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.”]
Spring 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.
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!).
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!]
JPG 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.
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!
Back-em up, buttercup! Today we’re talking about the only way you can truly save your photos. Think about all the forward progress you made over the past 9 days. Feels pretty awesome, doesn’t it?
Now imagine all those sorted, named, labeled, captioned, starred, tagged, face identified, album-arranged photos disappearing in the blink of an eye. GONE! One second and all your effort is vaporized. Hurts, huh?
My goal is to help you avoid the agony of regret by proactively preserving your pictures.To do that, you need to back them up. Sure, you say, duh, I knew that. Oh yeah, well how many of you have actually done it? On a regular basis? With 3 copies in 2 different formats with one being off-site? Yeah, I thought so. Feeling a bit inadequate right now? That’s okay. You’re not alone at all. But we don’t want you to be sob story of what happens when your computer crashes, hard drive fails, tornado wipes out your whole house, or the kids accidentally spill a can of soda over your laptop.
They’re called accidents because they aren’t planned. But you CAN plan on being prepared by taking the steps today to (finally!) get your photos (& other files if you wish) archived.
You must have an archival strategy. This includes not only the choice of media and location of storage solutions, but also the schedule or system for performing regular, routine backups beyond this initial archive of your photo collection.
Would you believe that today’s “Digital Generation” is in danger of losing everything? Their entire life history in photos? While they may be the most photographed generation, they are at risk to have no pictures in a decade? One photographer wrote a thought-provoking blog about this growing problem. He feels that most of what we shoot today isn’t really important enough to print. Or save. So sad. Hope that’s not the case — and it must not be if you’re here bothering to read this & do my daily steps for 15 days to get organized!
PHYSICAL BACKUPS CAN’T BE BEAT First of all, let me state what should be obvious…your computer hard drive where you just organized all your digital pictures is NOT a backup. That’s the home of your originals. A backup must be a second (or third or fourth) copy of your files. By the way, Facebook is NOT a backup! (I’ll talk more about that next when I cover DIGITAL backups.)
Consider the life expectancy of your media choice. If something has an average life span of 5 years, that means HALF of those devices will fail before that! Here in Vegas, we call that “the roll of the dice!” Can you easily make another copy of your media? Can you easily update your backup to add in your newer files? Can you be sure that technology will be around 5 years from now?
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES
One easy physical way to back up all your photos from your computer hard drive is to use an external hard drive, or EHD. This is like a second computer (minus the operating system & such) so it makes sense to copy your photos onto it.
With the price of EHDs dropping and the capacity rising, you can find a huge terabyte hard drive for less than $70. That’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind and safekeeping of your entire digital photo collection, especially if you consider at least a few of those shots to be pretty priceless!
Most of them simply plug in via USB to your computer, making it fairly simply to copy the files over. And should the need arise, you can easily restore your photos from that EHD backup to a new computer if that’s the case. (Congrats on the new hardware, by the way! I’m jelly! That’s jealous, for you non-hipster lingo peeps!)
Portable hard drives are an ideal peripheral product because they don’t require external power, are small enough to carry conveniently, and work with multiple computers for file sharing/syncing. Most models come with backup software to ensure automatically scheduled backups and file syncing in a compact, phone-sized package. Granted, the smaller they are, they easier they are to lose, or drop — both of which will ruin your backup strategy!
I own numerous external hard drives. My first ones were larger and required a power source. My most-recent ones are thin, tiny and only need USB power. Surprisingly, the smaller ones hold more photos and cost much less than the earlier editions!
The other problem is that some 90% of EHDs will fail. Typically within the five years of life. With. No. Warning. Could be 6 months in, or 2.5 years or 4-plus years. Since you don’t know when it will one day croak, you can’t simply depend on just this backup either. And you have to plan to upgrade your EHDs every couple years. Kind of like trading in your car/phone/computer for a newer, updated model.
By all means, use an EHD, but with caution and care, realizing their days are numbered and you’ll never know when its death will suddenly cost you all of your priceless digital photos. Better yet, get two of them and rotate them every so often, keeping one drive off-site. I’ll talk more about this in a bit.
You might be lured into thinking a simple USB flash/thumb drive can solve all your problems as a small, economical backup source. And you might be just fine. In fact, some research shows that these are often a very stable storage device with a life expectancy of 5 to 8 years, slightly longer than optical media like the standard DVD.
Until, that is, the USB drive gets lost because it’s so tiny and portable. Or left in a pocket that goes through the washing machine. Or splashed by a spill of coffee or water. In other words, these tiny backups are the ultimate in convenience, but they can also be damaged or lost, effectively deleting all your photos. So this isn’t the only option you should use as a backup either.
OPTICAL MEDIA OPTIONS If you don’t have a zillion (or so) photos to back-up, you might be able to back them up to optical media such as a CD or DVD. These media are often extremely economical and easy to burn from your computer hard drive. My suggestion is to stick to DVD for the greater file capacity as it holds 4.7GB vs. 700MB on a CD. I’m sure you have more than 700MB of photos. Otherwise you are crazy…go take more pictures! Now! The next step beyond DVD is the Blu-Ray disc that can hold up to 50GB on a dual-layer disc. That’s about 10 standard DVDs or 70 recordable CDs! And there’s talk of even larger capacity discs on the horizon — one company is offering a 100GB version any day now!
THE GOLD STANDARD
When it comes to DVDs, there are plenty of cheap, department-store brands sold in bulk. That said, there are also more-expensive options that are expressly made for archiving. These are often called “gold” DVDs, but the color isn’t the only way you can tell. Usually a premium price tag buys you greater peace of mind that the media will not fail as easily or as soon. Of course, most of them don’t offer a warranty or refund if it does before their advertised life expectancy. And even if they did, it doesn’t mean you get your photos back — just some cash back, which may help you buy file recovery software to try to rescue your lost JPGs. For the sake of today, I’ll keep this positive!
Most DVDs burn data into an organic dye layer that begins to degrade and fade right away, leading to “data rot.” In fact, the National Archives warns that the shelf life of a standard recordable DVD may be as short as 2 years, although a general estimate is 3-7 years on average.
A Delkin Archival Gold DVD is advertised to last 100 years, while their 25GB Blu-Ray version is promoted with a 200-year life expectancy! According to their website, “Archival Gold is the only storage medium guaranteed 100% uneditable, inerasable and tested to endure up to 200 years, based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology.” Now that’s a few generations worth!
Verbatim claims to be the “Number 1 Optical Brand in the World” as it sells a full-line of discs, including UltraLife™ Archival Grade Gold DVDs for 100-year life. It also offers a Photo DVD-R product specifically for archiving photos. It uses patented AZO™ technology to secure the original quality of the digital image, plus a Crystal coating applied to protect the recording layer and label surface from data-damaging scratches.
