Being able to summarize and simplify a complex process is not a simple task. However, when you can explain something complex in simple terms, the result is powerful. My STORE system for organizing digital photos is the simplest way to tackle this complex task of organizing all your digital media from all these sources. This article contains a simplified summary for the “O” which stands for Organize in my STORE system for digital photo organization.
The easiest way I found to explain this part of my system, is to split it into 2 phases, or steps. The first step is organizing all your NEW photos that come from your cameras and phones. These are pictures that have never been on your computer, but have been newly taken with your camera and you need to store them in an organized way. The second step is how to organize existing unorganized photos that you already have on your main computer, other computers and external hard drives. The great thing about the STORE system, is that once you understand how to organize your new pictures, the existing unorganized pictures follow the same process, making everything as simple as possible.
Organize your new pictures
After automating your transfer process you should have your new pictures on your computer in the TRANSFER folder like this:
TRANSFER 2016-08-02 2016-08-05 2016-08-06
Organizing your new photos in five steps
Now there are five task you need to accomplish with your new pictures:
- Delete your bad pictures. Go through the pictures and delete the bad ones. Be merciless: bad exposure, repetitive poses and simply unappealing photos.
- Add keywords. Then add keywords to your new photos: where,who and what.
- Add face tags. Optionally add face tags if your software supports that.
- Rename the event folder so you add place and short description of the event.
- Move the new event folder in the MAIN library in the appropriate year folder.
Organize your existing pictures
Most people don’t start organizing correctly right away, but instead they have lots of unorganized photos on other computers and hard drives. So what do you do in this very common case?
Organizing your existing photos stored on external drives and computers
- Move all your unorganized existing pictures into one new folder. You can call that folder “UNORGANIZED” or something similar.
- When you are ready to organize some, move a few folders of unorganized photos to the TRANSFER folder and treat them as new photos.
- Go through the steps outlined above for new photos. This requires determination and perseverance and…time.
- Delete the UNORGANIZED folder when it becomes empty.
That’s it really! When you finish going through the unorganized folder and it is empty, you are done. Now you only have new pictures that come in. No more unorganized photos.
Is it really this simple?
The answer is mostly yes! The complications come in when you have more sources of unorganized photos, like multiple computers, multiple external drives and not enough space on your computer hard drive.
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.