organizing system!

Check out Part 1 to get started!

Jan 2012: 36,404 digitial photos

Dec 2002: 719 digital photos

Do not underestimate the fact that this can get complex really, really fast. Might as well get organized. 

PART #2: The computer folder system.

The idea is to develop a filing system by using folders on your hard drive. I've tried throwing everything in one folder each year and using tags to divide it up but managing all of those files is unwieldy and inefficient. If you need to visually scan for something, imagine the infinite page-downs you'll do! So my suggestion is that you divide up your photos but not so much that the system itself drives you bonkers.

Develop a system and use it. A system means the "folder" array you will be using.

Typical filing methods are by date (i.e. year) or subject (i.e. family) or subject within a time period (i.e. a folder for 2011, and inside that folder, folders for Family and Travel) or date within a subject (i.e. a folder for Family and inside that folder, folders for 2010 and 2011).

Here's my basic filing system. This is my folder structure for 2012. 

2012 Photos Folder 

1Q12 - the quarterly folders are for NON-ART photos (family, cool stuff, garden, etc)




2012 Antarctica (just kidding - it'll be for whatever trip we do)

2012 Exports (photos go here when compressed for web/flickr/etc)

2012 Art

2012 Mandalas/Doodles

2012 Paint

2012 Art Journal

2012 Stitched

2012 Everything (all other art)


I queried a bunch of creative bloggers about their photo organization (or lack thereof) and these artists volunteered to share their process.

Carlene [blogs at Taylor Maide]: "Our family photos have gotten very disorganized and spread over a couple of computers. My 2012 goal is to start from this point with a workable system and then begin to gather and conform the past photos to that system. We need one place to store them online (achieves back up of photos and allows my husband and I both access to them)." 

Less: [blogs at Comfortable Shoes Studio] "I'll be honest here, my photos have no organization. Generally speaking, after I've used them in a blog post I rarely look at them again. I load them to my computer by date, edit, load to the blog as needed and then after 3 months dump them on my 2 terabyte hard drive or the 500 gig hard drive, never to be seen or looked at again. Sometimes I load them to flickr. I shoot many on my iPod touch and delete them when it gets too full and runs slow. I have never looked at my photos as precious things more as disposable. I know this is a rather unusual viewpoint to take, I just can't be bothered to treat them as anything else. I do treat the photos I shoot of my art a little differently- I store those on both hard drives, also labeled by date shot but in a folder called art archives. The images I shoot specifically for my various zines and articles I've done are in this folder but haphazardly stored by date, sometimes in a subfolder labeled zine. The pics I take just for taking pics I do look back at, but those are also organized in my haphazard manner- date shot etc. Honestly, I'm so visual I am able to look at the folder thumbnail and know which images are in it."

Stéphanie [blogs at Luthien]: "I have my photos in a folder called photos and then I have different categories, like hobby, family, pets, nature, holidays. Those folders are subdivided into folders. For example hobby is divided into painting, drawings, challenges, journals. And most of those folders are subdivided too. Journal: elise class, indexcards, painted journals ect. I keep all my photos together. So not really separated with the family photos. Everything goes into one big folder!"

So the next step is for you to figure out what folders you would like to use to keep all of your photos!

Read the rest of the series! Part #1Part #2Part #3 & Part #4Part #5 and Tips on Photographing Your Art.

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Reader Comments (4)

I like your system - I've been keeping separate folders for each month, but there are a couple of folders in the middle of winter with only one or two images in them. Quarterly folders means I can see more of a timeline in my life than I would otherwise.

To me, the most important part of photo organisation is the software you're managing it with - a good program makes all the difference in the world.

{Tammy}: Wendy, My tendency to segregate things by quarter goes back to my accounting days I think. It's how I see the year. And yes, with regards to software I think that managing photos just on your hard drive is difficult without some help in terms of software. I always recommend Google Picasa as a free tool to organize and do basic edits.

01.31.2012 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

most of the pictures we take are of our daughter (she's two, it's expected) and those get loaded to Picasa, I go through and fix any red-eye and select some to be added to that month's album, then Hero goes through the album and edits them properly, and then I upload them to shutterfly and email her grandparents to go look at them. (Hero is a much better photographer than I am, so he prefers to do most of the editing. Mind you, I'm getting pretty good. However, he's partially colorblind and tends to miss some instances of red-eye, so I do that fix.)

Photos of my art get loaded to Picasa, I edit them and load them to photobucket and blog them immediately. I do have separate photobucket albums for different kinds of art.

Sometimes I want to have an image for a non-art post, and I'll skim through my photobucket albums until I find one I want to play with, then use Picnik (which is going away!!! But I'm guessing it'll reappear pretty soon, in a different form) to play with it to make it reflect the post topic somehow.

And blogged photos of my daughter are usually from that month's picasa album, or straight from my cell phone.

None of this is a system. Such is life.

Wait! Keep the series going! (You had mentioned on another post you didn't think the interest was high since there weren't many comments). I love hearing about how other people organize their photos (or, really, any computer files). One thing I liked about how you do it (and am totally going to copy) is having an "export" folder. I never know where to put the resized/compressed copies of pictures I have (like you, for upload to flickr, etc), but now I have an easy solution.

Please keep going - I'm interested to see what the rest of the series bring!

These posts are great April. Helpful AND motivating. Thanks so much!! Off to organize!

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