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How to organize your digital photos with image of camera and computer.

It is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the digital photos we take. Having a plan to organize the photos before you can get them printed is essential to keep your sanity and your hard drive clutter free. I am going to show you an easy system to organize your digital photos.

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Choose Where to Organize your Digital Photos

Where you put your digital photos is just as important as how you organize your photos. You probably take more photos than you think you do because we have a camera with us all the time now that our phones can take awesome pictures. Hard drives on computers are getting bigger and bigger but so are the operating systems and software products we use. I always recommend photographers to use a dedicated external hard drive to store images. Hard drives are becoming cheaper by the year so you will only need to make a small investment. Here is the external drive that I use. It is compact so I can take it anywhere with my laptop.

File Structure to Organize your Digital Photos

Once you have decided where to put your digital photos you will want to have a clearly defined file structure for your photos.

Image of photo directory structure

Above you will see an image with the exact file structure I use.  I start with a year folder on the hard drive. Then I create a folder for each month of the year. **Hint: Place numbers starting with 01 to make your system list the months in chronological order. If you just use the month name they will be listed alphabetically and not chronologically. This just keeps it neat and easy to read. 

Inside each of these month folders is where I will put the photos. To keep from just having a folder full of photos I will create a new folder with the day and event description for the photos taken on a specific day. For instance any photos taken on the fourth of July will go into the July folder in another folder labeled 04 – 4th Picnic. This makes it easy to find photos taken on a certain day and or event. 

How Often Should you Organize your Photos

So the easy answer to this would be every day but in reality we don’t have time every day to do this task.  My recommendation is to set aside time each week to download and cull your images.  And this includes your phone images!  Taking the time to do this each week will keep you from getting overwhelmed and frustrated.  It also allows you to go through your photos, decide which are keepers and which you want to spend time editing and printing before forgetting about it.  

Back Up Your Photos!

The last and one of the most crucial steps to organizing your photos is to back them up.  You might be wondering why you would need to do this if you have everything on an external hard drive.  Well the answer is because hard drives fail.  It sucks but it happens.  The easiest solution is to use a cloud based software system.  There are many options out there.  The simplest is to use Google, iCloud, or Dropbox.  There are also dedicated cloud back-up services out there like Carbonite.  Here is a good round-up article of the services out there to choose from.  

So there it is. Have a different way you organize your photos? Let me know in the comments!

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