Organize Your Family’s Digital Photos and End Digital Dumping Forever!

Cluttered computer files lead to heartache and heartbreak when you can’t quickly find photos that you need or you realize that you’ve deleted a photo that you thought was stored elsewhere. And, if you’re like me, you’re taking more and more digital photos and sharing them more and more, too. Managing all of those digital photos takes time, but the rewards are worth it when you can easily find the photos that you need. Let’s talk about a few tips to help you get started.

Organize Your Photos

First, after you’ve taken your digital photos, download the photos immediately from your camera to your computer rather than waiting until your memory card gets full. You don’t want to run out of memory at an important event and have to delete earlier photos.

Most family photographers can follow these steps for organizing their photos:

Create folders to sort your photos into within the MyPictures folder on your computer. Minimally, create folders for each year and consider creating subfolders within each year’s folder-those subfolders can also be organized chronologically (by month) or by some other category (special events, holidays, so on). When you download your image files from your camera to your computer, sort the files into the proper folder immediately. Delete any duplicate or near-duplicate photos. Finally, give your photo files meaningful names. If you only have a few photos, simply rename them individually. If you have many photos to rename, you’ll want to batch rename files by selecting the files you wish to rename, right clicking, and choosing “Rename.” Mac OS X users will want to look for the batch renaming Automator application.

For many family photographers, the tips above will be enough to keep their photos organized at a minimum expense, but more serious family photographers may want to investigate software options to help them manage their family’s photos. Options include Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, Apple’s iPhoto, or Picasa.

Back Up Your Photos

Organizing your photos is just one important step. It’s equally important to back up your photos on CD or DVD, an external hard drive, and/or an online storage site (like Kodak, Snapfish, or Shutterfly, or photobucket). (Depending on your needs, an online storage site may also help you manage your family’s photos.) If you choose the CD or DVD or external hard drive route, do be sure to store copies away from your computer, either at a friend or family member’s home or in a safety deposit box.

Online storage can be a flexible option, but do investigate the sites’ user agreements or terms of use carefully to ensure that you choose one that meets your needs. Questions to ask include the following:

Is there a fee? How much is it? How much storage do I get? Or, how many photos can I store? Does the site offer any kind of simple photo-editing software? Does the site offer any services that would be useful to me, e.g., the ability to order print photos, large posters, gifts (mugs, t-shirts, etc.), photo books, and so on? Can I share photos with my friends and family? How easy it is to do so? Do I retain ownership of my photos?

And there you have it! Your digital photos are now not only organized but also backed up, so your family’s memories are accessible and easy to share and you have the peace of mind knowing you’ll always have your family’s history!

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