Technology has made it easier than ever to take snapshots – we’re all walking around with a mini digital camera in our pocket at practically all times, thanks to today’s phones. Unfortunately, this also means that we can easily click it and forget it, never to look back on them again. Even if we do manage to print copies of our pictures unless we’re on top of organizing photos they can end up in a shoebox in the attic, lost to the endless march of time.
When those priceless memories are scattered every which way – on a smartphone or a laptop, on memory cards and flash drives, on multiple photo sharing websites, or stuck in shoeboxes in the closet – the joy of photography and the memories you’ve captured can become an overwhelming burden. But, it doesn’t have to be! Here are some common mistakes people make when organizing photos, and how to overcome them.
Top Mistakes When Organizing Photos
Mistake #1: Keeping every photo
While it might have made sense back in the days of printed photos to keep duplicate or even triplicate copies to share with friends and family, today’s technology means you can digitize and file these treasured keepsakes. Go ahead and scan a high quality version of your favourite snaps, and toss the additional copies.
With digital photos, you probably took more than one pic to ensure you got the shot but that means you’re wasting precious digital memory keeping multiple photos that are basically the same and only slightly different. In this case, pick your favourite one (or two) versions and delete the rest.
Mistake #2: Not preserving the story behind the photo
Another common mistake people make when organizing photos is that they don’t preserve the story behind the photo. Whether your photos are printed or digital, it’s important to write down the who, what, where, when, and why of a photo so that you can share or reminisce about the memory down the line. You can do this by creating hard copy or digital scrapbooks, highlighting special events, or, simply a year in retrospect. And if photobooks are your thing, they make wonderful, special gifts.
Mistake #3: You don’t have a digital photo hub
If you want to keep your photos organized, you need a digital photo hub – or DPH. A digital photo hub provides one central place for all your photos, even if you aren’t ready to organize them quite yet. If you have digital photos scattered across multiple devices such as computers, smartphones, memory cards, and flash drives, a DPH brings them all together.
A digital photo hub might be your computer (so long as you have ample storage), an external hard drive, or a secure digital platform. The point is to keep everything in one spot, so that you know exactly where to find a photo at any time. Every photo you take goes into your DPH, and every photo you share will come out of there.
Mistake #4: Not renaming photo files
You might think this mistake is specific to digital photos, but even if you’re scanning printed photos, it still applies. Not renaming your digital photo files makes it absolute chaos to determine what a photo is without opening the file. There’s no way you’ll ever remember what photo img00345 is. Instead, when you’re doing your monthly photo sort and backup, take the time to rename the photos you plan on keeping. Same goes for when you’re scanning photos into your system. Rename them as you add them so that you can easily identify or search for them later.
Mistake #5: You’re not transferring photos regularly
Making the time for transferring and organizing photos on a regular basis will help keep things from getting overwhelming. This can be as little as 15 minutes at the end of the week, an hour once a month, or a weekend project every quarter. No matter how you decide to tackle the task, it’s important to stay on top of it. Don’t just dump your photos into your DPH, if you can help it. Take the time to rename them, add any details, delete duplicates and bad shots, etc. As an added bonus, you’ll be clearing up room on your device to take more special photos!
Mistake 6: Not having a backup strategy
If you’ve taken the time to go through and organize your photos, you want to make sure you have a proper backup plan in place. Photographers recommend what is known as the 3-2-1 backup strategy. A 3-2-1 backup strategy means that you have a total of three copies of your photos – two of which are local (at home or in your office) but on different devices, and one copy that is kept off site. The three copies consist of your DPH plus two more copies. This might mean you have complete copies of your DPH stored on your computer and an external hard drive (at home or stored elsewhere), plus a cloud backup. This ensures that should one storage method become compromised (your drive fails or your neighbourhood is flooded) that your photos are preserved.