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You don’t need fancy pants software to get your photos under control.  They key is: have a system and stick to it.

Don’t be intimidated!  You can get your photos under control.

This is part 3 in a series about organizing your photos.  Miss parts 1 and 2?  Visit Part 1 – Non-Digital Prints and Part 2 – Organize as You Go.

Purge & Share

Purge again:  If you’ve done a good job purging as you go, this should be easy.  Once you load the pictures onto your hard drive and have a bigger monitor at your disposal, delete any bad photos you may have missed.

Pick some to share: Don’t wait around to create albums.  Pick some of your favorites and upload them to Facebook, flickr, or Picasa.  This is great for family and friends who live out of the area who can’t come over and look at your albums.  Remember when we took 7.5 gigs of pictures on our last vacation?  I picked my favorite 200 to share online.  Take a couple prints to your office and tack them above your desk!

Basic Organization

Folders by Date & Event: I copy all of my pictures into folders and title them like this: “Year-Month-Day Event.”  For example: “2010-01-23 Disneyland.”  Naming folders this way means they will auto-arrange in date order on your hard drive.

I’ve also started keeping a “random” folder for each month to throw random pictures I take around the house.  This month’s folder is “2011-06 June Random.”

Want to try this but you don’t know what the dates of half your pictures are?  Try right clicking on a picture or hovering over it with your mouse.  If your camera has the date set correctly, the date taken is embedded in the file on your computer.  This is separate from the date you put it on your hard drive.

Copy and Sort Pictures Regularly:  If you are coming back from a trip, do this as soon as you get home.  For everyday use, set a realistic goal like once a month or once a couple of months.

Why should you do this regularly?  Because while I was writing this post, I found a folder of unorganized pictures spanning several months that I thought I had lost.  Yup, I learned my lesson.

Set a reminder:  Do you use an email program?  Yeah, you do.  Did you know it comes with a calendar?  I’m talking Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo or even Microsoft Outlook.  Don’t use your calendar?  It doesn’t matter.  Figure out your goal and create a recurring event on your calendar.  When you create that event, set it to email you and remind you each time.

I’ll show you with Gmail, but it’s very similar with most programs:

Set how often you would like the event to repeat.  Want to organize photos monthly?  Set it for every month:

Then set a reminder so the calendar will send you an email on that day every month:

I use this technique to set reminders for things like paying bills and remembering when to get my oil changed because I’m nerdy like that.

Yes, this is a lot to think about but you can have a system and it can be very simple!  Still want more?  Stay tuned for some advanced ways to organize.

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