With every complex project planning is essential to success. Organizing your pictures is a complex process, especially if there are lots of pictures and the current structure is chaotic. Therefore a good plan is essential to a good outcome when you embark on starting to organize your pictures. The first step in putting together a great plan is to understand your hardware components and their current purposes. Next you need to assess if some of your hardware devices need to be re-purposed. Read on to find out some easy questions to ask for determining where to start.
A great plan starts with some goals
During the beginning of my online course I pursue three goals with my students. Before we go anywhere further with organizing our pictures, we start with these three goals that have to do mainly with my students’ hardware devices.
Firstly, you must identify which hardware device servers as your main photo storage area.
Most people that take my course have pictures scattered over multiple devices. So, the first exercise I have my students do is to look at their devices and identify the one device where they want to store all their pictures.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t have pictures on any other device, but rather you need one place that you can call the “gold” copy, meaning that all the pictures stored on any other device are copies of pictures from the “master” storage area.
Identifying your “master” storage area for your digital photos is a must first step for a great photo organization system.
Secondly, you must identify a backup device that will backup your “gold” or “master” storage area.
Most likely it is an external drive or maybe another computer. This device will contain an exact copy of your “master” area. For most of the people in my course, this step is pretty easy to do.
Thirdly, you need a plan for your new pictures
You need to ensure that any new pictures will end up in the “master” storage area in the appropriate place so that you do not create duplicates everywhere. This is where all my students need help, so we spend quite a bit of time during the course to get this right. Everyone’s setup is different, so the details are slightly different for everyone.
However, the goal here is the same for everyone: we need a way to make sure our “master” storage area contains all our pictures and does not contain any duplicates.
Identify primary hardware devices
Your primary hardware devices are your photo sources, your main photo storage area and your photo backup area. They are usually easy to identify but sometimes you have to think a while to figure them out.
- Your photo sources. This would be your camera, your phone, your scanner or your tablet.
- Your main storage area. This is where you store all your pictures.your photo storage repository. It can be your laptop your desktop or an external drive. You also need to get more specific as to what drive on your computer if you have multiple.
- Your backup area. Most likely this is an external drive, but it can also be an internal drive. Thee main idea here is to find one device that will act as your backup. If I were to ask you where do you backup your pictures you should be able to say it right away.
Identify secondary hardware devices
Your secondary devices can be photo sources and photo display devices. The main difference between your primary and secondary devices is that your primary devices hold the “gold” copy of your pictures or the originals. Your secondary hardware devices should only hold copies of your originals. In other words, your secondary devices should not contain any original photos not found on the “gold” primary photo storage area.
Identify your secondary devices
- Other devices where you store pictures. Maybe a laptop, or two laptops, a tablet where you have some pictures, a mobile phone, etc. These are devices that you sometimes use to store pictures.
- A portable device that you take with you when you travel and use it to store pictures you take when you travel. This could be a laptop, tablet or a netbook.
- A portable backup device for backing up your pictures when you travel.
Questions that will help you identify your hardware components
- How many computers do you have?
- What are their purposes?
- Do you store pictures on them?
- Which devices have pictures that are not on any other device?
- How many hard drives do you have in each computer?
- What are their sizes and how much free space do you have?
- How many external drives do you have, how much space total and how much free space do you have?
- How many mobile devices do you have?
- What are their purposes?
- Do you store pictures on them? Do you take pictures with them?
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.