As an avid traveler and photographer, I have a personal photo library of over 50,000 images. From randomly scanned prints to cell phone uploads, I’ve learned over the years that taking time to organize your photos is just as important as setting up that perfect shot. Having a plan of action and spending a few minutes to organize your images right away will save you hours of searching later! Here’s my formula for keeping your digital photos organized and just a click away:
Date and Time
Before you start snapping, make sure your camera’s date and time settings are correct. If you are using more than one camera (smart phones, too!), make sure all are set to the same day and time zone. With correct date and timestamps, you can sort photos by “date modified” and they will appear next to each other in your photo library regardless of which camera was used.
Trash Unwanted Photos
Review images as you go, and before you download anything to your computer, get rid of unwanted shots—pictures that are out of focus, extremely overexposed or underexposed, or unintentional shots of your hand or the inside of your bag.
If possible, bring a laptop to sort and store your images. It is heartbreaking to lose all of your images due to a camera malfunction, or a corrupted memory card. Uploading your shots frequently—I usually do this each night before going to bed—gives you a back-up if something happens to your equipment.
All of my images are saved by year. My recent trip to Vietnam is in my 2016 folder, where I created a Vietnam folder. Within that master folder, I created folders with date and place name: 09-10-16-Hanoi, 09-11-16-Halong Bay, 09-12-16-Da Nang, and so on. Putting the date first keeps your folders in chronological order, and the location serves as a reminder of what images can be found in that folder. Though it may seem easy to remember everything about a photo you’ve just taken, the more time that goes by, the harder it becomes to remember the details. You can organize further by creating sub-folders within your date/place folders.
Delete and Take Note
As you review your images, get rid of the out-of-focus, too dark, unflattering shots right away. Take note of where you went wrong photographically, and adjust your camera settings to achieve the shots you want. I once had my camera on “underwater” mode and had a whole day of red-tinged images; good thing I reviewed that night and changed my settings!
To Print or Not to Print?
Do you plan on printing photos for an album, posting images to social media, creating a photo book, or putting a slideshow together? As I organize my shots each day, I’ll select a few that I really like and copy them into a Favorites folder. It is a huge time-saver to have this folder of favorites ready to go when you get home. Printing, posting, or showing images to your friends is a snap when you have narrowed down hundreds (and in my case thousands!) of images into a nice digestible chunk.
If you have the time and the inclination, go a step further and enhance your images with a program like Photoshop. Get rid of red-eye, crop out that guy who stepped into your frame, straighten crooked horizons, etc. Now’s the time to make your great shots look even better!
Back. It. Up.
At some point, all hard drives will eventually fail. Computer loss, theft, natural disaster, and accidental deletion, are some of the other ways that you can lose the photos you’ve spent so long accumulating and organizing. Happily, there are many ways to back up your images—burn them to a disc, copy to an external hard drive or a thumb (flash) drive, copy to a second computer or laptop, or use a virtual cloud backup service.
Have any "must-dos" of your own when it comes to organizing your trip photos? Let us know!