With an estimated 375 billion photos taken each year, there’s no wonder we’re feeling overwhelmed! Even if they’re just sitting on our computer’s hard drive – or on our camera’s DS card – these digital memories still take up psychic and emotional space. If we don’t figure out an effective way to process, organize, and store these photos, they may as well not exist. Here are a dozen ways to organize your photos so you can enjoy and share them:
- Don’t be afraid to hit the “delete” button. Most of us grew up in the days of actual 35mm film cameras, where a roll of film was a precious thing and not to be wasted. As a result, we’re reluctant to delete photos from our cameras or hard drives, or to toss overexposed or blurry – or just plain unflattering! – prints. It’s time to get comfortable deleting these excess photos. A good rule of thumb is to delete at least a quarter of the photos you take right from your camera.
- Figure out your goal. Do you want photos to enjoy now, or for posterity? Do you want to capture everyday life or just special occasions? How do you imagine using and accessing these photos in the future? All these answers will drive what you photograph, how many photos you take, and how you will want to organize them.
- Have a process. Schedule a regular time to download your photos from your camera to your computer – once a week is great if you’re a constant photo-taker; once a month is fine if you’re less of a shutterbug.
- Back them up! Just as it’s critical to back up all the data on your hard drive, you also want to make it a habit to back up your photos. Uploading them to a photo developing site is sufficient, if the site will store them indefinitely for you (some delete unviewed photos after a few months).
- Create a filing process that works. Many people become paralyzed with the digital photo filing process because they aim for perfection rather than a usable system. Sure, it would be wonderful to label each image with a descriptive title, but I’ve found that’s rarely necessary. Instead, I create a file folder for each month of the year and copy my pictures directly to that folder. Then at the end of the year, I have a folder that includes each month. I typically can remember within a month or two when an event took place, so it’s easy to locate the photos I want.
- If you have more time, use tags. Want a more extensive organizational system? Then use a photo management software program like iPhoto (comes installed on Macs), Picasa (a free web-based program), or Photoshop Elements (a purchased program, but very robust). You can add tags for people, events, or anything else you’d like.
- Don’t forget to print! Online photo processors like Shutterfly.com, Kodak.com, and Ofoto.com make it easy to print photos, create photo books and gift items, and more. Printing photos allows you to truly interact with them and enjoy them. And at only a few pennies a print, you can make copies for friends and family.
- Store them safely. When your prints come, sort through and toss the yucky ones. Hand off the duplicates to friends, and then take the best and put them away in a photo album (NOT the magnetic kind – they’ll damage your photos!). The easiest way is to dedicate a single photo album to a single year.
- Use creative ways to display your favorites. Photo canvases, digital frames, photo collages, screensavers, scrapbooks, photo books and gift items are all fun ways to put your favorite photos on display. Think beyond the photo album!
The thing to remember is that photos are a tool. They are not your memories, they are not your master, and they are not real life. Don’t become so obsessed with organizing, labeling, and sorting your photos that you forget to live!
12 Photo-Sharing Sites and Apps:
- Facebook.com. A free way to share photos with friends and family.
- Flickr.com. Another free photo- and video-sharing website.
- Shutterfly.com. The leader in online photo processing. You can create a blog-like “share” site and allow others to upload their own photos.
- Photoshop Elements. The program of choice for scrapbookers to edit photos – take out red eyes, eliminate old boyfriends, correct over- or under-exposure, etc.
- Picasa.com. A free online photo editing and storage tool.
- Instagram. A great free iPhone app to take photos and add filters for different looks.
- Hipstamatic. A paid iPhone app that also allows different “lenses” for different effects.
- Photoshop Express. A Free iPhone app for simple image editing.
- Diptic. A paid iPhone app that allows you to splice together two or three images in a single collage.
- BigHugeLabs.com. A fun online site that enables the creation of photo mosaics and other photographic creations.
- Twitpic.com. Post videos and photos to your Twitter stream with this free share site.
- GIMP.org. A free image manipulation (in English, that’s photo editing) software.
About the author: Lain Ehmann is the author of several books on family memory-keeping and scrapbooking. Through her online videos, classes, and blog, she inspires others to create – and keep – their memories.
Learn more at http://www.layoutaday.com.
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