Being able to find your specific digital photos when you need them is the “make it or break it” test of any digital media organization system. Retrieving your photos is one of main goals of organizing your photos, and this is where your digital photo organization system. If we have done things the right way, we are now coming to reap the benefits of all of our efforts done for organizing our digital media collection. All those folders, keywords, face tags and geo-tags are finally coming in very handy. Read on to see how.
Can You Find Digital Photos?
Where are those photos from our camping trip from Yosemite last year?
Just find your photos and videos when you need them. Sounds simple right? It should be!
Because we are now talking about retrieving your photos, or simply put…finding your photos when you need them.
Well, let’s see if we can find them.
You probably know by now that without carefully doing all the steps before (Shoot, Transfer and Organize), finding specific photos becomes very difficult if not impossible the more photos you have.
Today we will explore the two tools we have at our disposal: folders and image metadata.
Find Digital Photos by Visually Scanning Folders
No matter how trivial and old school this appears, visually scanning your photo folders is by far the most powerful and simplest way to locate a particular set of photos you’re looking for.
Having your photo folders organized by years, and the event folders sorted automatically by date, will make it easy for you to quickly scan through a particular year folder and find the photos when you know the year.
In my experience most people look for photos something like this: “It was earlier this year when we went to the zoo and….”. So, you open MAIN/2016 and you will see all your events for that year. And you should have the word “zoo” in your particular folder name from that event. So you should be able to locate it within a minute.
Now, if you use Picasa, you could just type the word “zoo” in the Search bar and all the folders with the word “zoo” in them will show up.
An Explanation of Photo Metadata
The next common case is when you need more refined searching because you’re looking for a particular kind of photo. Whether you’re looking for particular people in the picture, specific features of the photo (i.e. red dress, sunset, etc) or even a specific location, they all need one thing: photo metadata.
Image metadata is data about the photo. The really cool thing is that this data is saved inside the image file in a special place called the header. Image metadata is created by your camera and yourself and it is embedded in the image files, thus making it portable. Once created, image metadata can be read by most image management software.
- Keywords are also a great help when it comes to searching a large “pile” of digital photos. A carefully constructed vocabulary consisting of efficient keywords is a great ally.
- Face tags are somewhat new on the scene of metadata, face tags are very helpful when searching for pictures of a particular person.
- Geo tags is another aid for you when you want to search by is geographic location. If your camera (like most cell phones today) has a GPS sensor built in, then it can automatically insert GPS coordinates in your image files, making it very easy for software to display them on the map or simply help you search for a particular location.
Find Digital Photos Using Metadata
There are essentially three kinds of metadata that are very useful during searching: keywords, face tags and geo-tags. However, using efficient keywords can replace face and geo tags as well as long as you don’t want to search by an actual face or search on a map for your photos.
The most important is keywords because you can replace face tags and geo tags with simple keywords. Normally I add keywords describing the people in the pictures as well, in addition to keywords describing the place. So, I rarely use face tags and geo-tags unless they are added automatically by my software.
For example: I have some pictures of our recent family trip to Yosemite. When I have transferred these pictures, I have added keywords to them like this: california, yosemite, activities, hiking, family, johnny, sunset.
Now, if I am searching for a photo of my son Johnny in Yosemite National Park at sunset, then all I have to do is to type these three keywords in the search bar in Picasa, Lightroom or Photos…and there it is.
Though this simple example you notice very quickly that your ability to find specific pictures, really depends on how careful you were in adding metadata, in particular keywords.
Can You Find Your Photos When You Need Them?
I believe this is one of the most important questions to answer concerning your system of organizing your digital media. Can you find what you need when you need to? Can you find those great pictures for printing that photo book about your recent camping trip? Or that trip to Europe?
The answer here is doesn’t really have to do with how fast can you find them, but rather do you have your consistent approach that will ensure you find your pictures in a reasonable time? Or will you end up being frustrated and not be able to find what you’re looking for?
Essentials for organizing your digital photosHere are the essential products and services I have come to rely on for many years to keep my media collection organized and safe. Even though these are affiliate links, I wholeheartedly recommend them.
Excellent Lightroom and Picasa alternative. If you're looking for a cheaper and simpler photo manager then ACDSee Photo Studio for Mac (60% off until October 7, 2020) 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.
If you do a lot of image editing like I do, 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. But if do image editing, Adobe Lightroom is my favorite.
I recommend Backblaze Cloud Backup for affordable & reliable unlimited cloud backup. I have been using Backblaze for backing up all pictures & videos for more than 4 years now. All my invaluable digital memories are safe and secure.
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.