Organizing your pictures is like construction in many respects. How does one build a wall? Brick by brick! Simple right? However, without a carefully laid out plan all those bricks on top of each other make no sense. You need to build multiple walls that will make up the rooms and restrooms and the kitchen. Without a larger plan, all those bricks laid on top of each other will make very little practical sense. This illustration applies to organizing your pictures as well. Each of your pictures is one brick and each folder one wall. But how do the walls come together to form a room? What is the larger plan?
Once you learned how to name your folders consistently and efficiently you will have very many folders…nicely sorted and named, but very many. So, you need some grouping of these folders. You can think of categories of pictures like: church pictures, work pictures, family pictures, kids pictures. These are broad categories that would include a large number of your picture folders.
How efficient are your digital pictures folders?
So you create a folder for each category. I use capital letters for these folders…something like this: CHURCH, WORK, FAMILY. All of these folders are at the same level. So your folder structure would look something like:
My Pictures CHURCH FAMILY WORK
Then, the next step would be to move all your pictures folders into these categories. You would still have quite a few folders for each category but not as many as in the beginning. Now, let’s go one level deeper. I have found that most people use date as their criterion for grouping their pictures, so the most natural way is to create a folder for each year. What does this mean? Take one category that you created and you place all your folders taken in 2007 in a folder called 2007. Then all the pictures taken in 2006 in a folder called 2006. And you continue until all your folders belong to a “year” folder. So, your folder structure would look something like the box below.
My Pictures CHURCH 2007 2006 FAMILY 2007 2006 2005 WORK 2007 2006
You can easily see that you can keep building on this foundation. This is a strong foundation!
Essentials for organizing your digital photosOver the years I have come to rely on only a few products for managing and backing up my large media collection. These are my essential products and services I have been using for many years to keep things organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
I recommend using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC via the annual Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Lightroom has excellent photo editing capabilities. Yes, Lightroom has a steeper learning curve as you have to learn to keep your catalogs in sync with your hard drive. However, Adobe Lightroom makes most sense especially when you do lots of image editing.
If you don't like the subscription, you can get also download the last standalone Adobe Lightroom 6 for Mac or Windows (while it is still available). However, the product is no longer maintained by Adobe.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac or ACDSee Pro for Windows is my preferred solution for organizing your media on your computer. It has a very fast browser, beautiful image editing capabilities and you don't work with catalogs at all.
In addition, make sure you have an inexpensive and reliable external hard drive for backing everything up. It is absolutely essential for backing up your media regularly.
If you're looking for a reliable unlimited cloud backup service, I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup. I have used Backblaze for my online backup for more than 3 years now. All my files are safe and secure and I have never had any problems with them.