Spring Fling Digital Photo Organizing Challenge #15in15in2015 (Day 4: DELETE & EDIT!)

DIGITAL DILEMMA — SHOOT FIRST, NEVER PRINT LATERfilm-219911_1280
Part of the problems posed with digital photography —hoarding on our hard drives — is that we are no longer limited by a roll of film with a specific number of exposures. We don’t have to stop! (Well, some of us who run out of memory on our iPhones do!)

We definitely shoot faster than we print in today’s world. Back in the days of film, it was a 1-to-1 ratio. You took the photo and you printed it. Heck, you probably printed two of every picture because they always had a deal on doubles! Now you take a ton of digital photos, knowing full well that 99.9% of them will never (ever) be printed onto paper.

photo-256889_1920Sure, you can start printing all your digital pictures. But that leads to the former well-known definition of physical hoarding and clutter because now you’d have photo albums filling bookshelves and stuck under beds. Who are we trying to kid? If you printed all the digital photos you take, you’d probably have all those photo prints filling Amazon cardboard boxes because they never quite made it into photo albums, right? Hey, no judging, no shame.

Maybe the photos you printed are sitting inside same boxes that also hold the special new Project Life scrapbook photo album you ordered online from Amazon with the best intentions to fill them fast and finally get “caught up.” Yeah, so that happens. You’re not alone. I hear it all the time.

Trust me, printing all your photos as 4×6 prints is NOT the wisest solution in the end either. I didn’t say I don’t suggest printing. Not at all. Just not ALL of them. We will talk more about printing options before our two weeks are up so let’s first focus on dealing with our overwhelming digital dilemma.

DIGITAL DILEMMA — MORE THAN ONE KID
Okay, I’m not exactly promoting the fact that “only children” are the solution to digital photo organization. I’m just saying that if you have more than one kid you likely suffer from what once was termed “Double Print Syndrome.” Because any photo that includes more than one of your kiddos faces will have to be printed twice so you can put it both kids’ piles. I can see all you Moms of siblings nodding your heads at this logic.

children-593313_1920It’s the same concept for digital, minus the printing. You’d think you would need to duplicate, or copy, the image so it can go into two folders labeled for each child. But please don’t! This concept not only doubles your workload but it also can cut your hard drive space in half! Not a wise move on either side of the coin. I’ll give you alternative ways to assign that information to the one JPG. Think of it like a photo on Facebook that you tag with the names of everyone pictured and that data is saved along with the image so you can see it later. Or forever if we’re talking about Facebook, right?

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 1.11.25 PMDIGITAL DILEMMA — “MISCELLANEOUS” IS NEVER A GOOD NAME
We just spent a whole blog post or two on naming files and folders. It’s that important. And let me just tell you that “Miscellaneous” is NEVER a good name for a folder. The same goes for “etc” or “other” or any alternative word that doesn’t really describe anything specific. You may as well call it LATER because all you’ve done is delay the decision-making needed to label these photos clearly or sub-divide them into sorted folders that can be named.

DIGITAL DILEMMA — “HOMELESS” PHOTOS DON’T FIT ANY CATEGORIES
But what about all those so-called “homeless” photos that don’t seem to fit into any of your existing categories? Do they just end up loose as random leftovers scattered inside folders here and there? If you really can’t identify what a batch of photos could be called, are they important enough to keep? If you still say yes to these pics, then I recommend having a maximum of one folder for each month that is named YEAR-MO-GENERAL to hold what’s left of the non-labeled pre-sorted photos. Some people prefer to have everything neatly placed inside folders. Or if this doesn’t sound like you, just let them be by themselves inside your YEAR-MO folder. For those of you already lost as to why I shortened “MONTH” to “MO,” it’s to remind you that we want a 02-digit month so your computer displays them in order. Smiley face stickers and high fives for those of you who picked up on that subtle hint!

DIGITAL DILEMMA — UNKNOWN UPLOAD-DATED FOLDERS
When you upload photos, maybe your camera or digital device and photo software automatically creates a folder on your hard drive with that day’s date. While you’d first think this is a definite advantage in that it handles date-labeling for you, it doesn’t solve everything because your folder most likely includes a larger batch of photos that are much older than today’s upload date.

For example, let’s say you upload photos the morning of April 1 (no joking!). Chances are, the photos are technically all taken in March, right? And if you don’t regularly download your photos off your camera’s memory card, you might be copying pictures from back in 2014, maybe from Christmas or even earlier. See how the 2015-04-01 folder date would be misleading in this case?

DELETEKEYDELETE THE DUDS & DUPLICATES
This part is fun. Well, not at first. Why is it so hard to hit delete sometimes? I think it’s a little like taking a 4×6 printed photograph, crumpling it up, then shredding it into pieces and throwing it into the smelliest, ickiest dumpster that’s going to be picked up by the garbage truck within 30 seconds. It seems so harsh and so final. If you have doubts that you may someday question your deletion efforts, you may be paralyzed with fear, choosing not to delete now. But by delaying your deletion decision too many times, the JPGs begin to pile up quickly.

IMG_1592Your mission today is to start from your most recent photo folders (and then work your way back in time). Open whatever photo viewer you like on your computer so you can see the image in full-size. Look quickly and make a gut instinct decision if it’s a great (or at least good if it’s the only one of its kind) photo. If you absolutely don’t like it (or need it preserved), please hit the DELETE key or trash it. And move on to the next.

Easy ones to ditch are the “finger in front of the lens,” “pitch black lens cap still on,” “blurry/out of focus (unless intentional), “your feet or the ground (if not planned or a successful accident), “unflattering up-your-nose selfie views,” and so on.

PICTURE PLAYOFFS
If you’ve taken multiple shots — and if you have kids, it’s a given — study the first shot, then look at the second one to compare it closely. Which one is better? Eyes open or closed? Smiles? Any distracting background or foreground in one vs the other? Zoom in to double-check the details.

Once you pick a winner between those two, send your winner into the next round with the next photo in the series. Keep having them “battle” to determine a winner unless they are different enough to warrant keeping more than one set. For example, the pose and the people are the same but one shot is of everyone smiling nicely and the second shot is the wacky faces one. You’ll probably want to keep both and that’s okay. The end goal is to eliminate the extras, reducing hard drive space and cloud storage costs.

If you photograph toddlers, sports or sunsets, you probably have more “series” or burst photos than any of us. That’s because you must shoot often in hopes of catching the exact perfect instant and you usually don’t know you caught a great shot until after the fact when the action is over and you can analyze the photos afterward. Most of us know to delete the really unflattering, really blurry images of people.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 2.37.06 PMBut what about a sunset photo that’s still just as awesome as the ones before or after it? It can be hard to narrow these down unless you are a pro with a trained eye and ruthless regard for reducing image count. If you can cull your choices down and the ones left still tell “the story,” you have enough. If you can’t tell the story of a sunset in fewer than 65 photos, you need help. Enlist a loved one or a good friend you trust to vote. However, you have to agree to let them delete the ones they didn’t choose as the very best. You can’t ask for their input and then veto it! Try to “let it go” and realize that these sunset photos are not as precious to you as ones of your loved ones. If you keep too many sunsets, you won’t have room for your kids or cats. Try to keep things in perspective, people.

