Back when I made the switch from film photography to digital, there were several years in between where I carried only one scrappy little point and shoot camera before finally making the upgrade to a good quality DSLR in 2012. It was a late transition considering the fast moving pace of digital technology and I remember hanging up my film cameras more and more simply because it was getting more and more difficult to find film processing overseas. This was also a time that coincided with my children being little and they were growing up far too quickly. I tried very hard to keep pace with their childhood and capture as much as possible with that scrappy little compact. In the end I am left with literally thousands of low res jpegs not being anything special in terms of quality but being incredibly special personally for they contain so many precious family memories. This might not be the most perfect photographic journey that I had envisioned for my own family photo albums but it is what it is and i'll take it!
So what to do about all those jpegs? And who's got the time to even tackle such a project? Seems daunting I know but trust me, it's super worth it. I have just spent the week completely overhauling my photos from this era. It was quite the mess and something I had been putting off for a long time. At last I have made some sense of it all. For those of you in a similar situation wanting to sort out your digital life and find an easy way to archive your photos, organise and store them safely ready to make prints, galleries, albums or whatever I have outlined my process here.
- Make some time. Depending on how many photos you are dealing with, some patience is a good thing. Take it easy, you don't have to take on the entire project all at once. Break it up into stages if necessary but be sure to take note of the progress so that you can easily start up again where you left off.
- Use a photo management software program. This is essential! I use Adobe Lightroom for both my work and personal photo management and it's awesome. There are several excellent free options out there too, check out Flickr, Smug Mug or Apple Photos. Shop around for one you like best.
- Designate one centralised location for all of your photos. Get your photos off of your phone, computer, cd's, memory cards etc and get them together into one central location. Depending on what photo management program you are using this one central location could be your main computer's internal hard drive, online cloud storage or an external hard drive.
- Organise a folder structure. Using your photo management program, create one main photo library folder in your centralised location and give it a name for example "My Photos" and begin to import your photos batch by batch into a concise folder structure. Inside the main photo library folder "My Photos" create folders by the year and inside each year folder create individulal folders by event, location or a brief meaningful description pertaining to the images in there. For example your folder structure might look something like this: My Photos-2011-trip to California
- Edit. Once photos are organised into their new folder structure use your photo management program to edit images, rename files, add keywords and delete any rejects. After going through a specific folder of photos i.e. "2011-trip to California", rate them and make a selection of your favourites. Make any adjustments to your favourites at this point.
- Print and Share. After editing, create a new folder for your selection favourites. I save my "selects" in two different sizes accordingly, one size for printing and another size for sharing on social media. I keep these two folders together inside the folder with the original files. So now the example folder structure would lay out like this: My Photos-2011-trip to California (inside 'trip to California' would be all the originals plus a folder named "01_Print" and a folder named "02_Web") So anytime I want to make a printed album or share online, my edited select photos are ready to go.
- Back Up! Copy your entire main photo library onto a separate external hard drive so that you have an exact mirror copy for safe keeping. Your photo library will grow and so keep the 2nd drive up to date, backing up every now and again.
Voila! I hope that made any kind of sense at all and maybe give you some inspiration to get organised. I try to keep things as simple as possible and this is by no means the only way to do this, everyone's got a different take on it. I hope just to pass on a few ideas and links. Let me know if you have anything to add to this topic. I'd love to hear how others keep their photos in tact. Happy camping. TM x