If you have folders and folders full of photos, you need to organize them to have immediate access to all your favorite pictures by knowing exactly where they are. So, we have put together some detailed instructions on how to organize photos before it’s too late! Even if you have 30 years of photos, you can still organize them to make your life easier.
Organizing photos is easy. It’s also incredibly important, and this is doubly true for professional photographers who need to know where all their pictures are at all times. You can never start too late, and it’s never too early to start labeling, organizing, and putting your pictures in place.
How Do I Start Organizing My Photos?
The first step to organizing your photos is figuring out how you want them organized. You need to make a plan for yourself. For example, where will you be accessing your photographs most often? Are you going to be using Google Drive, your laptop, or just your phone?
If you have thousands of pictures, it’s probably going to be easier to organize them on your laptop and then sync them to your phone using a sharing service like OneDrive, or by backing them all up on a hard drive or SD cards that you can easily plug into any device. Start on the laptop, make sure that you backup your photos, then you can transfer them at any time to any device.
It’s also important to have a goal. How do you want your photos organized? How complicated do you want the organization to be? Do you just want photos organized by the date that they were taken, or do you want to add lots of metadata? Like who’s in the pictures, where the pictures were taken, what job they were a part of, or what vacation they come from. There are a thousand ways to do this, and you need to choose which way is right for you.
Don’t Be Afraid To Delete
Once you get yourself motivated and sit down to organize your photo collection, we recommend that you have an open mind to deletion. If you look at a picture and it has no meaning or value, just delete it. You don’t need 2000 photos that you’re never going to look at. Screenshots, memes, and blurry pictures of trees can probably all go in the garbage bin. So can duplicates. If you have 18 photos of yourself trying to strike a pose, choose the best one and delete the rest.
Once you start deleting, it would be a lot easier to whittle down your photo collection to something manageable, in which every single picture means something to you.
Transfer All Your Pictures To A Single Spot
If your photo collection is jumbled in different folders, bring all your pictures to one place. Pile them up in a single spot to make them easier to organize and to make them easier to find later. It’s like keeping all your kitchen supplies in the kitchen, it just makes sense.
If you don’t have enough room on your computer to hold all your photographs, siphon them into a solid state drive. You can get solid drives of up to 2 terabytes and more, which should be enough to hold even the busiest photographer’s collection.
If you’re taking pictures from your phone, your laptop, or even other hard drives, be sure to label where they’re coming from as they are being transferred to the solid state drive. This will make it easier once you start going through all the pictures.
Name Your Photos Coherently
As annoying as it is, you should name every single photograph you want to keep. Your pictures will probably be named in the system as something impossible to remember, with a few letters and a whole lot of numbers.
See what the picture is, decide what you want to name it (preferably something meaningful that you will recognize as soon as you see it), and then you can begin organizing your photographs into categories.
You should tag all your pictures using metadata. This is also a long and tedious process, but it will pay off later when you’re trying to find a specific photograph.
But what is metadata and how do you use it? Metadata is information that will help you recall a picture or a group of pictures instantaneously. For example, you can add a tag like “Fiji” to all your favorite photographs from your trip to Fiji. Then, when you want to find the Fiji photos, you simply need to type in “Fiji” and you can find all your pictures right away.
This works with everything, from people, events, places, and so on. Always make sure that you tag people who are in the photographs. If you ever want to find all the pics on your computer of Jennifer, simply type her name in, and every picture that you have of her will come up, assuming you tagged them properly.
Metadata is wildly important. It’s a big job if you have multiple years of untitled photos, but it will be worth it down the line.
How To Organize Photos Into Folders
Each category should have its own folder. How you organize your photographs is completely up to you, but one of the most popular methods is going by year. To complete this method, you’ll need to break up all your photographs into folders, with each folder being a specific year. This will make it so much easier to start organizing in detail.
Once you have your pictures organized by year, you can have folders within the folders organizing pictures by month and special events.
For example, in the December folder, you can have a separate folder titled “Christmas Holiday.” If you want to see all the pictures from Christmas 1999, simply go to the 1999 folder, find December, and then find Christmas. If you have metadata, you can even just type in “Christmas 1999” and all those photos will come up.
Keep in mind that how you organize your photos is up to you. If you’re a pro photographer, you’ll probably want to keep your personal photos and work photos separate.
Try having a work folder and a personal folder. You can break down work pictures by date, job, and client. Then you can do whatever you want with your personal pics. You can even have a selfie folder for all your favorite candid shots of yourself.
Keep On Top Of It
It’s easy to sit down once and organize all your photographs. It’s harder to keep a maintenance schedule. However, having a schedule or a certain time of the month when you sit down and make sure all your photos are organized properly is a great idea and will save you time later.
Once you have all your pictures organized, you don’t want things to get messy again. Choose a specific time once a month and sit down to make sure all your pictures are organized and whatever metadata needs to be added gets added. You’ll thank yourself later.
Back Your Pictures Up
Now that you have all your photos organized, it’s time to make sure your photos don’t get lost. You want to have all your pictures backed up. If all your photographs are on your computer, copy them to an external device or a cloud storage system – or better yet, copy them to both. Imagine spending hours organizing your pictures just to have your computer break and all your photographs lost forever.
It’s also important that when you back your pictures up, they remain organized. Sometimes, especially when using a cloud storage system, pictures can become jumbled. Spend the extra bit of time to go through your uploads and make sure everything is just as properly organized as it is on your computer.
This will make it a lot easier when you’re trying to show off your photographs to friends while on the go or trying to upload something to social media. Knowing where all your pictures are on all your devices saves an infinite amount of time.
Organizing photos is easy. Make sure you add metadata to help you find the photographs by typing in keywords, your pictures are stored in coherent files that make sense, and that you have your pictures backed up onto a drive, an SD card, or a cloud storage system.
Also, be sure that the photographs you have backed up are just as well organized as the ones on your computer and your phone.
And speaking of the phone, a great pro tip is to mark all of your favorite photographs. When you’re scrolling through your pictures and you see something you love, just click the favorite button. Before you know it, you will have an entire folder dedicated to all the pictures you love the most.