How to Better Organize your Pictures

Info media photography : Ever had that one picture in mind, and you know it’s on your computer somewhere, but you just can’t find it? Well, it isn’t just your desk that gets a little messy. Sometimes we just dump all our pictures into the “My Pictures” folder because it’s easy, but it ends up being a nightmare to find your files later. If you are organized, that’s great! I’m sure you have a method that works for you. But if you’ve never thought about file organization, or maybe you’re just not happy with how long it takes you to find your pictures, then here are some different ways you can organize your pictures to be able to easily retrieve them later.
(As a side note: The best way to find your pictures is to tag them with metadata and keywords. But for many of us, that is just too much work. So in this post, we’re going to look at different ways for you to find your pictures faster when you just go look for them, instead of typing in a search.)
For the hobbyist…
If you just love taking pictures, but you don’t need to worry about clients asking for their pictures down the road, then you just need something simple. If you shoot things that you see every day, you can organize your folder by season. You remember you took cool pictures of flowers this spring? Look in the your Spring 2011 folder. Separating your pictures into larger chunks will help keep everything loose and accessible while still narrowing your search results.

Image by NOM Creative
For the shutterbug…
The shutterbug is the person that loves capturing memories. You might not pull out your camera for the birds or flowers, but everyone knows you’ll be the one with the camera at the next family reunion or summer BBQ. One of the best ways for the shutterbug to keep organized is make each place it’s own folder. Was your trip to California two years ago or three? When you divide them into events, it doesn’t matter when they happened. As long as you remember where the picture was, you’ll be able to find that beach sunset really quickly. Then you’ll have a folder for your Canada trip, your brother’s house, your pictures from the football games… etc.

Image by NOM Creative
For the Semi-Pro…
If you make money with your photography, then it is absolutely imperative that you stay organized. The first step would be to divide up your folders into category (senior pictures, portraiture, event photography, landscapes, etc.) The next step would be to label each client folder very specifically. For example, Bob Smith wants decides that he wants to get some prints of a different pose from his senior picture session after all. Then in your pictures folder, find Senior Portraits. Then you can easily find the folder with his pictures from earlier this summer because they are in “B_Smith July 2011″. This will save you a lot of time and hassle by staying organized instead of dumping all your pictures into a single folder.

I go one step further to stay organized once I’ve found the clients folder. Let’s say it was a senior picture session. This again get divided into the studio shots and the outside shots. If you don’t use Adobe Bridge or Lightroom, then you can make another folder to put the ones that are good enough to show proofs. (If you use either of those programs, tagging your pictures with either star ratings or a color code that makes sense to you is very easy, and will save having to make the extra folders.)
Let’s look at what can happen if you think staying organized isn’t worth the extra effort. You take maybe 2oo pictures every time someone want’s a portrait. You do most of your pictures in studio, and only do location shots every once in a while. If you only get 3 people each week, and only do this for 2 months this summer, that’s still almost 5,000 pictures! (Chances are, you will have much more than that.) If you just dump them in a single folder, and someone asks to see an example of your location shoots, then you end up having a situation that will take several minutes to find an example for them, instead of several seconds.

This folder has over 2500 pictures in it. How long would it take you to find the outdoor poses by the large tree?
The important thing to remember is that staying organized is important, but the best organization method is whatever works best for you.

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