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The Best Way to Organize Photos

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

4 min read

The Best Way to Organize Photos

Have you had photo organizing on the to-do list for months… maybe even years? You’re not alone. This seemingly daunting task is important now more than ever, with studies showing that over 1.4 trillion digital photos alone were expected to be taken in 2020. However, with a few steps, tips and tricks along the way, there’s no reason to put off organizing your photos any longer.

We’ll walk you through the basics on organizing your photos, including:

  • Storing
  • Locating
  • Categorizing
  • Naming
  • Editing
  • Backing Up.

Storing Photos

There are two key factors to consider before you start organizing photos:

  1. Where will you store your photos?

Depending on your storage needs (how many photos you have) you’ll likely need either an external hard drive or a cloud-based solution (or both). Check out the storage available on the solution that you want to use to make sure it’s capable of taking on your entire photo collection before you start.

2. Where will I back up my photos?

It’s best practice to not rely on a single storage space for your photos (unless that space has a dedicated back-up feature). Backing up your images is a top priority, as electronics can have a chance of failure.

Locating Photos

To start, it’s worth noting that you probably have print photos you’d like to organize with your digital photos. This means you’ll have to find and digitize these photos. Physically locate all your treasured photos, and reach out to friends or family for additional photos you’d like to have in your collection.

Once the photos are digitized (in as high resolution as possible) it's time to locate your other digital photos. These steps are time-consuming as they require going through all your devices and hard drives to find the photos you want to organize. Don’t worry, it will be worth the effort!

Here are the steps we recommend:

  1. Create a local folder on your desktop.
  2. Digitize printed photos and transfer them to the folder.
  3. Find photos on your computer(s) and move them to the folder.
  4. Go through your mobile devices, copy photos onto your computer and into the folder.
  5. Find your photos on the internet (such as email and social media) and save those to the folder.

Categorizing Photos

Folder structure plays a huge role in designing an easy-to-use photo organizer. Organizing photos by the year, month and event name, for example, is a great way to do this. If you can’t remember the year a photo was taken, remember that kind of metadata is stored in the photo file itself. To view this metadata (on a PC), right-click on the image and select “Properties” then “Details” and you’ll see the date it was taken.

Naming Photos

Since it's not practical to navigate image files using the numeric file names that most cameras generate, you’ll need to rename your photos. This may sound like a lot of work, but in the long run, you’ll be able to find your photos so much easier. You can batch rename photos to save time on this process. Here's how to rename files on Windows and a Mac.

Editing Photos

Vetting photos is an important step to get the most out of your storage device. During this step, you can delete duplicates or photos that you no longer want to keep. Once you have the collection you’re happy with, taking some time to quickly edit your favourite photos can take them from "great" to "fantastic". This article from REI shares some helpful tips for editing your photos.

Backing Up Photos

The biggest question most people have is how often they should be backing up their images. One easy rule of thumb to follow is to simply do a new backup every time you add new photos, or when you complete a round of editing or other work. Make sure as soon as you’ve finished organizing your photos for the first time, you immediately do your first backup.

Organizing Photos to Scale

While for individuals, the process above can work well for years to come, many organizations find that they outgrow the type of photo organizing solution. Digital asset management (DAM) solutions, like MediaValet, are built to scale, designed for the purpose of offering a smart, easy way to manage photos that grow with you.

It's Time to Get Organized!

While photo organization seems like a big undertaking, that’s only the case before you’ve gotten started. Once you have the right photo organization solution in place, it’s easy to stay on top of storing new photos and doing regular backups. Look at it as a necessary project that you’ll thank yourself for in the long run!

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