NOTE: Speaking of cats…if you’re a curious one, note your hard drive/folder sizes before you start deleting so you can quantify the results of your efforts with real data! You’ll either be amazed or depressed at the results of your efforts. 

Forgot my "real" camera for my son's basketball game so had to shoot with my iPhone. Obviously, I mostly got a lot of pics of blurry players & usually missed the main action. Now I need to delete the ones that can't be salvaged!
Forgot my “real” camera for my son’s basketball game one Saturday morning so I had to shoot with my iPhone. Obviously, I mostly got a lot of pics of blurry players & usually missed the main action. Come Monday, I needed to go back & delete the ones that can’t be salvaged!

DECIDING TO DELETE
Once done with a batch, pick a new month and its sub-folders to view and find delete-able shots. Keep on keepin’ on until you’ve deleted any for-sure duds or duplicates, and eliminated any extras. That includes silly or random reference shots you snapped just to text to a friend or to remember where you parked and no longer need in your own photo collection. Be a little ruthless here and you’ll be grateful when we do the next steps.

Better yet, you need to start doing this shortly after you shoot instead of months later. I’m not saying you have to look and delete right from your phone or camera after you take the pics in that very moment. But usually within a few days, you’ll find some free time to flip through them & compare/decide. If taken on your phone, you may prefer to wait until they are on your larger computer screen to see them better to decide. That’s okay but don’t just keep them all and tell yourself you’ll decide to delete later.

We all know how that ends up, right? You don’t do it because you’ll think you’ll have time another day. Until you’re all set to record your child’s [insert important moment: recital, game, first steps, prom, etc] and your phone/camera memory is full you can’t capture the special moment so you have to suddenly start deleting things in a rush to hopefully make enough room to capture what you can. The added pressure and stress of that moment, nearly (or maybe entirely) missing out on enjoying it (as well as recording it for the child or others to see later), as well as possibly deleting a photo or video you really DID want to keep, plus the sinking feeling of failure at being organized “one of these days” is enough to depress even the perkiest of people. Don’t let this happen to you…ever or again. Don’t delay. Do it today. Download. Delete. Deal, people!

DAY 4: 15 MINUTES: DELETE THE DUDS!

Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open your main photo folder’s most-recent month’s pictures. Use whatever simple picture viewer software you wish (Windows Photo Gallery or Mac Preview or Quick Look) to view each photo and decide if it’s worthy to save or delete. If you have duds, they’re easy to delete. Same goes for duplicates. Compare closely to choose the best and pick your faves. Can’t decide? Ask an unbiased friend to vote but give them the power to delete the ones they say aren’t as awesome as your others. It’s the only way to keep from drowning in a digital sea of JPGs!

In summary, your DAY 4 DUTIES:

  1. OPEN YOUR 2015 MONTHLY FOLDERS & VIEW THEM LARGE ENOUGH TO DECIDE TO DELETE OR KEEP EACH PHOTO. 
  2. MOVE QUICKLY THROUGH ANY SUB-FOLDERS & THEN WORK BACKWARD THROUGH 2014 & PAST YEARS UNTIL YOU’VE ELIMINATED ANY EXTRAS. 
  3. IF YOU SAW ANY PHOTOS THAT NEED EDITING TO BE SAVED, SAVE A COPY OF THE FILE AND RENAME IT WITH “2EDIT” AT THE FRONT OF ITS FILENAME. MAKE SURE IT IS SAVED IN THE SAME LOCATION AS THE ORIGINAL.
  4. ONCE YOU’RE DONE DELETING THE DUDS & DUPLICATES, YOU CAN TAKE A DEEP BREATH, CLOSE YOUR EYES & CLICK TO EMPTY THE TRASH! NOW HIGH FIVE YOURSELF FOR DOING “THE DELETE DEED!” 
  5. BONUS: IF DELETING WASN’T HARD FOR YOU, FEEL FREE TO TACKLE SOME OF YOUR EDITING & THEN DELETE THE ORIGINAL (IF SATISFIED). IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE OR ADVICE WITH EDITING, PLEASE WAIT FOR A LATER POST OR GOOGLE IT. 

attention-303861_1280WHOA WARNING: EDITING ISN’T EVIL
I won’t go into photo editing per se here but the editing process should be part of your photo routinabstract-19401_1920e if it’s not yet. I’m not saying you need to overly doctor your pics until they barely resemble the reality that was captured. That artistic effect has its time and place too. I’m suggesting you use editing to enhance and improve so-so photos into awesome photos. Or to save pretty-crappy pics that need help with exposure, red eye, cropping, color correction, saturation or other adjustments.

The best part about photo editing these days is that you do NOT need high-end Photoshop talents to improve a photo. Often the basic editing available in your device will do just fine. Whether that’s a mobile app on your phone or iPad, or a free online browser-based solution like PicMonkey.com, you can take control of your photos to improve the basics, or add fun filters and effects to completely alter the look and feel of your image. You can even add text or art as well to show your creative side.

PicMonkey.com
That said, my number one advice for editing is to first SAVE YOUR ORIGINAL and only edit a copy. This will ensure that if you really mess up in your editing efforts, you’ll at least have the original to revert back to instead. This is only a TEMPORARY step! Once you’ve made your edits and verified that the file is the way you want it (and still at full-size resolution), you are now free to delete the first one.

Please note that your new file will probably have the same filename by default (but with the word copy in it). Edit the name accordingly. It will also update the date to today, but that shouldn’t matter in this case if you make sure it’s located in the correct folder. And yes, sometimes you like the original AND your fancy edited version so keep both. But let’s not get carried away and make TWO VERSIONS of every photo we take, k? We already know we have a problem. Multiplying it does not solve anything! We must DIVIDE! It’s not new math, folks.

The real reason I’m mentioning it now today is that while you are going through each photo in your collection, you can decide right here and now if a photo needs editing. But I’m not talking about the fancy editing for fun effects though. That you can do later on. I’m referring to the “necessary” kind that takes away red eyes or brings a way-too-dark photo into the light. Both will “save” the photo from a sure DELETE.

So while I said to delete with ease, if you find a photo that you really wanted to be decent but isn’t, make a COPY of it. If you want, you can add the word “2EDIT” in front of the existing filename so it will be easy to find again. I don’t suggest taking the time to mess with editing now as you can end up spending hours on three photos if you’re not careful with the clock. Instead, keep doing your “deleting” process and mark your “2EDIT” pics for another 15-minute session either yet tonight or a different day. They’ll be there waiting for you. Organizing and time-management experts advise that you “batch” similar processes to speed up your efficiency of tasks. That’s why I’ve isolated these into small, simple steps instead of taking one folder of photos all the way through an entire workflow process. Now go get busy!

stopwatch-25763_1280TALKING TIME LIMITS
I’ll admit you can easily get sucked into today’s task. Looking at every photo in your collection may take MUCH longer than 15 minutes. I know it would for me! But you need to be fast, go with your gut and figure out how to quickly decide. Hopefully you’ll get faster and more decisive as you go through your JPGs.

© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

SPRING FLING DIGITAL PHOTO ORGANIZING CHALLENGE #15IN15IN2015 (DAY 3: DETAILS)

devil-peek-over“The devil is in the details” may be an odd phrase, but it’s supposed to warn you that overlooking the small things now can cause bigger problems later on. This is so true when we’re talking about organizing photos! Details are what we’re covering today so don’t skip this step.

What’s your vision for April Fool’s Day? I’m not interested in your planned pranks & practical jokes but I am curious about how you’ll feel having (almost) finished the #15in15in2015 Spring Fling challenge? Think for a minute what you want to achieve in the next two weeks with your digital photo organization. Do you have lofty goals or would you be thrilled with a partial success?

runner-579327_1280
Friday April 3rd is your FINISH LINE! Run, Forrest, run!

FINISH LINE FRIDAY
Visualize with me…it’s Friday, April 3rd. Your digital photos are now all organized! Now when everyone starts posting their #FlashbackFriday (or #ThrowbackThursday) pics on Facebook, you no longer groan, sigh & eye roll out of feigned annoyance, mostly from the fact that you had no clue how to find those old pics to share online.

Now let a big grin fill your face as you realize those days are over because now you are totally prepared to participate in all future #FlashbackFridays or #tbts. You’ll be able to quickly locate any other “antique” JPG someone asks about. Simply open your PICTURES folder, choose an older YEAR folder and browse by thumbnail to find an image you’re willing to put in front of the whole planet. It won’t take you long to find a specific picture, although you may find yourself spending more time strolling down memory lane!

QUICK RECAP
You’ve already gathered all your digital photo files into one hard drive. And you’ve put them all into one main folder. You’ve separated and sorted those into year and month folders. Not bad. Some of you may be tempted to stop here but this is just the tip of the iceberg!

DATES + DETAILS = TOTAL MEMORY RECALL
Unless you’re one of those crazy date-recall people who can remember exactly what they were doing, wearing, and eating on any date in their past, I’m assuming you need some help remembering beyond just hearing the date, which is simply a set of numbers. As we age, those tend to blur together so having specifics tied to the date helps improve recall.

Today we’re going to add in those memory joggers to the folder name to help you (and anyone else) identify the photos inside it WITHOUT opening it up to view them first. Trust me, your future brain will thank you for doing this step!

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SUB-DIVIDING SUCCESS
At a minimum, you should have 12 monthly folders in each year folder. If you’re anything like me (and I’d like to think there are at least a few other camera-crazy people out there), you take so many photos that each folder/album for the month would be so ginormous that it’s too much to scroll through them all. You need to divide them up, especially if your month included a significant event like a birthday, wedding, vacation, special school activity, sports performance or anything that generates a large number of photos itself.

In my photo collection history, I’ve noticed January and November tend to be “light” months for me photo-quantity-wise so my pictures can fit in a general group. Yet in some months such as April and October, when my kids have birthdays, or summer with vacation, or December with Christmas, I may have 5 or even 10 sub-divided folders. There are no rules or limits. You make as many as you need to feel comfortable, although I wouldn’t bother with a folder that has fewer than say a dozen pics in it unless they just don’t fit into any other album. Ideally, most months will have more than one event or theme folder inside.

FILENAMES FIRST
First we need to talk about some rules for naming files on computers. Because unlike simply writing whatever we want on Post-It notes or on the backs of the actual photo print, we have to follow some specific conventions that will ensure our files will properly display today and many tomorrows into the future.

PUNCTUATION PROBLEMS
Remember how I told you to use either dashes or underscores instead of spaces? Technically, you can also use parentheses marks if you’re feeling punctuationally frisky. Even though they are allowed, I would avoid forward, straight and back slashes (/ | \) as those are used in programming and on the web, and the same goes for periods. I know that doesn’t leave much creativity, does it? Let’s just agree to be either dash or underscore folks, po-tay-to, po-tot-to. End. Of. Story.

DON’T CAP IT
As for capitalization, it’s really a matter of personal preference for the most part, although some programmers/coders would beg differently. In normal use, I tend to like the initial cap to improve readability over all lowercase, but again, the internet prefers — and defaults to — lowercase so if you’re overly cautious, stick with that. If you don’t mind taking a few risks, throw in a few caps & hopefully it won’t ever hurt compatibility.

ruler-pixaby-free

THE LONG & SHORT OF IT
Now to the next question you’re likely to ask…how LONG can my filename be? If you’re old school, you might remember the DOS-imposed character limits, so now you automatically abbreviate your filenames into overly covert codes that are hard to guess by anyone but you. Not good. And not necessary.

Today’s computers CAN accept a lot more characters. If you Google it, you may read that they can handle 256 but that’s not for the FILENAME alone. That’s for the whole path, which also includes folder names of where it exists on your computer. So don’t go crazy spelling everything out in uber-detail either.

The best bet is a compromise of common sense. Enough to make sense to someone other than you and yet not too long that it gets cut off either. Some experts say beyond 63 characters are at risk so stick to fewer than that. (For reference, that previous sentence was 63 characters long if you took the spaces out. And no, I didn’t plan it that way when I wrote it, I’m just THAT good! Besides, I doubt most of us would make a filename THAT long, right?

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THE 5 WS
Anyone in journalism or elementary school writing remembers the 5 Ws of who, what, when, where and why. We probably only need four because the WHEN is already answered by the folder name we’ve already created, and the photo file itself is dated as well. So that leaves the who, what, where and why as possible questions to answer in our filename to leave clues for what photos are inside the folder.

Let’s take a vacation as an example because many of us tend to take more photos while on a trip. I’m definitely very snap-happy and can easily bring home +1000 pics in a week on a couple cameras plus phones!

JPG VACAY
When you want to look back on the trip, it becomes helpful to have them separated by day and location anyway, especially if you visited different sites each day. Instead of having a single folder called 2014-04_CA_SpringBreak with 1500 photos in it, I separate it by daily activity so each album has 100-200 photos in it, which is still too many but it isn’t as large or overwhelming as the whole vacation at once.