SET IN STONE
When it comes to archival, stone scribbles have stood the test of time for the most part. Just like cavemen scribed their lives on the walls of their cave, the M-Disc actually etches your data onto a stone-type surface, offering what the company promotes as 1,000-year storage solution. Now that’s what I call long term! I’m a big fan of the M-Disc product line but it does require a compatible drive to burn them so read all about them on their website. Or click the image of the 15-pack spindle below to buy them (& the external drive) on Amazon!
R+ OR R- BUT NOT RW
Whether you go with DVD-R or DVD+R depends on your computer and DVD drive. However, it should go without saying not to choose RW discs but if you don’t pay attention, you might end up with a spindle of these. While they are great for storing documents you need to temporarily access and transport, they are terrible for long-term archival storage because they can easily (albeit accidentally) be written over. Does anyone remember the long-ago days of the lowly VCR tape when you’d discover you taped over something else you wanted to keep? Argh! Choose DVD-R or DVD+R only.
OFF-LABEL USE While I’m a big fan of labeling your backup discs, please be very careful with anything that goes ON the actual disc. You’re better off printing something that goes on the case and using a basic Sharpie pen to identify the contents of the disc. I’ve heard far too many horror stories of paper sticker labels that get ripped up and caught inside your computer’s disc drive, ruining both at once!
Now there are inkjet printable discs that eliminate the potential paper problems of earlier options. Look for this option when purchasing your DVDs. You can design a printed “label” for each DVD that includes a representative photo (or collage), and any text and dates to help identify the photos included on it.
PRINT FILE WINDOW
One thing you’ll want to do besides labeling your actual DVD is printing out the file directory list of what’s on it. To do this, you can use the PRINT SCREEN, PASTE & PRINT process in Windows. Or you can run a command to generate a list.txt file for editing later using these step-by-step directions.
On a Mac, it used to be as easy as choosing the Print Window option from the menu bar before OSX came to be. Since then, it requires some jumping through hoops or taking a screen shot to paste into something else so you can print it.
Or you could try out a nifty software app aptly named Print Window that lets you control which folders/files to expand and print, plus adjust the font and size. It has auto-format options for fitting onto a CD jewel case or DVD box case. You can even make a photo proof contact sheet showing thumbnails of all your images! How handy would that be? I’m sold on this idea but will have to try out the free version. The full version is $20 but if it helps me print files & folders for all my archives, including contact sheets of all my images, it would be well worth it. Of course, printing these in color will be rather costly ink-wise, especially if you have as many images as I do. Saving them as a PDF you can open and reference at any time probably makes more sense than a full physical copy.
Better yet, Picasa has a built-in feature to print a contact sheet from a folder. Simply select a certain folder first, then click the FOLDER menu to choose “Print Contact Sheet..” and you’ll see them nicely organized by thumbnails with the album name and date. You’ll have an option to either “shrink to fit” or “crop to fit” the pics into the thumbnails. Click on the other choice to see your options & pick a fave. I noticed it rotates any vertical photos sideways, probably to show enough of the image, although it still bothers me a bit.
Any archival solution runs the risk of data corruption, transfer failure or device death/obsolescence. Some experts say you should regularly check your data source by “running” it once in a while to actively seek and open a few files. That way, if you start to see any fishy behavior, you might be able to salvage the majority of your data before the whole thing blows. For your long-term archival storage, the pros suggest occasional testing of the data once every 6 months and migrating to a newer (or just different) media source every 3-5 years.
Aside from the obvious advice about putting the cap back on USB thumb drives, you’ll need to keep CDs/DVDs in their cases, and carefully handling them by their edges only to avoid fingerprints and scratches.
Don’t forget about storage solutions to keep your special backup disks safe from scratches, extreme temperature swings, dust, and such. Careful handling and using the case is a start. If you end up with a large collection of discs, you’ll need to find a way to store them.
To be literal, I suppose you could keep them in a fireproof, theft-proof safe in your home. Or better yet, at the bank in a safe deposit box, which gets you the ultimate in protection as well as off-site benefits.
However, you can just keep the cased discs in a cool, dark, dry space, such as your a shelf in your bedroom closet, in a dresser drawer or in a box under a bed.
Do NOT keep optical discs in the garage, basement or attic, as the extreme temperature swings and humidity will degrade the data. Ideally, your data archives need to be kept in a space that’s heated and cooled, depending on your location and season, as well as one that handles humidity. That’s why an off-site storage space won’t work unless it’s an indoor one that’s climate-controlled.
To avoid heat, cold, humidity, dust, debris, scratches, fingerprints, or sunlight, please do NOT store optical discs or delicate drives inside your vehicle, kids’ rooms, bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, outdoor storage shed, shoebox buried in the yard, etc. Try to keep them away from water, dust, bright sunlight, harsh surfaces, kids, and extreme temps.
I can’t talk about physical backups without mentioning the lowly photo print! Remember these? Back in the days of film, everyone HAD to print their pictures just to see what you shot. Now it seems like if we’ve “seen” it in our camera or phone, we don’t even bother getting a physical copy to hold. And that’s a crying shame!
Should you (or could you) print ALL of your digital photos? Probably not. I know I couldn’t. I wouldn’t want to pay for all those prints, no matter what the sale offer. Let alone the shipping cost. I also don’t want to pile up a zillion (that’s about how many I have) photo prints that I would then have to sort, organize, label, and store somehow.
It just doesn’t make sense to turn an all-digital collection into a physical prints one, as that has its own issues with space, clutter, and safe-keeping, of course. How many of you have had a toddler tear/Sharpie/crumple/etc a printed photo? So that’s not the only solution either.
But you SHOULD print SOME (or all) of your STARS! If all else failed, and I mean your digital backups on hard drives, thumb drives, DVDs, and such, you’d still have printed copies of your most prized photos. And those can be scanned into digital files again if absolutely necessary. At that point, your slight quality degradation from losing an iteration of your image will be the least of your worries. If this sentence didn’t make much sense to you, that’s okay. It’s just pointing out the fact that a copy of a copy is never as nice as the original. If you’ve ever tried to photocopy a crappy photocopy, you know what I mean. It doesn’t get better, that’s for sure!
