Last week we started on our epic journey to get all of our photos cleaned up and organized. If you missed last week’s post, you can read it again right HERE.
Now that we have all of our photos – digital and printed – gathered together we need to come up with a plan for how we are going to organize and store them.
First things first, if you have boxes of printed photos you need to decide right off the bat if you plan to store them as prints or if you are going to digitize the photos and store them electronically.
The choice of digital or analog is up to you, there is no universal right or wrong answer.
Having the printed photographs means that you will always have copies on hand if your harddrives fail and you are probably more likely to pull out the albums once in awhile than you are to boot up a disk, but years and years of printed photos in albums take up a good deal of space.
Digitizing your images, on the other hand, will save you physical space, but if you do not have a good backup system you could loose years of family memories in the blink of an eye.
If you are one of those folks who is super paranoid about loosing your images, you can choose to keep the printed photographs and also have them digitized as an added security measure.
This week your first task is to decide if you will be going all digital or if you are going to keep both digital files and prints.
If you decide to digitize your photos, there are companies out there who specialize in this service. I have not used them, but there are Groupons pretty frequently (like this one currently running) that would let you try out a company for a lower rate before you commit to sending them all o your pictures. I would start out sending photos that you have double prints of, just in case they happen to lose the originals or go out of business overnight. Until you feel comfortable with a company don not send your family heirlooms!
You can also look into purchasing a scanner and doing the work yourself. My Mother recently did this, and I will warn you – it took her YEARS to finish scanning, tagging, and catalouging the photos from my childhood. If you decide to go this route be prepared for it to be a long process. Try to set aside a small amount of time every week or month to work on the project and know that you will not accomplish it in an afternoon!
Step Two – if you are storing printed photographs you will need to purchase some albums or scrapbooks to keep them in.
American Crafts makes some nice looking albums that are reasonably priced.
If you have only ever shot digital photographs and you have few if any prints, you don’t have to decide. You do, however need to go out and buy at least two harddrives to store your pictures on (One main harddrive and one for backup).
Next up, we are going to be designing a system for organizing our photos.
Let me put out this disclaimer first, there are roughly one million ways to organize your photos. This is just an example of how I do things. If you have a way that you like better, please feel free to share in the comments.
Printed photos can easily be organized by year or month and year in albums and labeled.
For my digital photos I have a naming system and folder structure that I use to keep me organized.
I keep all of my images on an external harddrive (which I back up to a second external harddrive). This keeps most of the space on my laptop free so that it can run programs as quickly as possible. I start by naming my harddrives MTP 001 and MTP 001 backup. When I run out of space on that drive I will name the next one MTP 002, etc. This helps me keep them in order. You could also use a new pair of harddrives each year if that works better for you and label them with the year.
On my hardrive each project or photoshoot gets it’s own folder.
I have a two digit prefix for the different types of photo shoots that I do followed by the date in the format YYMMDD. A folder name would look something like this: WD140719. This way when I sort my folders by name, the computer groups them together by type (based on the prefix) and then arranges them by name. I put the year first so that it doesn’t put all of the Januarys together, then all the Februarys, etc.
Here’s a sample of my prefixes:
AN – anniversay
ED – Editorial
EN – Engagement
FD – Food Photography
FP – Family Portraits
HS – High School Senior
MA – Maternity
NB – Newborn
SP – Sports
WD – Wedding
If you are just taking photos of your family, you may not need to use the letter prefixes. Instead I would make folders labeled: YYMM (1407) and then put sub folders inside by date or by event.
1407 (Main Folder)
< 140705 – Jake’s birthday
< 140722 – lake house
The point of devising is a system is that it needs to work the same way your brain works. If you are good with dates and want your folder system set up around dates, great. If you don’t have a mind for dates and you would rather set up folders for Events, Pets, Child #1, Child #2, etc. that’s awesome too.
All you need to do is come up with a system that is repeatable and makes sense to you. It doesn’t matter if no one else gets it so long as you do.
Those are your tasks for this week.
ONE – Decide to digitize or not. If you are digitizing research companies or scanners.
TWO – Purchase harddrives or albums and supplies.
THREE – Decide on a system (digital or otherwise) to organize your photos.