Organizing Digital Photos

One of the biggest benefits of digital photography is the ability to take lots (thousands) of photos for essentially no money beyond the original purchase of the camera or phone. But while this is great, it can also be a pain to organize and back up those photos in a way that makes them easy to find. I have a pretty easy but efficient system for organizing and backing up my photos, so I thought I’d share how I do it.

Uploading the Photos.

Of course, before you can sort, organize, and back up your photos, you first have to get them off your devices. I upload my photos from both my phone and camera at least once a month. If I’ve been taking a lot of photos or have been traveling, I’ll often upload them more than that. It only takes a few minutes usually, so I’ll plug my phone or camera into my computer while I’m doing something else. If I haven’t taken as many photos, I upload them at the end of every month. I upload them directly to Dropbox, which makes things really easy later on because Dropbox automatically gives the photos a file name with the date and time the photo was taken. This means all photos are organized chronologically in order even when my phone and camera photos are all bunched together, plus I can very easily see when each photo was taken!

Organizing the Photos.

Because I upload my photos each month directly to Dropbox, the organizing step is actually very easy! At the beginning of each year, I create a folder in Dropbox with the year as the folder name. For example, this year’s folder name is “2019”. Inside that folder, I create 12 additional folders, one for each month of the year. These are labeled with the month. In order to keep them in the calendar order, each month name is preceded by the numerical for that month. So “1. January” for January or “9. September” for September. Once I’ve uploaded the photos to Dropbox, they can be found in the “Camera Uploads” folder on Dropbox. I just have to select them and drag them into the “2019” folder and then into the correct month folder. Since the file names are already by date, I’m all done!

Exception: When I’m traveling, I often take thousands of photos and because I often make photo books or upload the photos to Facebook and my blog, I do create a separate folder for just the travel photos and place it either in the month folder or, if the trip spanned days in more than one month, in the year folder. For these, I label them with the destination(s) and year. For example, when I traveled to Scotland and Ireland this fall, I created a folder named “Scotland & Ireland 2018”.

If you’re thinking that your Dropbox will fill up really quickly using this method, you’re right! That’s why I only leave the photos for the current and previous month in Dropbox. I don’t want to pay for extra storage, so I back up all my photos elsewhere (see next section). I create an additional “2019” folder in the “Pictures” folder on my computer. After I’ve backed the photos up, I simply drag the month’s folder to this other “2019” folder, where it will reside for all eternity.

Backing Up the Photos.

I back up my photos is two additional places. First, I upload all photos (I do usually go through them first and delete any blurry or mistake photos) to Google Photos at the end of each month. I simply select all of the photos from that month, upload them, then add them to a new album On Google Photos, I simply label the album with the month and year. For example, “January 2019”.  I create a separate folder for any long trips (especially if I took a lot of photos) and label it with the destination(s) and year.

I also back up my photos on an external hard-drive. I have one from Seagate that holds 1 terabyte. I create a folder with the year on my hard-drive, then at the end of each month, drag the month folder into this, which automatically copies it. Super simple!

And that’s it!

Cutting Clutter

Today, someone asked my siblings and me if we have summer jobs.  We were joking around, and I mentioned that I am making quite a bit less per hour than both my brother and sister.  The woman we were talking to joked with my mom, saying that I should get a handicap, perhaps my parents should pay for more of my stuff or something.  My mom joked that my handicap was to clean the house (since my job is custodial work, mostly cleaning).  I’m not sure if that’s quite a handicap, but it is true that when I come home from college, our house is much cleaner.  It’s not that my mom and the rest of the family are slobs, or that it is filthy, but I am much better at organizing and deep cleaning.  When I have free time, especially when I am home, I often clean or organize things.  I am also much better at GETTING RID OF STUFF, which is something my family really struggles with.  I don’t mind hanging on to things that have a lot of meaning or that we need, use, or really love, but otherwise, I don’t see the point in keeping things.

A couple of days ago I went through a bin off artwork and schoolwork, some of which was from middle school and most of which was from my younger years.  I got rid of over half of it.  Although it’s kind of fun to look back at your old work and laugh about what you wrote about, I also know that I won’t miss most of it if it’s gone.  That’s mostly my process when getting rid of things: if I’m going to miss it, I keep it, but otherwise (for the most part) I get rid of it.  I kept some of the stuff, mostly letters and artwork that I thought was really exceptional (well, for a 7-year-old).  I also kept some of the cooler projects I have from art class, since they will be good ideas to use if I become an art teacher.  The truth is, papers and artwork take up room and create clutter, and I really don’t need most of it.

I attacked our big bookcase in the living room this afternoon with the same though in mind (my brother helped me this time).  We got rid of at least 1/4 of the books (assuming our parents don’t reclaim anything in the “get rid of” pile).  We’re hoping to par some of the categories (namely, nature books) a bit more with the help of our parents.  We probably don’t NEED and likely won’t even read 7 books on how amazing nature is.

I am hoping to attack a few more cabinets with the same process this summer.  But for now, I need to figure out what we’re going to do with all of these books.  Some are in pretty good condition, but most are rather worn.  Would it be better to donate them or try to sell them online?