When you are into photography you are facing two things: taking pictures and pictures. Taking pictures can be very easy – just push the button! Or it can be really complicated – learn about exposure, light and composition to reveal your inner artist. It can be very cheap or quite expensive. It can take long time or it can be really quick. Taking pictures can be very different. But the result is always the same – the pictures. Hundreds and thousands of pictures which add up very quickly if you take them digitally. (And even if you do not take them digitally they also add up really quickly!)
Digital photography became a default way parents are taking pictures – that is why I will only discuss the organization of digital files on your computer. And the good news that digital files are much easier to organize even if you are facing hundreds of thousands of pictures, because they are already organized a little bit by your cameras through files naming. So they usually are organized in several clear sequences. However it is not good enough: you still will not be able to find anything in these pile of files and the numeration will also start from the very beginning from time to time and you will end up having multiple files with the same names. And the danger is that you can replace them by mistake with your most recent file having the same name.
There are some very organized parents out there, but usually by the time of your child's second birthday you already own your little personal photo chaos. And usually only by that time you finally can start thinking about such sophisticated things as organizing and sorting your pictures, making albums, maybe putting some prints on the wall...
The usual mistake at this point is that parents (normally one of them) try to find time when they could sit down (alone!) and look through all the pictures they took in the last two, five or ten years. But the truth is that you would need not a couple of hours, but rather days or weeks. And you would absolutely hate this experience and probably would never take pictures again developing some kind of photo phobia. Luckily this photo-organizing-moment almost never comes. And your chaos evolves! And what should you do?
Well the answer is really not a piece of wisdom and it IS quite obvious: instead of trying to organize everything you have captured during the past few years or decades you should start organizing pictures you took today. Yes, your photo chaos will not suddenly disappear, but if from now on you will organize all the pictures that you take, someday the order will take over! You will just change the way you treat your pictures and it will become a part of your photography routine.
Organizing: The First Steps
There are many systems how you can organise your pictures, there are different ways and different software. But there is nothing better than a simple tree of folders on your computer.
I do organize my pictures on several levels, but there is one basic system everything starts with (and you should do the same!) - it is chronological organization. I organize all pictures we have in a YEAR – MONTH – DAY way. And I put there not only the pictures I took, but all the pictures of our family which were take by my husband, my sons, relatives, friends etc. So I have absolutely all pictures organized within one system. And this is really great!
It does not matter how your photo chaos looks like right now, today you should create a folder on your computer and name it some thing like “our family photos”, within you make a folder “2017”, within you make a folder “2017-05” and within you make a folder “2017-05-19 and description (for example: kids at home)” and them you paste the pictures you took today to this folder. And this is the beginning of a new life!
So from now on every time you copy your pictures to your computer you will need extra 15 seconds to go to your “our family photos/2017/2017-05/” create a new folder “2017-05-xyz” and paste the pictures there. And you do the same for every year and every month.
In this way you can easily find pictures you need: your kids birthday pictures, pictures from vacations, family holidays ect.
This chronological organisation will help you to sort your pictures better and to create other systems of organization more easily. I will discuss this in a different post.
I would be happy to learn how you organize your pictures and how you deal with the photo chaos. You can ask me questions in the comments and I would be happy to answer!
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