DAY 8: ORGANIZE YOUR DIGITAL PHOTOS IN JUST 15 MINUTES IN 15 DAYS IN 2015 (#15IN15IN2015)

Wow, we’ve done a lot of work so far! It’s only been a week of daily 15-minute tasks, but you’ve put all your digital photos in one place, sorted them into organized, labeled folders, deleted the duds, picked our “star” favorites, added captions, tagged with keywords, and added geographic location reference to photos. Sheesh! Nice work! To reward your hard work to date, today’s post will be a little more fun! We’re going to play with PEOPLE! Mess with faces!

Some photo organizers insist you should delete MOST of the photos in your collection that do NOT have people in them. I’m not that crazy as I love my scenery pics too but I realize that the ones I want to be sure I save are the ones with my family in them. If I lost some images of an ocean sunset or cloudy skies, I wouldn’t be as upset as if I lost the ones of my kids with their great-grandparents, for example. Keeping things in perspective is important with photo organization!

FACE THE MUSIC
Think about it. What are a few of your all-time favorite photos you truly cherish? Are they scenic landscapes or ones with people’s faces in them? Typically, our loved ones are what make the photos more meaningful. That’s why Picasa’s PEOPLE library with facial recognition technology is so incredible!

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One of my fave photos is a candid I snapped at my sister’s wedding of my grandma, my kids & my dad — all looking fancy & happy!

When you first start with Picasa and it goes to find all your images in your PICTURES folder, it can scan for faces and will ask you to identify them. Under a zoomed-in “found face” pic, click the “Add a name” white caption box underneath. Type in a name. If it’s new, it will pop up a PEOPLE box asking you a few more details. Click NEW PERSON & fill in the other details as you wish. Now Picasa will magically scan your photo collection to find that face and associate it with that person’s name! All by itself!

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Granted, sometimes it needs some assistance. You’ll have an “Unnamed” folder at the top of the PEOPLE section, waiting for you to identify them. However, once you’ve taught it the person’s name, it will often pop up in a drop-down list when you go to “Add a name.” Simply select the right one or start to type the name and it can auto-fill fast too!

TIP: Be sure the first few photos you identify with a name are clear, focused, front-view photos. This will assist Picasa in accurately locating the others that best match. If you identify a blurry or dark photo with a name tag, you may end up with more mistakes in the suggestions as Picasa is trying to use this somewhat faulty photo as its reference point. 

Picasa sorts all your faces into “albums” it lists on the left under the PEOPLE library. These are NOT duplicates of your photos — they are simply pointing TO the existing file on your hard drive, in whatever folder you have it.

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IGNORE PEOPLE

Here’s one place where it’s perfectly acceptable to IGNORE PEOPLE! Picasa knows you’ll have some group photos where it will find faces that you don’t need to identify. Simply select those and choose “ignore selected” to have it learn those people don’t matter. Well, maybe that’s a bit harsh but it knows that you don’t care to see them called out in the FACES feature. If you choose to change your mind, you can “show ignored faces” and go back to give them a legit label or name tag as needed.

This is often where other people you occasionally photograph will go. Unless you will need to search and find a photo of them specifically in the future, they don’t really need a PEOPLE tag. Save these for your primary faces of immediate and extended family. Maybe leave the kids’ friends un-named for now. It’s up to you and may depend on how many photos you’ve taken of this person — and how many pictures you may take of them in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.02.17 PMMUG SHOTS
Find your favorite shot of each person in their album. Right-click on it and select “set as people album thumbnail.” Or use the top people menu with the icon on the far right. Change this pic as often as you wish!

CONFIRM FACES
As Picasa begins to learn that person’s face, it will find some matches it calls “suggestions” and ask you to confirm if these truly are this person or not. In the PEOPLE panel on the left, if you see an orange question mark after their name, it means Picasa has something to ask you about. Click on it to open their “folder” of faces. Near the end of their faces will be the suggestions. Or you can click the “show only suggestions” toggle at the top.

You can either click them one at a time with the green checkmark or red x, but if they are all that person, click the CONFIRM ALL button at the top! Done!

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However, don’t get depressed if Picasa instantly plops another batch of suggestions in that spot! It used the details it learned from the ones you confirmed to find a few more that are similar and wants to make sure it’s correct.