I’m not going to analyze or advise on WHO/WHERE to get photo prints made, but I can tell you that the quality and service you’ll get from a local photo retailer (real store run by photo experts) will always outperform any online option or discount department store. You can Google side-by-side comparisons of quality (paper and color and clarity) for about any mainstream service on the market. You do want the colors to be true and sharp. And if the paper isn’t archival-quality, it won’t last as long as it should, defeating the point of having it as a backup to your backups. But if you aren’t prepared to handle the prints when they come into your home, you’ll soon be looking for blogs on how to organize prints. What’s that you say? You already have that problem too? No worries. I’ll be covering that soon but this is my primary concern — and should be yours too!
But the primary point for printing your photos is to ENJOY them, share them and show them off. Put them in frames around your home and office. Don’t let them be held hostage on your hard drive! Or be an unknown entity on a shiny circular DVD. Let them come to life in your own life!
I’ll talk more about ideas for printing beyond the basic 4×6 photo print but if you do nothing else, printing your starred favorites and putting them out to be seen and shared will still be considered a victory!
GET IN THE GROOVEBOOK I’ve become a fan of the Groovebook app, which was recently bought out by Shutterfly after appearing on the TV show Shark Tank. For $2.99/month, it prints 100 photos from my mobile phone and ships them to my door. It’s super simple to select the ones you want to upload, and then the app automatically processes the print order on your monthly deadline day and ships you this fun booklet of your prints.
Each print has a perforated edge so you can choose to keep them in the book as a whole, like a mini photo album of sorts. Or, tear out the ones you want to share with loved ones, frame or scrapbook. Photo quality is not the highest but it’s an almost hands-off, relatively instant way to get pictures printed off my iPhone at least. I’ll talk about this more in a later post about playing & publishing your pictures. Use CODE (KRUSE58) to get a free Groovebook sample of your own!
Obviously, any physical backup system is at risk for natural disasters, including fire, flood, tornado/hurricane, theft, and unsupervised toddlers. So even if you have your photos on your main computer hard drive, an external hard drive, a set of DVDs, flash drives and prints organized into albums…you’ll lose them all in an instant with Mother Nature’s wrath or a homeowner incident if they are all kept in the same general location (your home or office).
Redundancy (multiple copies) is a key strategy in archiving but if all those copies are in the same physical geographic location, you’re risking it all. “Colocation” is a technical term that can refer to off-site data storage but it applies to your own photo backup too. Move at least one copy of your backups to a second location that’s outside your primary computer’s location. Even better is to make sure your backup-to-the-backup is in an off-site location that’s outside your same region. In other words, a tornado/hurricane/earthquake can wipe out a stretch of a town that could include BOTH your home and your mom’s house if you’re only a few blocks away. Think further out like a different town, or state! Sure, you may have to ship it there or deliver it when you go to visit but you can rest easy knowing that the same natural disaster is not likely to affect both copies!
JUST IN CASE
The easiest way to keep your optical media safe is to store them in cases. If you buy the economical disc spindle, you’ll want to buy coordinating cases. There are now slim versions that don’t take up as much space on a shelf.
You can also store them inside vinyl sleeve pocket sheets that go into 3-ring binders. Some are made to look extra nice like high-end photo albums you wouldn’t mind looking at on your bookshelf or desk.
Other disc storage devices depend on how many you’ll need to hold. Always buy more space than you currently have discs so there’s room to grow/add as you continue your archiving efforts. Tomorrow I’ll cover the digital side of archiving by backing up to the CLOUD! Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it until you understand.
DAY 10: 2/7/15: 15 MINUTES. LET’S GET PHYSICAL WITH OUR BACKUPS!
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and determine your backup strategy by deciding how you’ll backup your photos — to CD/DVDs, flash/thumb drives, external hard drives. Decide which photos to print and how you plan to print.
Now open Picasa and click on at least one album or folder. Under the TOOLS menu, choose “Back Up Pictures…” to then see all your available photos to select for backup. After you check all the boxes for the ones you want (or just “select all”), Picasa will total up how many GBs you’ll need, even how many DVDs or CDs that would take. Of course, if you backup to a large-enough external hard drive or flash drive, you’ll only need to do the backup “BURN/COPY” process once.
Be sure to create a backup “set” to identify which pictures, where to back them up, whether to include all files, all pictures (no videos), or just JPEGs with camera information. I recommend ALL to be safe, but you can test how big the backup would be with the various options. Maybe you’ll just want to backup videos elsewhere or whatever may be. After you create this “set,” you can choose it next time to do an “incremental backup,” meaning just the ones that have been added or modified since the initial backup. Yes, you’ll be revisiting this step in the future so get familiar with it!
In summary, your DAY 10 DUTIES:
DETERMINE YOUR ARCHIVAL STRATEGY BY CHOOSING THE MEDIA TYPES YOU WILL USE FOR BACKUPS.
ORDER ANY PERIPHERAL PRODUCTS YOU NEED FOR ARCHIVING (CD/DVD/BLU-RAY DISCS & RECORDING DRIVES, EXTERNAL/PORTABLE HARD DRIVES, USB FLASH DRIVES, CASES & STORAGE SOLUTIONS.
OPEN PICASA AND LOOK UNDER THE TOOLS MENU FOR “BACK UP PICTURES.”
CREATE A BACKUP SET TO CHOOSE THE MEDIA & FILE TYPES, THEN SELECT ALL THE ALBUMS & FOLDERS TO BURN/COPY YOUR BACKUP TO THE SOURCE YOU CHOOSE.
AFTER CREATING/BURNING MULTIPLE COPIES OF YOUR ARCHIVE, PUT THEM IN APPROPRIATE LOCATIONS USING PROPER SAFE STORAGE SOLUTIONS.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR (SCHEDULE A REMINDER IN YOUR PHONE) TO SYNC UPDATED PHOTOS TO YOUR BACKUP SOURCES & SWAP OUT THE DEVICES AS NEEDED.
WHOA WARNING Be sure to backup your ALBUMS as well as your folders! Because, if you remember, the FOLDERS are where your photos actually reside. Your ALBUMS need to be saved too so Picasa can retain all your organization as well. Otherwise if you load these onto another computer later, all that effort will be lost. You’ll still have your JPGs of course, and the tags that you identified them with, but not all that helpful organization and details from your ALBUMS. You can also backup your PEOPLE albums, or FACE/NAME tags. Re-read my post on that to make sure your faces get saved correctly WITH the photo file so you don’t lose all that priceless “people” info!
TALKING TIME LIMITS This step might take some time as burning optical media discs depends on the speed of the drive. It may be something you let run overnight or while you go somewhere until it finishes. It may also takea little time messing around with printing your files/folders to go with the discs and drives. Unless you’ve already used this feature, your first few will take longer but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to archive as fast as can be.
Remember, this is your initial backup so it will take the longest. After this, your backups will only be incremental, meaning much less waiting while your files copy! Unless, of course, you wait far too long (like 6 months to a year) before doing another backup…then you’ll have to wait a while too!
