How To Organize Your Photos On The Computer
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You've finally got a few minutes to sit down and order the portraits that you've been wanting to hang in the living room.  Yes it's almost May, and sure those photos were taken some time in the fall (of last year?), but you've been busy, and the task kept slipping to the bottom of your "to do" list.  But now!  Now you've got a few minutes between work and soccer practice and the task is fresh in your mind.  So you sit down to make that portrait order.  If only you could remember where those portraits are!  Where did you save them?  Was it in the document folder?  Did you name them something special?  Are they in an email somewhere?  Oh this could take a while.  And so you give up for now.  You don't have time to search now.  You'll make that order another time.  And so another day, another week, another month goes by.  

Ever experience this?  

I used to.  A lot!  When my kids were first born, I took photos of them all the time (they won't let me now).  And I'd throw the day's photos into the picture folder of my computer and maybe name a few.  Scotty 6 months.  Brady new dress.  Mike first bath.  It was so easy and fun to go back and look at those photos.  Until they started multiplying.  A lot.  And I would have to scroll forever to find that one photo.  

Add to that a new portrait business, new clients, and a gajillion more photos.  Ummm.... woah.

I learned to organize my photos in a very efficient way, which has saved me a lot of time and a lot of frustration.  Today I thought I'd share my system with you.



As my kids began to grow, and the photos began to multiply, it became impossible to keep track of all those photos in that one default folder on my Mac titled Pictures.  So I quickly learned to organize my photos into folders.  With every new event, or every outing, I create a new folder.  In this way, the photos from Scotty's first birthday aren't mixed in with Mike's first day of first grade, and those are not mixed in with the portraits I took last week of that high school senior.  Every new event gets its own folder.  Sure that's a lot of folders, but everything is in its place.



With all those folders, it would still be difficult to scroll through endless rows to find "Kids First Day of School".  Which first day of school?  Oh good grief!  So I began organizing by time.  I start big, with the year.  Then I organize by Month.  And within each month's folder, I organize my events.  This way if I want to find that photo of Scotty's first day of Kindergarten, I know to look in the September folder of the 2009 folder.  It's amazing how much time that saves.  Within each month I keep the folders titled by events, but I know that the Mother's Day photos we took will be in the May folder, and that saves me so much time.  Organize by year, then month.



This is crucial to me.  If within each year's folder I have 12 folders labeled January, February, March, and so on, then the first folder in that year's folder will be Aprl, then August.  Umm... no way.  I want to open my 2016 folder and see January first.  But how?  I use numbers.  Rather than call January by its name alone, I always label my January folder 01Jan.  The zero is important too, since there are 12 months and I don't want October (10) coming before February (2).  By making January 01Jan, and February 02Feb, and so on, each month is in the proper order and I still can see the abbreviation which my brain needs to see.  Simple, but extremely effective.



When it comes to my clients, I have my own system.  Yes, I use the yearly and monthly folders, but I know that for every client, there will be a folder with their name, and then a new folder after I post edit their images.  I title it "Name Proofs".  This way both folders are side by side in my month folder.  I use it every time and it works for me.  Create systems within your folders that work for you.  Train your mind to find folders by using lables you easily recognize.  Don't be vague or cryptic with labelling your folders.  Save time.  Make it simple, repetitive and easy to find.


It might take some time to go back into your computer and organize your photos in this way, but it will be so worth it later on.  And it will be easy to save your photos as you take them in the future.  Which will make finding and ordering those portraits a piece of cake, even with only five minutes to spare.  


I hope this helped you.  Now go get organized!


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