Sometimes, it drops in a face of someone else by mistake. Simply click the red X to remove it from this person’s folder. It doesn’t delete the pic — just puts it in another person’s suggestions file instead.

ZOOMED IN OR OUT
Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 11.18.55 PMYou may be wondering how you had all these close-ups of people’s faces when you don’t remember shooting them. They aren’t close-ups at all! Picasa is just zooming in to show you the specific face, so it’s easier for you to identify. The two tiny icons in the upper right corner of the middle section give you the option to see them “zoomed in to the faces” (shown on left below) or “zoomed out to the full picture” (shown on right below).

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This comes in handy when you are looking for a specific picture of a certain person! After you think you found it by their face, you can click to zoom out to see the whole picture. Although you can always double-click any zoomed-in face to open the full photo in the editor window. In the dark gray bar underneath, you can see the exact filename path location for this photo, along with other details, and your caption, of course.

AMAZINGLY ACCURATE
I have been stunned at Picasa’s ability to figure out faces, even ones from infant to adult. It can tell that person even with varying hair styles and when the person doesn’t normally wear glasses. It often recognizes them even when wearing a costume or crazy hair or hat. And it finds them even in a very dark under-exposed or poor-quality blurry photo.

I’ve even seen it pick out the face of a person who was simply in a framed photo on a shelf somewhere in the main photo!?! Because of this, you may see a few strangers in your photo collection. Do not be alarmed. Often these are from group settings at a public event, or even a face from packaging on a Christmas gift! Of course, I haven’t tested this out on identical twins yet. I’m sure that could be a challenge for it!

ALSO PICTURED
Once you’ve helped Picasa figure out all the faces in all your photos, you’ll be able to see at a glance who is in each photo, and find the perfect photo of someone without remembering when it was taken! How handy is that?! Hover your mouse over a face in a photo and it will tell you who it is. Or when you are viewing a photo, the right column People Panel will identify them.

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FUNNY FACES: Once in a while, Picasa finds a face in a photo that isn’t really intended to be a face. Well, not of a person anyway!

PEOPLE FINDER
An almost-hidden (yet magic) way to find several faces in one photo…say you want to find a picture of you with your dad AND your grandma. First, click on the PEOPLE LIBRARY and choose your own folder. Now click on the “people” icon in the lower right corner to open the PEOPLE panel that will show who else is in those photos. Click on the tag of your dad. This will instantly sort your photos to show only the ones with BOTH you and your dad in them.

To add the third level of sorting for finding the photos with you, your dad and your grandma…CTRL (PC) or CMD (MAC)-click on your grandma’s name tag. It will locate the photo(s) of the three of you. Just. Like. That! Sure beats scanning faces or guessing dates or even typing in tags and captions for searching. See how fun this is? To revert to regular view, just click the green “back to view all” button to try a new double-duty search.

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PEOPLE MANAGER
No Master’s Degree needed! You too can manage people. Under Picasa’s TOOLS menu, choose PEOPLE MANAGER. A window pops up to let you see who you have photographed, and interestingly, how many pics you have of them! Since Picasa is integrated with Google, you have other options for managing contacts and syncing too.

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TURN OFF FACE FINDING
Some people don’t like that Picasa keeps working in the background to search and sync faces from the photos in your folders. Although you can determine in the TOOLS/FOLDER MANAGER menu exactly which folders should be searched, synced and watched. If you’d rather just turn it off entirely, scroll up to your main folder in the folder list on the lefthand side of the Folder Manager and deselect “Face Detection on” and click OK.

DAY 8: 2/6/15: 15 MINUTES. FUN WITH FACES! 

Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open Picasa. Go to the UNNAMED folder under PEOPLE on the left column and start assigning name tags and confirming suggestions. Once you’ve identified (or ignored) all the faces in your photo collection, you can have the ultimate fun of this feature — creating a Face Movie!

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This creates a highlight reel of your photos focused on a single face, which is held in one position while the rest of the image changes. The result is impressive as your child grows up before your eyes in a matter of minutes. It randomly selects photos in chronological order and layers them so it creates a unique “morphing” effect of the face over time. You can edit the photos chosen, the order they’re in, add in slides, modify transitions, include a music track and much more. Then save it and even upload it to YouTube if you’d like. Way. Cool.

