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 Journal
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!"