Who wants to be a photo organizing rock star and record your first album? That’s what we’re doing today in our 15-minute “recording” session. These will be your “Best of” or “Greatest Hits” collection that’s sure to go platinum! To be number one on the charts, you have to choose your best photos and sort them into albums to best save and share them.
BE A PHOTO ORGANIZING ROCK STAR — MAKE ALBUMS
Back in my day, music “albums” were also known as records, or vinyl. Today, youngsters with their divine digital birthright can’t comprehend this prehistoric music concept as they hardly understand CDs, let alone LPs!
Although the term continues to linger in the industry much like the fact that iPhones use a “camera ROLL” to hold your photos, the word album still generally refers to a collection of music worth sharing. Another way to think about albums is like a playlist in iTunes. It’s just a set grouping of favorites you chose and organized in a certain way.
Well it’s the same concept for photos! An ALBUM we make in Picasa is a collection of your photos — not all of them, preferably just the STARS! No, we’re not talking about those 1980s edition photo albums with the sticky page you peel back to stick your prints inside.
(Side note: If you think you’re all set with your photographs from the past because you have your prints stored “safely” in photo albums like the ones mentioned, I hate to burst your bubble but these have been proven UNSAFE for photos, and are actually eating your pictures up as time goes on! Please pull out all your prints from these old photo albums immediately to avoid any additional damage! Now back to our regularly scheduled post about digital…)
ALBUMS AREN’T FOLDERS
The big thing to remember is that Picasa doesn’t treat ALBUMS the same as FOLDERS. Your photos only exist in their folders! Making an album in Picasa does NOT duplicate them on your hard drive. An ALBUM simply points to the photos that reside in their usual location. They’re basically a “virtual view” of your photos.
So to delete a photo for real, do it from your FOLDERS section and the image will be gone for good. Delete it from an album and it just removes the reference to it in that instance. It doesn’t do anything to the real JPG.
By the way, Picasa only shows folders that have at least one photo in them. So if you have some empty folders, they won’t show here until there’s at least one JPG in it.
Take extra caution if you want to delete an entire folder because it will also delete any subfolders inside it. That’s why using the “tree view” helps avoid mistakes like this because you can see the parent folder and any related “children” folders inside/under it. Only delete from the lowest-level subfolder so you don’t accidentally delete a folder, or nested folders, by accident.
In Picasa’s Collections List along the left side, you’ll see ALBUMS, PEOPLE, PROJECTS and FOLDERS. (You may see a few other categories but these are the main ones). TIP: In the FOLDERS section, if you select the “tree view” instead of the default “flat folder view,” you can see them in the same hierarchical structure as you have them on your hard drive — the same thing we did on the first few days. The tree view helps you see the event sub-folders in relation to your sorted date folders. We covered PEOPLE and name tags yesterday. We’ll talk about PROJECTS another day. So today is ALBUMS!
NEW ALBUMS ROCK
Say you went on an incredible vacation and took 1000 (or whatever exorbitant number) of photos of your trip. No one, I repeat…NO ONE, is going to want to look at ALL of your pics no matter how amazing you say they are. Unless you are a National Geographic photographer, then maybe. You’ll need to cull the collection down to a more-reasonable summary or highlight reel that people will enjoy (rather than endure) viewing. If you’ve already done your STAR process to find your favorites (& you should’ve since that was Day 5!), this step is uber-easy. Click on a folder with quite a few pictures in it. (Make sure this folder has marked stars in it.) Click the “SELECT STARRED PHOTOS” yellow star icon at the top left near the folder name. It will highlight any star photos in that folder and show them as tiny thumbnails in the Photo Tray (lower left corner). Just click “Add selected items to an Album” with the “blue book” button just to the right of this.
A drop-down menu asks you to create a “New Album” (or put them in an existing album if you have one or more). New Album pops up a Properties window (shown below) so you can add details beyond just the name and date. Yes, you should fill in the “optional” details of Place taken & Description (caption/story)! If you plan to view this album in a slideshow or movie (& you probably will), you can check the box to use music and find that file on your computer too.
You can add more photos to this ALBUM at any time from any other folder. If you went on vacation to several of Utah’s National Parks, you could make albums for “Best of Bryce” and “Best of Zion” but you could also group those together into a “Best of Utah” album. Again, these are NOT copying the photos — just pointing to them where they already safely reside in their sorted & labeled folders on your hard drive.
Another excellent use of ALBUMS would be for grouping your favorite photos of a certain person, maybe your children. Of course, you can always use the PEOPLE feature for this but sometimes you want to see just your all-time faves, not ALL their pics. To make this album, look in the PEOPLE collection under that person. Click to “select starred photos” and create an album for the “Best of FILL-IN-THE-BLANK NAME.”
Now after you are done uploading new photos and doing your star/caption/tag efforts, you can quickly drop the ones you love most into these special “highlight reel” albums. That said, this is ideal for any high school seniors who want those graduation slide shows! Make your own by clustering them into an ALBUM right in Picasa. Now click the green arrow “PLAY FULLSCREEN SLIDESHOW” for your new “blue-book” album and modify the effects as you wish. You can also create a COLLAGE or a full-fledged MOVIE PRESENTATION complete with title slides, clips, captions and more.
DAY 9: 2/6/15: 15 MINUTES. ROCK THE STAR ALBUMS!
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open Picasa. Figure out what photos you’d like to pull into an ALBUM from your starred favorites. Open that FOLDER, click the “select starred photos” star icon and put the selected items into their own album with the “blue book” icon to the right of the photo tray. Create a new album (fill in properties pop-up window) and then fill from other folders as you wish. You can also right-click on any photo to “add to album” or create new album with it.
By pulling out your best photos and arranging them into sorted photo ALBUMS that make sense, you’ve made your entire photo collection more meaningful! As a reward when done making your rock “star albums,” enjoy playing your full-screen slideshows (with or without captions on)!
In summary, your DAY 9 DUTIES:
OPEN PICASA & VIEW A FOLDER WITH STARRED PHOTOS IN IT THAT YOU WANT TO PUT INTO AN ALBUM.
CLICK THE YELLOW STAR ICON TO “SELECT STARRED PHOTOS” SO THEY GO INTO THE PHOTO TRAY.
CLICK THE “BLUE BOOK” ICON TO THE RIGHT OF THE TRAY TO CREATE A NEW ALBUM.
FILL OUT THE NEW ALBUM PROPERTIES FOR BETTER SEARCHING & REFERENCE LATER.
PULL IN ANY OTHER PHOTOS TO THIS ALBUM & MAKE OTHERS AS NEEDED TO SORT OUT YOUR BEST “STAR” PHOTOS FOR EASY SHARING & SAVING.