In summary, your DAY 8 DUTIES:

  1. OPEN PICASA & VIEW YOUR “UNNAMED” PEOPLE FOLDER. 
  2. IDENTIFY OR IGNORE ALL PEOPLE SHOWN, CREATING NEW NAME TAGS AS YOU WISH.
  3. CONFIRM SUGGESTIONS FOR PEOPLE AS THEY POP UP.
  4. TRY OUT SEARCHING FOR 2-3 NAMES IN A SINGLE PHOTO.
  5. PLAY AROUND & CREATE A FACE MOVIE JUST FOR FUN!
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The suggestion & cluster threshold sliders are Picasa’s level of effort in facial recognition accuracy. By default, these are both set at 80 but changing them to 85 limits the false positives.

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WHOA WARNING
As much as I find the PEOPLE facial recognition part of Picasa fascinating and helpful, I did learn thatthe “name tags” it generates are saved only within Picasa by default. However, you can — and should — opt to have them added to the XMP metadata section of your images. You first have to open PREFERENCES under the far NAME TAGS tab to check ON enable face detection, enable suggestions and store name tags in photo.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 4.54.53 PMHowever, I found out that this does not go back to record all the ones you’ve already done; it will only affect the ones you will do from now on! So it is critical that you finish this step by going under the TOOLS menu, EXPERIMENTAL, then choose the last one “Write faces to XMP.” It opens a new window asking you to write all or write faces or write selected. Depending on your selection, this may take a while so it may be best to leave your computer to do this while you go to sleep or leave for a while.

clock-452552_1920TALKING TIME LIMITS
Unlike some of our earlier tasks, this is a relatively low-brainpower one that can be done while watching TV. It may take a while if you have many photos in your collection and this is your first time assigning name tags. But once you’ve caught up, it will be an easy, nearly effortless process. Then you’ll only need to stay on top of the new uploads and suggestions to always have instant access to finding the faces you love in the photos you have!

© 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.

Day 3: Organize Your Digital Photos in Just 15 Minutes in 15 Days in 2015 (#15in15in2015)

Woohoo! It’s February 1st! A new month! We made it through the first month of 2015 already. Now it’s time to get serious about your goals and resolutions. I mean the ones you can actually accomplish — not that crazy long list you ambitiously wrote out while drinking wine on New Year’s Eve in your PJs.

If organizing your digital photos was NOT on that list, I’m begging you to put it on there. Now. Because honestly, you’re already on Day 3 of a 15-day plan that will show you the way to catch up on the overwhelming backlog and set the stage for managing the click-happy quota each month. You got this! You could even cross it off the list by Valentine’s Day!

Technically, you should wait until New Year’s Eve to see if you kept it up for the next 11 months but I suppose you could just do another #15in15in2015 at year-end to pull a major catch-up and still heroically achieve this goal. Not ideal but better than where you are today, right? Just keepin’ it real.

love-47952_1280What’s your vision for Valentine’s Day? I don’t want to hear about your romantic date plans (or lack thereof)! I’m talking about 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? Think about it for a few minutes.

Visualize with me…it’s Thursday, February 19th. Your digital photos are now all organized so when everyone starts posting their #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 #tbts or #FlashbackFridays. You’ll be able to quickly locate any other “antique” JPG someone asks about. You 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
We’ve gathered all your digital photo files into one hard drive. We’ve put them all into one main folder. We’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.

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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 basketbahome-office-336581_1280ll 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.

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: 2/1/15: 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 JANUARY 2015 PHOTO FOLDER 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. Here’s what happens when you have too much free time to play around on Pinterest, for example. Click on the pic below to see the snack-stadium photo larger on Pinterest!

SUPER BOWL
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 Day of the Big Game. That means you can either do your 15 minutes BEFORE THE GAME starts, DURING THE GAME if you’re not a fan of either team (or the sport itself – gasp!), or DURING HALFTIME if you don’t mind missing the entertainment and a few commercials. In fact, if 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.

Day 1: Organize Your Digital Photos in just 15 Minutes in 15 Days in 2015 (#15in15in2015)

Happy birthday to me! No seriously, today is my anniversary of another batch of birthday-cake photo opps! I thought it’d be fun date to kick off my new PhotoOrganizingPro blog & my new mini series (#15in15in2015). Another reason to eat cake & say cheers with a raised glass, right?

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My 1st birthday cake photo opp! I look pretty mesmerized by the candle. Imagine how much I’d stare at all the light from 43 candles?!