  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day1_SanDiego
  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day2_SeaWorld
  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day3_Zoo
  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day4_OceanPier
  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day4PM_SunsetCruise
  • 2014-04-CA_SpringBreak_Day5_Coronado_Bahia

Now if you’re paying close attention, you should cry foul and say, but Brenda, you included “day1” and such, which is the same as WHEN and that’s already covered, isn’t it? And I’d say, yes, sort of, but to me, the specifics of the order of our trip were important to me in regard to the itinerary flow rather than the exact calendar date. By listing the location destination of each day’s activity, I also included the where, which in this case also answers the what, and why. Of course, if you have a couple “boring” days photo-quantity-wise, you can just group those together like “Days1-3.” Or maybe your vacation adventure could be sorted into 4 folders — one each for snorkeling, golfing, deep-sea fishing & a general catch-all for the rest. These are just ideas; make the system work for you!

IT’S WHO & WHAT YOU KNOW
Maybe I should give you another example that involves people instead of places. How about kids and sports or school activities? Want to be able to find the photos of your son’s basketball season? 2015-01-Kyan_Basketball_Bolts_NYS-Rec would be how I include photos of my son’s basketball team named the Bolts that’s part of the NYS recreational league. See how I included hints of that info in there?

Granted, it may not seem to matter much now as it’s only his first season in basketball but maybe by the time he’s a senior in high school, he’ll have been on multiple club, traveling, rec and school leagues, so I’ll definitely appreciate the specifics. And years from now, having the team name in the folder title would be a helpful memory for us both as it’s not shown on their jerseys.

home-office-336581_1280
So you are thinking ahead to the future and trying to second-guess yourself (& anyone else) who will be inheriting your digital files. Give them every clue you can now!

Here are two more examples just to show you other ways this works for me regarding my kids’ birthdays:

  • 2014-04-Kyan-9thBday-FriendParty-MinecraftTheme (from the party only)
  • 2014-04-Kyan-9thBday-OtherFun
    (includes all other birthday-related photos that were NOT from that party)

DAY 3: 15 MINUTES — MOVING FROM SPEED DATING TO DETAILING!

Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and start adding DETAILS to the names of your dated folders of photos. Keep the date listed first and remember to maintain the dashes or underscore system you started.

In your details, you should think of adding the primary focus of which person, place or purpose for the photos. Use shorter words or abbreviations to keep filename lengths within reason. For example, use “grad” instead of “graduation” or “wed” instead of “wedding.” Obviously, there is no need to include your location/where in your filename if your photos were taken at or around home. Save that for specifying locales outside your usual “neighborhood” to make it easier to find your travel photos.

Don’t get stressed out trying to come up with your folder labels. You can always modify them later if you change your mind or want to add a detail. You also don’t need to list everyone who is pictured in the photos, but if the event was focused on a certain person, list them (Kiersten-guitar-recital). In a few days, I’ll show you an incredible face-recognition feature that will help you find people in your photos. For now, emphasize the purpose for taking these pictures (or place if helpful).

A well-structured folder organization system labeled with detailed filenames will give you the power of your computer’s “search” function to quickly locate all photo folders that match your desired keyword. You could search for “recital” on your computer’s finder/explorer to see the dated folders that include it in the name. From there, you could narrow it down by the folder’s filename date or simply look at the pics inside to make sure you’ve found the ones you were looking for. These steps may take you some time up front now, but they will save you from hours of frustration in the future from hunting for the photo files you want to find!

In summary, your DAY 3 DUTIES: 

  1. LOOK AT YOUR MONTHLY 2015 PHOTO FOLDERS TO DECIDE IF YOU NEED TO SEPARATE ANY OF THEM INTO SUB-FOLDERS & CREATE SPECIFIC NAMES WITH ADDED DETAILS.
  2. NOW START WITH DECEMBER 2014’S FOLDER & WORK YOUR WAY BACK THROUGH LAST YEAR, MOVING PHOTOS INTO NEW SUB-FOLDERS & DETAILING FILENAMES AS NEEDED TO HELP BREAK BIG BATCHES INTO MORE-MANAGEABLE PIECES.
  3. GOT THE HANG OF IT? DON’T STOP! CONTINUE DETAILING YOUR PHOTO FOLDERS OF PAST YEARS UNTIL YOU’VE FINISHED LABELING YOUR ENTIRE PHOTO COLLECTION.

attention-303861_1280WHOA WARNING
In doing this whole date-driven sorting process, we’re assuming one big thing — that the dates of your photos are correct. That means your camera’s date is set correctly. If it is NOT at this time, please go change it immediately. Talk about confusing a whole future generation — having digital photos that appear to be made from 1997!?!

If you wish to have location data saved with each image, be sure to turn on your camera’s GPS setting, if available and so desired. Just so you know, you can keep this info off your images as they are taken for added security when sharing on social media sites, and simply add the geotag metadata later in post-processing for your own archival files. I know, I used some big words there. Bear with me, we’ll cover that in a couple days.

TALKING TIME LIMITS
Again, it’s hard to say if you needed the whole 15 minutes to do this task. Hopefully you took somewhere between 15 seconds and 15 hours. The point is to get it done in brief bits without hating your screen time by binging on a nonstop marathon. I’m sure you’d rather spend time on Netflix, Pinterest or Facebook for your excessive online addictions instead of dealing with your JPG filenames and locations on your hard drive. Don’t blame you one bit. But doing this now (and keeping up with it later) will ensure you won’t waste any more time looking for photos — or losing any photos!

basketball-562615_1280MARCH MADNESS
I don’t live under a rock. In fact, I live in Vegas so you can BET on the fact that I know it’s the middle of March Madness (college basketball playoffs). So if your bracket is already busted (bummer for many as my home state (Iowa State) was upset on day 1) or you’re a sports widow and need a productive project, feel free to tackle this one. I’ll definitely BET on the fact that you’ll WIN the game of organizing your digital photos with me as your coach!

© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

SPRING FLING DIGITAL PHOTO ORGANIZING CHALLENGE #15IN15IN2015 (DAY 2: NAMING)

You’re back! I’m glad you weren’t too overwhelmed by yesterday’s #15in15in2015 kickoff for the First Day of Spring. Since we had to cover some initial housekeeping yesterday because it was the first post of the Spring Fling challenge, today we’re getting right into the nuts and bolts, or should I say, file cabinets, drawers, hanging folders, and manila file folders. Yep, I’m using a visual reference from the physical paper world to help you think about how to handle your digital life.

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FILE CABINET FOR JPGS
The file cabinet is your computer hard drive’s PICTURES folder. The file cabinet drawers represent each YEAR of your photo collection. Hanging folders serve as the MONTHS in your collection. And inside each month, you can add further detail with a manila file folder that specifies events, people, and places.

These themed topics are usually the major milestones and moments that we mostly photograph in our lives. Think birthdays, weddings, graduations, holidays and vacations. Although frankly our “everyday” moments are quickly becoming just as photographed thanks to Instagram’s plethora of cat & coffee candids, so maybe you’ll want a generic “catchall” folder for each month’s “miscellaneous” moments too.