VIEW FULL-SCREEN SLIDESHOW, MAKE A PHOTO COLLAGE OR MOVIE PRESENTATION, OR CREATE A GIFT CD WITH YOUR “BLUE BOOK” ALBUMS.
WHOA WARNING Remember, ALBUMS are just virtual playlists that reference your photos from their location in FOLDERS. If you make albums and delete all your folders, you will have a mess because the albums won’t be able to find the actual photo! Same goes for moving your folders around. If you change the location, the album will get “lost” trying to find those photos again. You can usually correct this but that’s why I didn’t tell you about this until AFTER we’ve done all our organization, sorting and folder naming. Hopefully you don’t have to modify them much so your albums stay together.
An easy way to remind yourself is that folders are always shown as blue manilla folders and albums are always shown as blue books.
TALKING TIME LIMITS
This shouldn’t take too long and it should be a fun process. It depends entirely on how many albums you choose to create. Don’t skip this step as it’s a valuable one because it physically shows you the best of the best — your favorite photos you cherish the most! These are the ones you’d be heartbroken if they were lost…whether that be to theft of your laptop, hard drive crash, accidental deletion or failed backup. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post about just that — backups!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 You 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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
OPEN PICASA & VIEW YOUR “UNNAMED” PEOPLE FOLDER.
IDENTIFY OR IGNORE ALL PEOPLE SHOWN, CREATING NEW NAME TAGS AS YOU WISH.
CONFIRM SUGGESTIONS FOR PEOPLE AS THEY POP UP.
TRY OUT SEARCHING FOR 2-3 NAMES IN A SINGLE PHOTO.
PLAY AROUND & CREATE A FACE MOVIE JUST FOR FUN!
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.
However, 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.
TALKING 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!
To carry on our story-saving, memory-preserving caption-writing efforts of yesterday, we’re going to learn about keywords, also known as tags, which are helpful facts that will give your photos an added level of organization by making them easily searchable.
JUST GOOGLE IT
Think about how you simply go to Google and type in whatever words are in your brain to describe the topic you seek. Those word choices are “search terms” that are essentially metadata. Imagine if you could Google “Paul’s 4th birthday” and it would magically find all those photos in an instant and show them to you. That would be pretty awesome, right? Well, guess what? We’re going to do that process for your pictures so you can type in some basic terms/keywords/tags and let Picasa be your Google to pull the pics with those matching words. Woohoo!
Now just to clarify for you security-scaredy-cat folks, your photo metadata CANNOT really be read by Google or any other search engines. I’m merely pointing out that it works in a similar fashion to a search engine, but this searching is all done on your own computer to find your own photo files!
Maybe I should’ve used the example of a stock photo website instead. It allows you to search for specific terms to find the perfect image from its vast gallery. Without those search terms (keywords) tagged to the images, they won’t be easily found.
If you’ve looked at a stock photo site, click on an image and check out the keyword list. I’m sure you’ll find a few that don’t seem like words you’d use to describe that photo, but that’s why the success of keywording partially depends on thinking like the person who will be searching. Great news if it’s going to be you most of the time! You know you best!
What in the world is metadata and why must I learn another tech term? Metadata is hidden information attached to every image file that provides additional details for your reference. Why on earth do I care, you ask?
In addition to the image data of your JPG, each image also contains technical information from the camera that captured it. Facts about the camera model, date/time, lens, aperture, ISO, flash, and location (if geo-tag enabled) are recorded to an EXIF file that always stays with the image. You can usually view this info by clicking the “get info” or “properties” menu for any photo, although it’s not often editable.
Commonly called “keywords” or “tags,” metadata is “hidden” data that is tied to your JPG, adding helpful information that can be used to find a specific photo when searching. Obviously, the camera does its job and auto-generates the “capture” specifications and the “when” with the date/time (if your camera is set properly!). But you’ll need to fill in the other blanks about who, what, where and why.
The computer allows us to add these fields of keywords to any image. In addition to the camera’s EXIF, two other types you can add with a computer are called IPTC from the 1970s and the newer style XMP developed by Adobe in 2001. These include geographic location, copyright notice, creator, contact info, and of course, captions, among other details.
People tend to prefer the word “tags” because it makes you think of price tags or gift tags that are attached to items and give you helpful information such as “This is THAT much?” or “That’s for me?”
In today’s social media-savvy world, we could also think of them a bit like #hashtags, which are primarily found on Instagram and Twitter. If you don’t understand those, don’t stress as this isn’t about that but it may help some of you get a grip on what tags are and why we do it.
Web designers use keywords when creating sites to improve SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Maybe we should call what we’re doing Photo Recall Optimization (PRO)? I know I’d like to be a PRO at it! And with Picasa’s tags and captions, I can be!
TAG, YOU’RE IT
Picasa makes it super easy to add tags to any photo. Just click on the small yellow “tag” icon in the lower right corner of a photo in the editor mode. The right panel now becomes a tag editor window. Type in your words and hit “enter” to have them saved. If you need to delete a tag, click on it to highlight it, then click the small x at the far right.
You can also set up to 10 “quick tags” that you use the most by clicking the tiny orange “gear” logo in that section. These stay at the bottom so you can simply click once to include them without typing anything again. To save you time, the top two spots are reserved for your most-recent tags, unless you opt otherwise.
To be honest, this is one area of Picasa that I think is lacking. The irony of that fact is that Picasa is from Google, THE search engine king! I’d love to see better use of Picasa’s Tags panel by showing more of my tags so I can just click them to apply, or maybe have an alphabetical auto-fill so as I start to type, my choices are filled in fast. And I’d also prefer to have a way to sort them into a hierarchy with categories or grouped by sub-topics such as People, Places, and so on.
Adobe Lightroom offers more advanced tagging features like this. Because I can’t get this level of sorting from my tags in Picasa, I have to be smart about which ones I choose and make sure my captions are complete so they can serve as useful search terms too.
But what, you ask, am I supposed to put down for tags? Good question. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, per se. It’s more of a matter of thinking about how you think. Or more importantly, how you’ll think in the future. Or how you think your loved ones might think.
Before you start typing in text willy-nilly, think for a few minutes about the words you would use to jog your memory when you want to find a photo. Scroll through your photo collection in Picasa for visual cues to start making a list in your head. If you want, you can jot a few notes down on paper but the idea is to get your brain in the right frame of mind.
Remember how we used the 4Ws of Who, What, Where and When when writing captions? These still apply for tags too! Except you don’t have to write full sentences or use punctuation. (If you didn’t, don’t freak out as there is no technical rule regarding this.)
