Control your photo library

Why do I want control of my photos?

The first step to feeling more in control of your photo library is to know what you have.

So says Jennifer S Wilson of PhotoCrush, the second photo organising ‘specialist’ that I have resorted to as part of my quest to get my photos in a library that pleases me because it means I’m in control; I have what I want, where I want it, when I want it and this also means that you get to see those photos that so many of you have patiently waited years to see.  My inventory of photos, and here we are simply talking digital photos, not the old school silver halide analogue photos, runs to many thousands, spread across all sorts of media.

I have listed every location that we have on which we have digital images stored, there are :

  • computers,
  • external drives
  • memory cards, SD and CF
  • DVD’s / CD’s
  • thumb or pen drives
  • cameras
  • tablets
  • phones
  • dropbox
  • flickr
  • SmugMug
  • Google Picasa (soon to become Google Photos)
  • Canon (possibly as they have a members area)

I’m also listing every photo taking device that we have in current use by us as a family and will need to look at the storage of photos on these devices.

You may have gained a sense that this is a big task. Well yes it is a big task but I have a few useful tools to help me with this first stage of the exercise. I decided to make my written record using pdfEditor software, that way I could practice a skill I use only occasionally and also build up my information file, so two practical pieces of work being done at the same time bring added time saving benefits.

Since I started I now have three closely typed sheets of A4 paper that show exactly where my digital images are today and that friend is a huge relief. Follow my journey as I proceed to step two.

In step two – All photos in one place I have to designate one location on my computer to be the central  home for all of our digital photos – that came easily, I have bought a two terabyte external hard drive to be the primary location on which my photos will be stored. The next step as part of my day two task is to create a folder here called To Sort and to begin moving photos from other locations here to consolidate. Move a batch of photos here, check for integrity and then deleting the origin files.
Have a naming convention for my folders that I use and keep on using. How to do it. Open two file browsers side by side and move your photos fro the origin to the storage space and then spot check and delete the origin files.
Remember you can use ‘Image Capture’ to move files from a device onto mac drives.
Duplicates – go slowly, use folders and critical thinking before heading to software. Centralise knowing what you have and where it should go. So remember the initial home for all of your digital photos is your ‘To Sort’ file – Happy Consolidating. (NB we get to de-duping on day 7)
It is day three and today we’ll deal with structures – start big picture, thinking about how you want your photos to be organized, and then we drill down into specifics. By focusing on function before features, you can begin to create a photo library that is easy to understand and easy to maintain.
I have to create an outline of the CURRENT structure of our photo library, including an index of our TO SORT folder that I created yesterday. Then I have to create an outline of the IDEAL structure of my photo library. These are a paper outline no actual file moves yet!
Here’s a Simple Library structure:
  • Have a basic heirarchy
  • There is a suggestion towards using dates so year/month
  • Use constant naming
  • The structure should only be as complex as is needed, no more
  • The structure should be easy to add to and remove from

A suggested format to start might be :

  • before 2008,
    • 2008 – wedding
    • 2009 – vacation
  • 2009 – 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014 – we may choose to have monthly or perhaps weekly folders, depending on the number of images we make, etc

We have bundled years and then years broken up… This allows us to divide To Sort in to pre and post 2008, we can then use metadata in LR to sort post 2008 into the folders we have now created. When time permits we delve into pre-2008 and sort these manually using such clues as are available.

From the above I need to create a step by step road map of the moves I need to make to change the current to my ideal, over time.
Tags – help to link images across time using LR. So you could tag or you could scroll through your library…
Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler – Albert Einstein

And then it stopped. Some other task assumed greater priority. This is the way of life, competing priorities, limited resources as Graham Edwards once said to me.