Digital Pictures


Organizing Digital Pictures can be a big hurdle for a majority of people.  In fact, it is RARE that I come across someone that has a ‘system’ on how to deal with their digital pictures.  It used to be so simple.  You could just pop a roll of film in the camera, take pictures until the roll is filled, drop the roll off at a film developing ‘box’, and then pick up the prints a few days later.

Now,we take pictures and then become ‘paralyzed’.  We take MORE pictures now that we aren’t using film.  In fact, statistics show that since the introduction of digital cameras, we take 4 times as many photos.  So – we take LOTS of photos and fill up memory cards.  We have a few choices once the memory card is full.

1.  Buy another card (a client of mine just confessed to having about 50 of these).

2.  Put them on the computer to reuse the card.

3.  Stop taking pictures.

Since I have owned a digital camera for over 10 years, and have been in the ‘memory preservation’ industry for 15 years, I have developed a system to manage my pictures that I love.  My oldest son just had to do a project for school where he needed pictures and BAM!  We had our hands on the photos he needed in minutes.

Here’s what I have done to create a method for digital picture management:

1.   Decide on a photo organizing software. I have used three different software programs, but the one I have settled on is my favorite. I have used it consistently for the past 5 years. It allows you to assign the pictures to a variety of ‘albums’ (to print later) but they’re only stored on your computer in one location. This is key due to the VOLUME that we now take and the fact that as camera Mega-pixel sizes go up, file sizes go up as well.   The editing features are excellent.  In fact, there is a popular software package that professional photographers use but it is quite expensive.  The software I love is sold for around $50 and it’s geared for the family photographer.  Simple to use, understand, organize, and edit your photos.    Here’s a link to the software (called Memory Manager) that I use.

2.  Store my photos by date and/or theme – I have a year as a ‘big’ category, then folders within the year by month (o1, 02, 03…12).  This way, they sort chronologically and are easy to find.  My son needs a vacation picture for a school project, and I just go to the year then month we took the trip.    I can also go to a vacation folder because I have assigned the photo in both locations.

3.  Regularly upload pictures from my camera card to the computer – after every event if possible – or every 2 weeks or so.  This will help avoid losing HUNDREDS of pictures should your camera be lost or stolen – plus – if you do it frequently, it’s easy and fast to do it in smaller batches.  (A tip here – delete photos directly on the camera during the event or even before you upload if you know they aren’t good…not critical but helps the selection process once photos are on your computer).   If you have an option of popping a camera card into a slot in your computer, versus using a camera cord – pop the card into the slot.  It’s faster…at least it is on my computer.  When I upload them – I also delete the photos from the upload I did one-two weeks prior.  I know these photos have been backed up so I feel comfortable erasing them from my camera card.  It also keeps my card ‘free and clear’ so I don’t have a ‘memory full’ message on a camera card when I need to be taking pictures.

4.  BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS.  Once pictures are on the computer, and you’ve placed them in the folders using your software…you’ll want a backup of the pictures you’ve stored on your computer.  The ‘experts’ actually recommend two backups.  External hard drives, DVDs (archival quality…’gold’), or a service.  I use an external hard drive, and a service.  I use because it’s truly brainless (ie – I don’t have to REMEMBER…it backs up everything virtually ‘all the time’) and it gives you little green ‘dots’ by your files to show you what has been backed up.  Yellow dots tell you it’s set up to be backed up the next time (I think it backs up more than 1x/day but not sure because that happens in the background).

5.  Ok – so here’s another big one.  PRINT THE PICTURES or create Digital Scrapbooks.  Let’s face it – staring at a digital photo frame or slide show on your computer is not convenient.  It is the printed picture that you can enjoy for generations.  If the event was important enough to photograph, isn’t it important enough to print the pictures and even share them with others?

I hope you are able to create a system that works for you.  You’ll be amazed at how much you enjoy your pictures and how relieved you feel about them once you get a system in place to manage them.  Consider sharing this article with a friend to help them get a system in place as well.


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