If you think of organizing your digital files as if you would paper ones, it’s pretty simple to determine the basic structure for your folders and JPGs. The best part is that once you’ve established the system once, it’s a cakewalk to maintain as you add photos and grow your collection. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to find a photo you want much faster than before, if you even could before! And that’s the true beauty of a well-named chronologically based folder organizing system.
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But wait, you whine! That’s not how my brain works! I can’t remember what year we visited Disneyland for Spring Break, this system will never do the trick for me. Slow down, I’m not done. There’s more to it than dates. We’ll add details to jog your memory. And maybe searchable keywords later too. Relax and trust my system. Let’s learn more before you jump ship.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.44.35 PM2N = NAMING & NUMBERING
The 2Ns are the key to organizing and the secret to finding a photo sooner than later! Without proper naming of files, the computer’s default to prioritize numbering will throw off the best attempts at organizing. You’ll see why in a minute. Do not be afraid to rename folders! It can be done and undone multiple times over until you get a naming scheme that works the way your brain thinks. Don’t just use what you read online or in a book, or go blindly with whatever some organizing pro says (unless it’s me…ha!).

Try out this theory on your own photo collection. Test it on a small batch first to see how it suits your situation. Are the names/terms ones you’d normally use? Does it offer enough variety or flexibility to adapt as needed? Is it overly complex to integrate or far too simple to really make an impact? Don’t be afraid to make a hybrid of a couple styles to best match your specific needs. It’s not a “one size fits all” but if you don’t have a preference that you know of yet, I do recommend you try these dated (& eventually detailed) folders.

APRIL FOOLS FIRST
You’re not a fool but your computer will always start the year in April if you label folders using only words because it sorts alphabetically. To make January show up before April in your list of photo folders, you have to follow my specific naming structure for them to be displayed in order on your computer. That means using two-digit dates, such as 01 for January so it is listed numerically before the alphabetical leaders of April and August.

folder-26697_128002-TO-DO
My other “rule” is to re-use the year in your folder name as well because once the files are moved out of that YEAR folder, that info won’t be as obvious anymore. So the best folder name would be 2015-01 then 2015-02 and so on. Why don’t I put the month first? Well, I don’t want my Mac’s Finder to list a bunch of January folders, then Februarys…etc…through all my years’ worth of pics. I tend to think of the year first & then the month so it makes sense to me. (I have yet to hear a solid argument for putting the month first but go ahead & try me in the comments if you think you have one!)

TO-DASH OR_UNDERSCORE SPACES
That is the question. While computers of our past did not like spaces in folders & filenames, today’s can handle it just fine. However, tech experts recommend naming files shorter terms tied together with either dashes/hyphens or underscores because the internet does not like spaces. In fact, it turns them into these — %20. So to dash-or-not-to-dash. Or dash_or_not_to_dash. These are your choices. Or I guess if you want to be a renegade, you could use “dash or not to dash” as a filename. I’ll never really know but the web might wreck your well-laid plans. I highly suggest you start with one way that you like looking at and stick with it forever after. It’s a personal preference so pick a way and there you’ll stay. [Full disclosure: I still use spaces in my folder names, but not in my file names. Can’t really say why but it’s what I do & it works well for me so far.]

We’ll discuss other rules for naming files when we add more details, but for now, our folder names are just fine with numbers — and dashes or underscores, unless you want to be a renegade Space Cowboy like me.

Your instructions are below. Put any questions in the comments or email me directly. I welcome your feedback! See you tomorrow for Day 3, which is already one fifth of the way to finished!

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DAY 2: 15 MINUTES — THE “YEARS & MONTHS MAKE & MOVE” PROCESS

Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and start making new folders within your YEAR folders for the MONTHS. Don’t forget to follow my specific naming structure in order to keep them displayed in order on your computer.

You already have a 2015 folder, right? And your January-March photos should be in it, right? (If not, please do this first). Adding a sub-folder of 2015-01 becomes home for your January pics. Do a 2015-02 for February & 2015-03 for March. But this month isn’t over yet, you say. And you plan to take more photos yet this month. No problem. Where should you put the March 20-30th photos once you download them from your camera? In the 2015-03 folder you made inside the 2015 folder you say? Why that’s 100% correct? You got an A+ on your pop quiz!

Now guess what you get to do? More of the same! Go back through 2014 working your way backward through the past year month by month. Using the full 4-digit year and 02-digit months to name folders, you’ll fill them with your specifically dated digital photos.

Don’t take time to look too closely at your photos, delete doubles or worry about editing at this time. Your only goal is to get them quick-sorted into their date/name folder hierarchy. And try not to stroll down memory lane! Once we get your photos all taken care of, there will be plenty of time to play…trust me!

Go back as far as your time allows. If you didn’t finish in the allotted 15 minutes, try to find another 15-minute session to “file” your digital files in their right file cabinet drawers and hanging folders.

In summary, your DAY 2 DUTIES:

  1. FIND YOUR PICTURES/MY PHOTOS FOLDER & MAKE A 2015 FOLDER (if you didn’t over-achieve yesterday). THEN ADD 3 MORE FOLDERS FOR THE MONTHS (JAN-MAR) INSIDE THE 2015 YEAR ONE.
  2. MOVE ALL JANUARY-MARCH 2015 PICS INTO THEIR NEW FOLDERS.
  3. CREATE A 2014 FOLDER INSIDE THE MAIN “PHOTOS” FOLDER.
  4. NOW MAKE YOUR MONTHLY FOLDERS FOR 2014 & MOVE YOUR PHOTOS INTO THEM. (VIEW YOUR PHOTOS AS A “LIST” & SORT BY DATE TO EASILY SELECT THE BATCHES FOR EACH FOLDER.)
  5. IF YOU STILL HAVE TIME OR ARE FEELING AMBITIOUS, REPEAT THIS “YEAR & MONTHS MAKE & MOVE” PROCESS FOR ALL OTHER YEARS YOU HAVE PHOTOS ON YOUR HARD DRIVE.

attention-303861_1280WHOA WARNING
What if you know you have photo files on your hard drive that are NOT showing the date the photo was taken? Maybe they list the date they were scanned or the date you renamed or edited them once before? If you know the year/month and can quickly move it into the right folder, go for it. If you aren’t sure, leave them loose in the main PICTURES/PHOTOS folder or better yet, create a new sub-folder inside it called 00-DATES (so it will always be at the top of your list) to remind you to investigate at a later date. Ha, we can call it Date-Gate!

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While we’re tackling the marathon of organizing your digital photos, we’re doing it in short sprints of 15-minute work sessions. No need for endurance training to survive the #15in15in2015 program from Photo Organizing Pro!

© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Spring Fling Digital Photo Organizing Challenge Kickoff #15in15in2015 (Day 1: Gather)

Ah, Spring. Or should I say, “Achoo!” Spring?! I’m certainly sneezing a bunch since everything is blooming here in Las Vegas! Hopefully things have started to come up green where you live. If not yet, they will. But today is like a second New Year’s Day of sorts. We can use it as our fresh start. A chance to re-commit to a list of things we want to accomplish. Starting over with a clean slate.

