Digital Photography is a great thing. It makes us shoot away, not thinking and worrying too much, just snapping and enjoying this incredible hobby or profession. But there is a little downside. How to handle all these images? Many of us are struggling with this part of photography and when you’ve got down the road for a while with now good idea how to do organize your images, it becomes more and more frightening to start doing it properly and organizing the archive. Here some tips that might help getting some structure into the huge amount of images we are taking and taking away the fear of doing it.
Reflect & Anticipate. Before you even start taking images think of how you want to find them back and/or think of how you usually find things back. Everybody has got his/her own way of thinking and remembering, the way we go through the drawers of our brain for all sorts of things. Some have a photographic memory others are good with numbers. There are plenty of different ways of thinking. Reflect and identify your way of thinking and remembering. You might like to store the images chronologically by making folders like “day 1 of photo safari”, “day 2 of photo safari” or you rather like to make folders per subject like “lion”, “leopard”, “cheetah” and “landscape”. Only you know what suits you best and fits your thinking patterns. Reflect on that and make an important first step to organize your images. Then anticipate. When you are for example very lucky and on a game drive where you see five different leopards, you want to be able to know afterwards which images where of which leopard. Take an image of the sky or another landmark that does not fit into the sequence of the leopard shots before you start photographing the next leopard. It will tell you later that this was the other leopard, leopard number two and you can put him in his dedicated folder. It works also very well when photographing for example dog shows or horse sports events. It will save you lots of time and nerves when going later through your images to find the one your friend is asking for.
Structure the image upload to your computer. When the moment comes to upload your images to your computer you know already how you want the images to be organized, because you did the reflection and the anticipation beforehand. Now comes again a bit anticipation. Before you start uploading your photos, make the image folders on the computer first. That will prevent the leopard images going automatically into the big folder of all holiday photos, but directly to where you want them. When you have a folder “photo safari”, make a subfolder “leopards day 1” or only a subfolder “day 1”, whatever suits you best to have the structure to find them back later set.
Upload and backup. Your images are on your computer, nicely organized and you can find everything easily when you need it. Now comes the next and final step, the backup. The general rule is that you should have 2 backups and one backup off site. The backups are usually done on an external hard drive, to prevent image loss due to computer problems or theft. Create the same folder structure you use on your computer on the backup hard disks, because your thinking stays the same and you want to find things back. The off site backup can also be a hard drive with your images that you store in a safety deposit box at your local bank. An alternative is to store your images off site is the cloud, but when you shoot big files that will only apply to your very best images. Otherwise it will take forever to load them to the cloud and take a lot of space.
Now you are all set and organized. No worries anymore and free brain space to think about nice photography opportunities instead of how to organize and find your photos again.
Easy software for organizing images is Aperture. I don’t know how it works with Lightroom, but its also used by many people.
Enjoy a photo database without worries and keep snapping away!