Looking at the WHO category, or PEOPLE for tagging…there are a few key groups such as family, friends, and don’t forget your pets! Family should be specified by first name, although I also suggest using their “title” as well, especially if you have more than one person sharing that name, i.e. grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, son, daughter.
FACE OFF One fun feature of Picasa (& some other photo managers) is its facial recognition capability that learns and automatically labels faces for who they are! This can reduce the need to have name tags. We will cover this in our next post!
This may be one of the biggest, broadest categories of all because it includes the EVENTS like holidays, birthdays, vacations, weddings, and reunions, as well as ACTIVITIES such as camping, swimming, cooking, horseback-riding, bike-riding, etc. As you can see, if you participate in two similar-sounding but vastly different activities, you’ll want to separate them into specific tags. Instead of just using “riding” by itself, you should clarify the type of riding — “horseback-riding” or “bike-riding” or “motorcycle-riding.” Of course, you could still just use “riding” by itself if you also added the other word by itself too — horseback, bike and motorcycle could be search terms. It should work to combine searches such as “bike + riding,” which should give you any pics that match both bike AND riding. Imagine all the verbs you can “do.”
SMILING OR CRYING For most candid camera shots, the people in the photo are likely smiling as we’ve all learned to “say cheese” and “smile for the camera” since childhood. I know there are digital cameras on the market that can detect when everyone in a group is smiling so it snaps the pic real quick. As much as we adore beautiful smiles, chances are that 90% of your photos are of smiling people. Maybe more!
What we don’t usually photograph though is our kids having meltdown moments, tantrums, bawlfests and crybaby sessions. Yet that may be the one shot we’d like to find someday. If you put “smiling” in as a tag, you have a zillion more to tag, and it’s hard to find that special shot someday later. But if you put “crying” or “frowning” as the tag on those few photos, you’d be all set for quickly finding them for the ultimate embarrassment when the perfect time comes.
That said, a pro photographer told a story that he DOES tag his senior portraits as “smiling” because most Moms want a pic of their child smiling and this photog didn’t want to look through the photo shoot to find the few with good smiles. So maybe it’s not such a crazy idea, but for my own use, I’m going to stick to the NON-smiling tags.
DAWN OF A NEW AGE
That’s right. This is the dawn of a new age — the age of organized digital photos! Don’t stacks of older print feel rather prehistoric right now after all this tech talk for a week? Age is an important factor for many of us as Moms trying to sort out our kids’ childhoods.
One helpful idea is to have digital photos tagged as baby, toddler, preschool, elementary, middle-school, high-school, and college. Suppose you wanted to add another level of detail like first-grade, hs-sophomore, college-senior, etc. Just make sure you don’t overlap “senior” to mean the one in high school, college or the old folks! Be more detailed for early childhood with 0-3months, 3-6months, 6-9months, 9-12months, and 1year.
Other than the age of the person in the photo, you could also “age” your time period to a certain decade: 40s, 60s, 80s. But the photo folder date will already be able to give you that information so I don’t think this would be a very helpful tag choice.
TIME WILL TELL
You may wish to add a tag to describe the relative time of day the photo was taken too. Although I think this could become overkill in a hurry if you listed day/night or am/pm or morning/evening/noon. I can see the point for sunrise and sunset though as sometimes you want to find a specific shot for that. But these aren’t as critical as the other tags so only do this if you can justify that it matters to you and your future searching ability. I won’t ask for proof but you’ll know best.
The 4th W of Where would be the PLACE tag. Of course, you can label the locations of your photos in Picasa’s tag editor. There are so many places you may want to include in your list though — home, school, work, church, park, backyard and restaurant usually apply to all of us. Then there’s the zoo, park, daycare, farm, starbucks, ocean, beach, cruise, disney, vegas, etc. You will have to determine how many of these you intend to include and it really only matters if you would ever possibly want to search for the photo by that term or sort these matching photos into a new group.
For example, say you go to a certain spot several times on different occasions. Yet you’d like to maybe see ALL your photos from that place in one group. If that’s the case, you’d better make it a tag.
GEOTAG = METADATA MAP
On that same topic, there’s another field of metadata for location information that can be as specific as latitude and longitude coordinates, or just search for it on a Google map to have it tied to your photos that were taken there.
If you travel, it can be fascinating to see your photos on a map. If you don’t leave the state much, you can probably skip this step! But seriously folks, get outta Dodge once! There’s a whole wide world out there waiting to be explored — and photographed!
Adding a geotag is also easy in Picasa. With one or more photos selected, click on the small red thumbtack “place” icon to load the Places Panel. From there you can search for an address or simply click on the map to place the dot. It will ask you if you’d like to place the photo(s) there. You can click yes to confirm, no to cancel or move the pinpoint as needed. The fastest way is to select multiples, of course.
GENERIC SEARCH TERMS
Depending on what types of photos exist in your collection and what you intend to do with them, you may find it helpful to include other generic search terms such as: landscape, scenery, nature, landscape (just make sure it refers to photos of the terrain; not all horizontal photos!), and portrait (close-up photo of a person not all vertical photos!). If you tend to take a lot of food & drink photos for Instagram, maybe you should have separate “food” and “drink” tags, although I’m guessing you could group these together as “food & drink” too.
SPECIFIC SEARCH TERMS
Now you’ll need to think about your life and photos specifically. What words are common in your family that might be useful for searching/sorting later? If your child likes to make Lego creations like mine did, you may have quite a few photos of various structures and playtime. In that case, adding the tag “Lego” might prove wise if you’d like to just search to pull up all Lego photos someday.
What about weather? Depending on where you live, you may want to add a term or two. For example, living in Vegas, where it rarely rains or snows, I would be able to tag select photos with “rain” or “snow.” But it would be ridiculous to tag all the rest “sunny” since there are so many of those! Although maybe folks in Seattle would say the opposite — they’ll tag “sunny” because it’s more rare and leave “rainy” as a regular term.
If you take quite a few pics of fireworks, the moon, clouds or whatever you “obsession” seems to be, definitely make a tag for it and use it consistently in the future too.
In Picasa, the far right column can become a panel of information for PEOPLE/FACES (mug shot icon), PLACES/MAPS (red thumbtack icon), TAGS/KEYWORDS (yellow tag icon), and PROPERTIES/INFO (i in blue circle). Just click through these to see various dates and details that are part of your photos metadata. The last panel for Properties will give you a long list of info you probably didn’t know even existed on every image, even ones shot by your smartphone camera!
DAY 7: 2/5/15: 15 MINUTES. METATAG MARVEL.
