Let’s Organize Those Pix!

It’s not like it used to be. You don’t file the pix you take into shoe boxes. You don’t put them into cardboard photo albums with sticky-backed paper and cellophane. But are your pictures really better off where they are? Admit it—most are hidden from view, buried somewhere on a hard drive. Or worse, they’ve never even made it off of your SD card.

Don’t get me wrong; having it all digital is where it’s at. You just need to be organized so that you actually know where it’s at. If you look at my hard drive, you’ll see some serious anal-retentiveness. But I really don’t think that’s a bad thing. I can put my finger on just about any picture in just about three clicks.

Labeling and Naming is Key:

Start with a folder, and label it with a year.

Or a decade. Or whatever makes sense to you. I actually have both: decades for the more scant collections of older stuff that’s been scanned, years and months for the newer stuff.

The decade folders go back to the 1950s with pictures of my parents and grandparents. Year-folders start in about 1999, the year our oldest was born and continue up until we finally went digital in 2005. That’s when the month subfolders begin because digital always means hundreds of shots for a single activity.

Use Numbers to Stay in Order

When you label your folders and subfolders, always use numbers and they’ll stay in order. Start with the year and tack the month onto the end. So, for example, all my pix for this month will go into a folder called 2012-02 for February 2012. Next month will be 2012-03, which will file itself neatly next to the one before it.

Why be so specific?

Because if someone asks me, “Hey, do you have that picture of Aunt Lauren when she came for Anna’s graduation?” I know exactly where to look: April 2009 (2009-04). Braiden’s first day of kindergarten: 2004-08. Garrison’s birth: 2010-12. See? If you know when it was, you know where it is.


Next Level Organization:

Now, if that level of organization is not enough for you, there’s more (there’s always more).

You can name your folders within your folders

I sometimes do this at the month-subfolder level because, for example, we seem to always have a lot going on in July. That month is a cousin-fest with like 30-something kids (no lie) from around the country from both sides of the family. Independence Day celebrations. Our annual trip to our favorite camping/fishing/four-wheelin’ spot, Gooseberry. So, July is one that always has subfolders, and, even though there are thousands of pictures taken that month, any pic is a quick find.

This is easier than you think because your camera will actually organize your pix for you automatically as long as you never do anything crazy like delete your entire SD card. Always leave the last shot on there once you’ve moved your  pix into the folders you want. That way, the filenames will go up consecutively for you, and even after you move them into your folders, they stay chronological.

Your Memories are worth the work

Do this it as you go, and it’s really no work at all.  The projects you want to create with your pix are worth it. Being able to find the exact shot you’re looking for is worth it. So start clickin’ and let’s get organized!