That’s why so many of us tend to tackle cleaning & decluttering projects in our homes this time of year. We crave order, simplicity & calm. Most of us need to do a re-set every six months or so — hence spring & fall cleaning. [Don’t you think it’s a bit odd why no one talks about summer or winter cleaning?!]

Spring Clean Your JPGs

If you’re here, you clearly want to take back control of your digital photo collection by spring cleaning your photos! You’re in the right place because yes, you can. And you will. If you just promise me (& yourself) that you’ll give each daily task at least 15 minutes of your focused effort each day.

Imagine waving a “magic wand” tool over your digital devices, because in 15 days, you’ll be so proud of yourself & your organized, sorted, shared & safely saved digital photos that you’ll be doing the dance of joy, shouting your accomplishment from the mountaintops, & high-fiving everyone you see. [Actual results may vary. Some additional effort may be required.]

JPG JUNK DRAWER
Today’s the day we start to clean out your JPG JUNK DRAWER once & for all! No more excuses! No more “I’ll do it tomorrows!” TODAY!

And not to burst your “happy place” bubble but this is not a lifelong cure. It requires consistent maintenance or you’ll be right back where you are now with an overloaded hard drive, maxxed-out phone storage, file folder chaos, and an inability to find a photo you want in less than an hour (if that). So go into this 15-day challenge knowing that you’ll need to spend about 15 minutes a week (or so) to keep things tidy. That averages out to about 2 minutes a day. About the length of time you’re supposed to brush your teeth so I think you can fit it in to your schedule, no matter how busy. After all, good habits will continue when the system and processes are in place that make it easy on us. This does that for you.

Without further adieu, I welcome you all…but let’s get started with our 15-minute fling!

[AUTHOR ADVICE: I do suggest you read the entire day’s post before starting the steps as I’ve included some helpful info throughout the post that may save you time (or gray hairs) during this process.]

Organize Digital Day 1 Gather

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

MAKE SPACE. While this may seem like a common-sense point, I’m stating the obvious for those of you who did not have it dawn on them earlier. If your hard drive is maxxed out already, you are at greater risk for drive failure, and probably insanity from working on a slower, overloaded machine.

Analyze the available space on your main/primary computer’s hard drive. You’ll need enough room to put (hopefully ALL?) your photos on it first to use as your workspace for organizing and sorting. Then you can safely (& thoroughly) archive them and then confidently delete the files to reclaim more room. Before you start this process, you can take a FEW QUICK minutes to delete files you KNOW you don’t need. Don’t spend hours on it. Or search out hidden files to delete. In fact, if you aren’t 100% sure, DON’T delete! It’s easiest to pull off large videos/movie files and music onto flash drives as a backup or at least a teflash-drive-40301_1280mporary move for the next two weeks as we work through the photo organizing and archiving process.

storage-24914_1280If you absolutely cannot free up enough space on your computer’s hard drive, I recommend using an external hard drive (EHD) for this process. You can buy/find one large enough to hold your entire collection for a rather economical price. Run out to the store right now to buy one. We’ll wait for you. Okay, not really. But if you need to stall your start while you wait for a 2-day delivery of an EHD from Amazon with your Prime membership, just come back here & try to play catch up. Or work at your own pace. No one is really watching. Well, Big Brother, but that’s another blog post! Ha!

DIGITAL = NO PHYSICAL CLUTTER
But you know one really awesome benefit of being in a DIGITAL organizing challenge instead of one dealing with physical print photos? This digital one doesn’t take up ANY extra space outside of your usual existence! Technically, it’s just a bunch of 1s and 0s on your computer’s hard drive, although you mostly see a long list of nonsense filenames like P1057247742.JPG and IMG_8396.JPG and DSCF2705.JPG.

No need to unearth boxes and totes from the basement, attic, garage and Aunt Edna’s house to take up tons of space in your home office or spare bedroom. No need to spread them out all over the kitchen table so you can’t feed the family until you’re done sorting. Or feeling frustrated or rushed when you have to shove them all back in the box in a hurry just to make a meal or do homework. No mess. No rushing. No clutter. No chaos. No upset family members or spouses (at least over the photo organizing mess or clutter anyway!).

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None of this mess for you! We’re only dealing with digital! So if you’ve already scanned your old print photographs, fabulous! Then we can sort & organize them right along with your newer digital snapshots. If not, stay tuned to this blog for future assistance on dealing with prints. Or contact me ASAP for a scanning & sorting quote.

So enjoy the ease of working with digital files vs. print photographs in this way. Does it have disadvantages? Sure, but we’re not going to discuss them because I’m only asking for you to give me 15 minutes for 15 days and I have a no whining policy.

After all, anyone can handle doing something slightly uncomfortable for a 15-minute stretch, right? And it’s only 15 days in a row! Could you keep going after that? Knock yourself out. I may even throw in a couple bonus days at the end, but this isn’t a year-long ordeal or anything. Not even one of those popular 30-day challenges to turn it into a habit. So cowboy up, folks. You can deal.

WHY TAKE PICS?
First let’s touch on why we take photos. Duh, because we don’t want to forget the moments, right? I’d also say because we can. Today, almost every one of us owns a high-end digital camera thanks to our smartphone, except for those few folks with flip phones. (I mean, really, people, why bother?!) Most families also have at least one point-and-shoot pocket camera, if not a fancy-pants DSLR too.

That wasn’t the case “back in the day.” Anyone remember film? With limits of 24 exposures? For you youngsters, it’s why your iPhone stores your pictures in a Camera ROLL, because film from the olden days came rolled in a small canister. Seriously. Google it. And I won’t get into the woes of the world not printing any digital photos but you know it’s a fact. Can you hold up to the screen the last 4×6 you printed so I can see it? Yeah, I don’t see anything but your sheepish, guilty face. Point made.

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These days we’re seeing trends that the “real” camera is often left at home (or even in the closet), leaving our ever-present smartphones to capture our regular daily life & often our major milestone moments as well. After all, we usually have it with us ALL the time — even in the bathroom, which can be a bad thing, and that leads me to my next point.

WHY SAVE PICS?
Why on earth do we need to bother with backing up digital photos? Because, heaven forbid, what if the worst happens?!? Remember the bathroom where we usually bring our phones? In that instant moment of regret with the “pants pulldown backpocket kerplunk” or any other number of digital disasters awaiting our JPGs, such as accidental deletion by the toddler you’re trying to entertain the backseat/church/checkout line (or really anywhere). Or the devices we’ve lost or “left behind” at the park/bar/Walmart (depending on your stage in life).

man-475557_1920Whether it goes for a swim, takes a dunk, gets splashed, or just goes dead into brick mode for no apparent reason when updating, sometimes the tech geeks at the cell phone store can save your digital butt IF you were being backed up by accident (Hallelujah for Big Brother!). Otherwise you’ve now become “A Statistic,” a sob story, and have learned a hard lesson learned about archiving, a.k.a. backing up your butt, formerly called CYA (Google it if you must).