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open Picasa. Navigate to your most-recent photo month/event folder. While viewing the thumbnails in the Library view, select multiple photos* that will have the same batch of basic keywords. Usually you can apply most of the tags to the whole group of pics, and then specify further details from there. This makes it quite easy to add the keywords to all those photos without doing it individually for each one!
*How to select multiple files at once: MAC: Click & hold down the SHIFT key, then click on the first item in the list so it’s highlighted. Now go to the last item of the group (all in a row), you’d like to pick & click that one. Every image in between the two you clicked on is now highlighted.
A good example would be a grouping of vacation pictures. They can all be tagged “vacation” and maybe “travel” and possibly “springbreak” or “summer,” depending when you went. Add in a location tag of whatever state you visited at least; city too if it’s major enough you might sort by that term someday. You’ll then want to mark them with whatever other terms you might want to find later: mountain, tree, sunset, red (colors), purple dress (fashion), sailing (activity), etc.
Use only singular words whenever possible. (mountain, tree, birthday — not mountains, trees, birthdays)
Remember (or write down) a list of the words you choose for consistency
Only use lowercase unless it’s a proper city/state or name
Save specific locations for geotag (Places)
Use facial recognition for People & turn on Name Tags feature for your photos with faces
In summary, your DAY 7 DUTIES:
OPEN PICASA & VIEW YOUR MOST-RECENT PHOTO FOLDER (2015-01) IN THE LIBRARY.
SELECT THE LARGEST BATCH OF MULTIPLE PHOTOS THAT YOU CAN APPLY MANY OF THE SAME TAGS.
CLICK THE SMALL YELLOW TAG ICON TO OPEN THE TAG PANEL.
WRITE YOUR TAGS & SAVE THEM TO YOUR PHOTOS.
SAVE SOME “QUICK TAGS” TO SPEED UP YOUR TAGGIN.
GO BACK THROUGH ALL PHOTOS (START WITH STARS). TRY TO KEEP TAGGING ALL 2015 PHOTOS AS YOU IMPORT OR DURING THE EDITING PHASE WHEN YOU CAPTION.
WHOA WARNING Places (Geotags) & People (Faces) can be handled separately in Picasa if you prefer. Decide whether you’ll use the distinct metadata features for this information or whether you want it all to be in the same tags/keywords field. Personally, I’d use the options that the software allows wherever possible. These are far more visually appealing and offer additional search capability than the standard text-only tags.
TALKING TIME LIMITS
Not gonna lie. This can take a while. If you get carried away tagging, this may suck you in. Don’t let it. Remember, this step is NOT the most important. If you’ve sorted your photos into the well-named folders and captioned your photos with searchable words, you already miles ahead when it comes to finding the photos you want faster in the future. Do a few tags for what you think might be helpful and let it go. You can always come back to tagging at a later date if you feel the urge. If you do, just remember to sync or update your backups so those images have the tags you added.
A photo is worth a thousand words. We all know that famous quote yet do we really believe it and accept it as truth? Does that mean we don’t need to write down anything about our pictures because we’ll just “know.”
We’d love to think we’ll always remember everything down to every last detail. Yet the older we get, the more the reality of fading and forgotten memories makes us realize writing down a few details might be a better way to preserve the stories behind the photos.
We shouldn’t feel bad about this fact. I mean really, most of us depend on to-do lists and grocery lists without scoffing at one another for a lack of brainpower. So why should we feel inadequate somehow for writing down a few words about our photos? Just. In. Case.
As anyone who has lost a loved one too soon, or endured a family member suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you just never know “when” will be too late to ask about “the time when” or “tell me about this picture” or “who is this?”
“Safeguard your yesterdays for tomorrow by capturing your present today.”
~ Brenda Kruse, PhotoOrganizingPro.com
By recording the seemingly simple and small details of your daily life now, you’re making it much easier on yourself — and your legacy (future generations) — to know why you took that particular photo, why you kept it, and why it mattered so much.
The secret to all that? Words, or the story.
And don’t instantly get your feathers ruffled, underwear in a bunch, ire up…by whining “but Brenda, I’m not a writer, I can’t write, I’m not good at words, I don’t know what to say,” etc. excuses. I say, “baloney!”
No one is asking (or expecting) you to write the next best-selling novel. Or viral blog post. Maybe you’ll be the only person who ever reads it anyway. The point is to put something down on “paper.” Well, I don’t actually mean paper or print, I mean as a digital CAPTION that becomes metadata that stays with your image file. Read this (I am a writer!) and repeat it until you believe it!
In Picasa (my preferred photo management program & hopefully now yours as well), captions are easy to create. Simply click in the space below the photo and type what you want. It auto-saves as you either click enter or move to the next pic. The best part is that every word is searchable so you’ve just made it easier to find the photo (like keyword/tags, which we’ll cover tomorrow). And all this VIP info is stored with the image itself, meaning it will export and transfer to any other program as needed.
Captions can be printed when you print the photo (not straight-forward but there are ways). They also appear in slideshows on Google+ (or you can turn them off). They can display with your photos when uploaded to Web Albums too. You can also turn them on in the Library view to show below the thumbnails.
Typing up even a simple caption may seem time-consuming when facing a backlog of your entire photo collection but I recommend you start from today and start with the stars! In other words, view your “all stars” and look at the most-recent photos first. Add captions there as you see fit. If you never get around to captioning your “other” photos, at least you’ve done your all-time favorites. Those are the ones you said mean the most to you anyway so those should be your first for saving the story.
This reminds me of what the flight attendants say on a plane in the case of an emergency and the oxygen mask drops from the ceiling compartment, put yours on first before assisting a child or anyone else. So these are your ultimate “me” photos…your oxygen mask moments.
Then you can move on to doing the others. And yes, you can copy and paste one caption to others, although this isn’t the ideal way to provide information. If you simply need to identify basic facts, the keywords/tags feature will likely be more appropriate. We’re covering that tomorrow so maybe wait and see on some of your “Disneyland Spring Break 2012” captions you thought you’d type. Instead, tell us about the tantrum your son threw when he couldn’t get the light saber sucker or how your daughter turned green after riding Mickey’s Fun Wheel or how long you waited for the Cars ride.
NOT JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM
When I say write captions, I mean more of the background story or an interesting tidbit about the moment that isn’t obvious from the visual. Not just some of the more literal things we can deduce from either seeing the photo or knowing which file folder it came from with its date and event label.
In other words, don’t bother putting a caption of “zoo sign” on a photo of a sign at the front of a zoo you visited. I’m pretty sure your future offspring should be able to figure that out without your “helpful” hint. One you way you should plan to help them is to explain why you went to the zoo. School field trip, vacation, local excursion, your kid wouldn’t stop talking about polar bears one summer, or whatever it is. You’ll be able to use metadata keywords and geotags to identify the location and other specifics so that won’t be needed in your caption although you could add it now as long as you include the additional details as well — not just the facts, ma’am!
