Take Time to Organize

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but there’s one thing I do every year at this time. So if someone asks what my resolution is, I always say, “I’m going to get organized.” For me that means every January I go through my images from the past year and pick out my favorites.

One of the few downsides to digital photography is that we shoot far more photos than ever before. That’s great as a learning process, and to make sure we get good pictures, but the downside is having lots and lots of photos. And that means we need to take more time to go through them, sorting the good from the bad and backing them up. Here’s how I manage that process:

First, I download my pictures as soon as possible. End of the same day if I can, into a folder whose name is the date they were shot (for instance, January 11, 2012 would be 20120111, so the year always comes first). During that download I have the software managing the download re-name the files with that date, plus a bit more information. One of the photos from a recent night shoot in Boston (you can see the photos at www.Facebook.com/KCphotographer, in the Current Work album) has the filename 20120107_Boston_037. This makes it easy for me to know where and when a photo was shot.

Next, I copy those folders to two hard drives. One for long-term backup (that gets rotated off-site), one to a server in my office that I can access immediately. And every so often when I have time I go through the most recent photos, pick my favorites, and copy them to a “Best of” folder for that year.

And that brings me back to January. That’s when I go through the “Best of” folder for the previous year and cull it. I’m always a better judge of my pictures after some time has passed. So come January I re-visit that collection and narrow it down to those photos that really belong there. Then that year’s “Best of” folder gets burned to DVD and goes into my safe-deposit box. This year that was 2 DVDs, which is far easier to manage than all the DVDs that have everything I shot over the year. They can stay on a shelf at home. If they’re lost, but the “Best of” collection is safe, I’m happy.

So if I have a New Year’s resolution each year, it’s to stay organized, stay on top of all the photos I shoot, and make sure that the best of those are stored for the future. And that’s a worthwhile resolution for every photographer to have.