DAY 1: 15-MINUTE “C, D & P” FLING!
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes & ready, set, race! Run like a mad woman (or man) all over the house to GATHER ALL (yes, I mean ALL) digital photos! In whatever way they exist. Yes, I mean allstopwatch-25763_1280. Even the ones from 5 (or more) years ago.

Start with the Cs — every computer, camera, & card (memory). Don’t forget the cables & cords for all those. Now we need the Ds — drives (flash/USB/external) & discs (CD/DVD), even those blank ones you’re not sure about. Last but not least, get the Ps — phones, (i)pads, phablets (or tablets, I just had to be phunny). (I realize that some family members may require a bribe or be asleep before giving up their device for a download session so you might have to schedule your workflow accordingly.)

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HIDDEN HOARDING
Now you see the task before you. Well, technically you can’t SEE the problem because one of the benefits/challenges of digital hoarding is that it’s hidden! We can’t look at our neighbors and “see” if they have a digital photo-hoarding problem. Although chances are quite good that they most definitely do!

Because it’s essentially invisible, we can hide it from others and we can even hide it from ourselves for the most part. Buying flash drives in bulk and stocking up on external hard drives because ours always get full are the only signs of a possible problem.

GUILT-FEAR-REGRET
Don’t even get me started on the crushing feeling of guilt we have for not doing “something” — anything! — with our zillion JPGs! Or the FEAR we have that “something” BAD is going to happen to them before we ever get around to backing them up the way we know we should but never seem to do anyway.

We live on the edge of regret praying we never have that sad tale to share while playing Russian Roulette with our own children’s precious childhood memories and family heritage, knowing that we’re one accidental click, coffee spill, lightning strike, flood, tornado, fire, theft, or [insert other calamity here] away from vaporizing our valuable memories.man-65049_1920

Whew, anyone sweating yet? Heart palpitations? If not, you’re totally UNDER-estimating the seriousness of this situation. I’ve talked to so many mothers who’ve lost their child’s photos and there isn’t anything that can “fix” that. No do overs there. Well, unless you’re these guys but they had the originals for reference.

I-INVENTORY
While you have all this tech hardware handy, take a piece of paper (yes, paper or stone tablet if you want it to last longer) & write down an inventory of these devices just so you know what you have & what you need to check for photos on a consistent basis in the future. (See, I warned you I’d talk about doing this in the future!)

JPGS ON A PC (OR MAC)
On your main computer, locate the PICTURES or MY PICTURES folder. Whether you have a Mac or PC, it’s likely to have one of these already. It’s a good idea to use this file-157955_1280default location as it’s a common sense spot, aptly named & well, there isn’t really a good reason NOT to!

DOWNLOAD/DUMP/TRANSFER
Whatever you want to call it, we can’t do much until you get this step done. Plug in the cable or the memory card to let the computer read the device so you can find the photos and copy/transfer them ALL to the main hard drive. Don’t take the time to judge now. Just dump them into that main PICTURES/PHOTOS folder. Let your software auto-name the folder by the date or whatever it does. We will adjust these later.

Using your Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows), if you search/sort by JPG filetype or name, you’ll likely find all you need. Granted you might end up with a few strange extras from software programs too, but at least you’ll get all of yours. If you find various folders of all kinds of names and labels elsewhere on your hard drive, just throw them all into the PICTURES folder too. Make sure EVERYTHING resides in the same main location. We can rename folders later; it might save you some time if they are already sorted and grouped by topic. A girl can dream can’t she?

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attention-303861_1280WHOA WARNING!
DO NOT DUPLICATE the ones already on your hard drive! Just MOVE them into the right spot. Although you are COPYING the image files from the camera memory cards, phones, flash drives and such onto the main computer hard drive. These will stay on the original device until you choose to delete them. You can do this right afterward if you are confident that your files are already protected in AT LEAST TWO DIFFERENT ways (type/location), which is doubtful unless you’re already a semi-pro at this stuff. Otherwise, you should wait until I advise you to do this later in the series. Once they’ve been sorted and organized, you’ll WANT to delete the other originals as they will only mess you up if you download/transfer them again.

FOLDER FUN
Inside the main PHOTOS/PICTURES folder, create a New Folder named 2015. Please drag (move) everything taken from January 1st to today into here. DO NOT COPY THEM! You don’t want to end up with twice the trouble & half the hard-drive room! Highlight the batch & right-click (or click & drag) to move/send them to this new folder. (Remember you are sorting by the date the photo was taken — not by when it was uploaded!) This is usually called “date created” instead of “date modified.”)

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This is all we’re going to attempt for Day 1! Although I assume a few of you might guess tomorrow’s task & try to jump ahead by making folders for the months. But I’ll bet 95% of you will do it wrong. Trust me. You can wait until I show you the very best way. Relax and know you’ve accomplished enough for your first session & have begun the hardest part of any major task — the first step — starting! You’ve overcome the hugest hurdle of inertia!

In summary, your DAY 1 DUTIES:

  1. ROUND-UP ALL PHOTO-TAKING & -HOLDING DEVICES
    TO MAKE A HIGH-TECH HOME BASE FOR YOUR DIGITAL LIFE.
  2. LOCATE THE MAIN “PHOTOS/PICTURES” FOLDER
    ON YOUR PRIMARY COMPUTER’S HARD DRIVE.
  3. DO A DIGITAL DUMP OF JPGS FROM ALL DEVICES INTO IT
    & MOVE ALL OTHER IMAGES INTO IT AS WELL.

    BONUS: IF YOU STILL HAVE A FEW MINUTES OR ARE FEELING AMBITIOUS,
    MAKE A NEW “2015” FOLDER & MOVE ALL JANUARY/FEBRUARY/MARCH PICS INTO IT.

TALKING TIME LIMITS
clock-452552_1920Obviously, I said you should spend 15 minutes at this task but without knowing how many photos you have — or how many devices, or even how slow your computer might be at transferring them, I’m not 100% sure if this will take a few minutes or a few hours for you. If it’s the latter, let it work and go do other things knowing this is definitely a long overdue task for you.

SAY A PRAYER
No clue if you’re a religious person and this isn’t really meant to be a faith-based point but if you just put ALL your photos on your computer — all your eggs in one basket — it probably goes without saying to be extremely careful and kind to your computer or hard drive. Don’t do any updates/upgrades to software or systems right now. Don’t decide to take the laptop to the beach or work poolside. Don’t drink coffee (or any liquid) next to it — at all — for any reason! Don’t let the kids download new games or play on it. Take every precaution possible until we’ve organized your photos and then safely archived them using at least two methods besides this hard drive. And let this sentence release me from all legal liability should anything happen to any of you really unlucky folks. Til tomorrow when we meet again…same time, same place!