Truth be told, the timing is also tied to January’s ambitious New Year’s resolutions & National Get Organized Month. Although I delayed it near the very end, after your overly ambitious rose-colored glasses view of other resolutions has been dimmed by reality & you’ve already skipped some days at the gym, yelled at the kids & ordered take-out instead of using your crockpot once a week.

Because what I’m proposing may only start with 15 minutes over 15 days to organize your digital photos, but managing your digital life is a LIFELONG HABIT! Before you roll your eyes & think you’ve accidentally landed on another “eat kale daily” smoothie blog, I’ll drop the preaching & get into the good stuff. But I’m not kidding that you’ll have to do a little upkeep on a regular basis…otherwise you’ll need to do my #15in15in2015 program a couple times this year. You over-achiever, you.

Despite the fact that today is MY birthday, I’m not just letting you all eat cake & do nothing hard. That comes at the END of the 15 days — yes, by Valentine’s Day you are enjoying the sweet taste of success knowing your JPGs are in order!

Imagine celebrating with your favorite splurge chocolate treats without a second thought of guilt because all your photos are finally off your phones and cameras at long last, and actually sorted into organized, labeled folders that are even backed up. Shut the front door. And pass me the sea salt & caramel seahorse-shaped Godiva please.

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Come Valentine’s Day, I give you permission to enjoy all the chocolate you can eat as a reward for getting your digital photos organized!

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. You’ll have to make a few adjustments to my steps along the way but you should be just fine. And you’ll already have an external backup done. Well, sort of.

DIGITAL = NO PHYSICAL CLUTTER
But you know one really awesome benefit of being in a DIGITAL organizing class 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 a 30-day commitment. 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? Yeah, I don’t see anything. 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: 1/30/15: 15 MINUTES!
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.

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. 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 folder, create a New Folder named 2015. If you already have any photos taken during January 2015 on your computer, please drag (move) them 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.

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Isn’t it convenient that I timed this so that most of your first month’s photos are already shot and ready to be downloaded into the 2015 folder? I’m sneaky smart like that. Now you’ll maybe have just a few more photos from today (30th) and tomorrow (31st) to transfer in and you’ll be ready to pull all these into their own January folder inside the 2015 folder.

However, 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 a “January” folder. 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” 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 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. 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 you unlucky folks. Til tomorrow…photos-315170_1280

© 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.

Happy Birthday and Happy Blog Birthday to me!

happy birthday

That’s right! I’m launching a blog on my birthday today! It’s like giving myself a gift! And with the incredible content on how to organize your digital photos that I plan to give you over the next 15 days, you’re getting an amazing gift too! At the end of these next two weeks together, it’ll be Valentine’s Day (February 14th) so let’s plan to celebrate your sweet success of organized digital photos by eating chocolate cake! Deal?

In the spirit of full honesty, I must confess that I will likely have my cake and eat it today too. After all, it would be sacrilegious not to enjoy a candle-adorned treat on your special day! Personally I’m more of a salty than sweet snack person, and if I go with sweet, it’d be a slightly warm fudgy brownie over a cake with frosting any day of the year. However, I feel obligated for the annual tradition, especially for the sake of my kids who get a kick out of the whole schtick. So just know I’ll be choking down a small chunk of cake sometime today. But in two weeks, I’m leaving all the cake for YOU and I’m sticking to a pan of brownies, k?

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Let’s eat cake to celebrate! Especially in 15 days when your digital photos are organized!

In the past, I’ve blogged briefly for other specific situations (like when Oprah called me —no, REALLY, she DID!), but not consistently on a regular basis. (I’m sure every blogger says that but I do mean something slightly different schedule-wise.)

Although this may not end up being my “regular” blog home either, it’s going to serve as my initial kick-off because I have a digital photo organizing mini-series program I’m excited to launch. And I’ve been talking about re-starting my blogging efforts for far too long. So today — my birthday — is the day!

Granted, it’s probably not the wisest idea to attempt learning a new blogging platform like advanced WordPress from scratch at the same time as you set out to release a daily blog for the next two weeks…but I’m just going for it! I’ll learn a lot along the way so bear with me and be forgiving as this part is uncharted territory. And I’m under deadline! Here we go…who’s with me? Let’s jump in…I hear the water’s warm!

waterfall-jump

 

© 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.