Please share your progress, success or struggles in the comments section below. You may also ask any questions there if you believe my answer could benefit others, or email me directly [ask (at) photo organizing pro dot com] if you have a more-specific request. 

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© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tis the Season for Spring Cleaning Your JPGs

Spring holds such promise, doesn’t it? Fresh air + fresh flowers = fresh perspective. Time to sweep out the dust of winter’s doldrums & make room for what you love. It’s like a second shot at New Year’s resolutions, right? In case you didn’t get some (okay, almost all) of your grand plans for 2015 going yet, you have another chance to kick it into gear with this hopeful season called “Spring Cleaning!”

All across the globe, people are dreaming up ambitious plans to clean, clear & declutter all their closets, drawers, cupboards, basements, attics, garages, home offices, hobby rooms, [insert any other space that has crossed the line from “lived in” to “can’t live in much longer.”]

Dusting DivaSpring and fall seem to motivate us with a seasonal kick in the pants to clean & declutter our homes, vehicles, offices, our whole lives! Maybe it’s the transition to/from Daylight Savings Time in most U.S. states that initiates this urge. After all, we were taught to change the batteries in our smoke detectors when we change our clocks, right? (Show of hands for who has that “knowledge” since early adulthood?) Apparently a seasonal cleaning phase is also an automatic response.

Sadly, the one item that tends to get overloooked in most spring cleaning sessions — or at least put on the “later” list — is your computer. Of course, in today’s digital-diva/dude world, I’d expand that to computerS (plural), plus add mobile phones (smart ones), tablets, and of course, cameras.

Don't trash your whole computer!
To spring clean digitally, you don’t have to trash the whole laptop! I give you permission (no, I’m giving you a command!) to DELETE SOME of the photo files on your hard drive, and ARCHIVE ALL your best JPGs for safe-keeping. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater…that sure is a creepy historical idiom, isn’t it?

Amazingly, we don’t often think of “spring cleaning” our digital files & photos, yet many of us spend the majority of our days/nights using all these digital devices. Why we worry more about our shoe storage or silverware drawer before we deal with sorting, saving & sharing our photos properly, I just can’t comprehend. But if you’re here, you’re a big step ahead of the rest of the planet so a round of applause for you!

Most of us, minus those of you with an Imelda Marcos-ish shoe collection, would grab our computer (or other device) that holds our digital photos LONG before we’d run back into our burning home for a pair of Jimmy Choos. Okay, I don’t actually own a pair of these so maybe I’m off base. But the point is…our digital photos are usually considered our most cherished possessions on the planet, yet we don’t treat them that way!

That has to stop! Seriously. Make a commitment TODAY to use this “spring cleaning season” to tackle your photo files on your computers & other digital devices. I saw that eye roll, missy! I heard those collective sighs. I know it’s a chore. So is cleaning out your junk drawer but this task is so much more rewarding (unless you happen to find an un-cashed check in your junk drawer, then that might win!).

Click here to start! Organize Your Digital Photos in 15 Minutes in 15 Days in 2015! #15in15in2015 I’m serious. It’s possible. But you have to start & do a little (like 15 minutes!) every day for 15 days. Repeat after me: I can do this! I can organize my digital photos thanks to PhotoOrganizingPro.com!

Lucky for you, I’ve created a 15-day how-to guide for organizing your digital photos! [Insert rousing rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” here.] Even better than it being just 15 days long? It should only take you about 15 MINUTES A DAY!?! Okay, these are estimates & I can’t judge your JPG junk drawer from here but if you commit to at least 15 solid minutes each day for 15 straight days, you will feel like a SUPERHERO & will have accomplished a ton!

Imagine kicking off your #15in15in2015 plan of attack on FRIDAY March 20th, the First Day of Spring. That means just 15 days later — on April 3rd, you’ll be doing the dance of joy knowing your JPGs are sorted, organized, shared & saved (in several ways & safely archived in multiple places)! Best of all, you’ll have a system all set up for maintaining it with every single photo you take from now on! Isn’t that worth the “investment” of 15 minutes (or so) a day for 15 days?! [Ignore the image below that says Thursday…stock photo from a past year…it’s FRIDAY FOR 2015!]

1st Day of Spring
Please don’t fill my comments telling me that the 1st Day of Spring is FRIDAY March 20th this year. I did realize that but liked this stock photo & didn’t bother changing it. Plus I blame Daylight Savings Time for making me miss this fact when I first picked the picture! Ha!


JPG Junk DrawerJPG JUNK DRAWER
Do you have one of these? I’ll bet you do! No shame in admitting it. I’ve yet to find a home without a junk drawer & I highly doubt that you don’t have a mixed-up mess of JPGs that you’d love to have sorted & organized nicely & neatly.

We want to do this because when you want to go find a certain photo, you’ll know right where it will be & can post that #ThrowbackThursday pic to embarrass family & friends (or yourself!). You can show your kids their baby pics — maybe on both a digital device AND in print in some fashion…4×6 prints, scrapbook pages, custom photobooks, canvas prints or other photo-gift.

While your JPGs aren’t a “physical” mess taking up space in the traditional sense of the word “clutter,” their digital presence can hog up “space” on your hard drive, phones and tablets. Just like you sort out the various “junk” items in your junk drawer to group like items together & put them in special “containers” to best hold them for easy access, so also are you going to do that with your digital photo files. Sort & organize photos into folders by date and event/theme, with captions & tags to easily identify images for faster finding when searching.

That said, the primary point of all this effort is to preserve the stories behind the photos! That’s what really matters most. You’re not doing this for your own benefit — you’re doing it for the sake of your children, their children and their children of generations to come who will be fascinated by your photos, but will need the stories that go with them to truly appreciate all your preserved photos.
Delete Key

DUST OFF THE DELETE KEY
That’s right, this is the secret to saving your sanity! Drowning in JPGs? Time to be selective. For starters, delete the duds and duplicates. You can. I give you permission!

I’m not asking you to throw out the ones of your kids taking their first steps…or of your grandparents who are no longer with us…or new puppy who now looks a lot bigger. I’m asking you to ditch the ones with a finger in the way, the accidental foot in the parking lot shot, the really blurry sports shots that can’t be salvaged by even the best Photoshop wizards, the unflattering shots of your loved ones (you can keep the ones of your enemies for ammo). Just kidding!

This is just a small taste of the 15-day plan to get your digital photos organized once & for all! Ready to start today? Click here for the Day 1 post & begin your JPG journey.

Need a little more time to get your head around this goal before you commit & kick it off? Check back here on the First Day of Spring (Friday, March 20th) for our official Spring Fling launch session! (Be sure to follow this blog to stay up-to-date with new how-to tips!)

What is your biggest challenge in organizing digital photos? What would you do if you suddenly lost all your digital photos? Has that ever happened to you (or someone you know)? Let me know in the comments below!

© Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brenda Kruse and PhotoOrganizingPro.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.