TELLING A STORY “DOWN THE LINE”
Consider the old-time game of “telephone” for a minute. I’m too young to have ever played it but am familiar with the concept. You tell one person a story and then that person calls another person to tell them what you said. Keep the chain going and then see if the story even resembles the original when it’s told back to the original author! Kinda like gossip!
Same goes for your photos and the stories behind them. One person might tell the story one way; another leaves out one detail and adds in two more. Someone else might go off on a tangent about another aspect that’s not really related to this photo but reminds them of this other story. See what I mean? This is why you need to write down the stories and memories YOU want to save and share as captions.Even if they end up being little blurbs for the most part, they will add a little extra information, personality, character, and point-of-view to the photo.
Remember the old print photos of our past that we all have (or have inherited)? The ones when past generations actually wrote on the backs of photo prints? That little detail or description is now a cherished caption as it tells us what, many times, the people pictured cannot as they are no longer with us.
Of course, those hand-written captions were a little more awesome because they were just that — hand-written snippets of their signature style that we now treasure. Sadly, your Picasa captions will not give future generations that same warm-fuzzy feeling but they’ll be grateful you wrote anything at all!
What story does the above photo tell? Besides it’s the 70s?! Bet you’re not sure. Luckily the back had this CAPTION (in my Mom’s handwriting): “Brenda & Shane are taking lessons from Steve on how to make funny faces. February or March 1974.” That means I was a little over 2 years old sitting on the kitchen table with my slightly younger cousin while my dad made us laugh by making funny faces, probably after he came in from doing chores at night. This is from the old farmhouse in NW IA.
Enough lecture on why it’s so important and why you need to stop complaining and just start typing. Turn on your 15-minute timer and crank out some captions! You can always go back to edit or embellish later. Get something down for each “starred” favorite photo in your collection and you’ll be so thankful someday. You can send me a nice note then.
DAY 6: 2/4/15: 15 MINUTES. CAPTAIN CAPTION
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and open Picasa. Click on the top filter to “show starred photos only” then look at your most-recent photo folder (probably 2015-01). These will be easier to caption because they are most fresh in your mind.
In the library, double-click to open the first one in the editing mode. Underneath it, click the “Make a caption!” text and type in your own. Click enter to see it “saved” on that photo or just hit the next arrow at the top to advance to the next starred photo in the folder.
As you go back in time through your collection, you will realize it’s more difficult to remember the specifics and the stories that go with some older photos. Those memories are already fading! Write what you can and if possible, jot a note in it to ask another person to share their story about the photo. This works for a spouse, child, sibling or someone else who was also there at that time or maybe remembers the stories you once told about this photo. Sharing your stories verbally is important but putting them in print is priceless. I’ll be showing some great options for taking “the next steps” with your photos for sharing and saving them!
In summary, your DAY 6 DUTIES:
OPEN PICASA & FILTER BY “ALL STARS,” THEN START WITH YOUR MOST-RECENT PHOTO FOLDER (2015-01).
DOUBLE-CLICK THE FIRST PIC TO OPEN IT IN THE EDITOR.
UNDERNEATH THE PHOTO, WRITE YOUR OWN TEXT IN THE “MAKE A CAPTION!” SPACE AND CLICK ENTER WHEN DONE.
CLICK THE FORWARD ARROW AT THE TOP CENTER TO ADVANCE TO THE NEXT STARRED PHOTO AND REPEAT THIS PROCESS UNTIL ALL YOUR FAVORITE PHOTOS HAVE BEEN CAPTIONED.
IF YOU HAD FUN WITH THAT AND WANT TO KEEP WORKING, FEEL FREE TO OPEN YOUR MOST-RECENT FOLDER (2015-01), CLICK “VIEW ALL” AND ADD CAPTIONS TO ALL YOUR OTHER PHOTOS. WORK BACK TO DO THEM ALL IF YOU CHOOSE.
By their original intent, captions were designed to be relatively brief, extending about the length/width of your photo (if horizontal). Think about how captions provide details next to photos in articles found in newspapers and magazines. These “cutlines” sometimes simply summarize; others they offer unique details specific to the image shown. Picasa will allow longer text and simply continues your text onto another line (or more) so feel free to write out the story as you wish without editing it to fit a certain limit. I wouldn’t worry much about a caption that takes up two lines. That said, you would not be able to print a long-copy caption on the photo very easily and it may not display well on slideshows and mobile devices, but the point is to preserve the information along with the image first and foremost. Write on!
TALKING TIME LIMITS Captions shouldn’t take long to type up unless you are a hunt-and-pack typist. If you are, maybe it’d be more efficient to have someone faster type while you speak what you want instead. It’s up to you but if you know someone who would make a great teammate for this process, ask for their assistance. In all reality, it really doesn’t matter much if your captions have poor grammar or typos in them so don’t stress about being graded. The only thing that might give you a little grief would be a typo in a caption if you tried to search for that word because Picasa wouldn’t include in its search results the photo with the misspelled word in the caption. Remember, spelling cownts.
Who feels more organized already? You should’ve spent an hour (at least!) on these past four daily tasks so far. Much less than you probably spend watching The Bachelor’s Monday night marathons! And you know for a fact that your time spent dealing with your digital photos is far more useful than watching some dude try to date 15 crazy chicks. After today’s 15-minute session, you’ll be one-third of the way to our grand finale for Valentine’s Day!
PUSH CAME TO SHOVE
Well I let you make it to Day 5 before I asked you what team you were on — PC or MAC. Not that it really matters though, as photo management is a universally compatible problem. But today you’ll be making the official decision of what software program, if any, you are going to use to manage your images. I realize this is a touchy subject and there’s no way to please all of you so please don’t start a fight over this topic in the comments.
Much of it comes down to personal preference and the sheer fact that — whatever you pick — you must use it! Regularly & religiously! If you don’t have a favorite program yet or are willing to explore options, I’ll make recommendations you are welcome to try. But don’t just throw in the towel if you aren’t savvy with a certain photo program I mention. If you already know what you prefer to use, fantastic! Simply use my advice to apply the information to your specific software and all will be well!
AN APPLE A DAY
Here we go down the road of discussing loyalties a bit. I’m a diehard Mac lover and have been since an early age. I own a couple 17-inch MacBook Pro laptops that are older and well-used but have served me well. However, I also own a cheap PC laptop that I use to run my high-speed scanning equipment. And over the years, I’ve had to work on PCs for clients as well. Two years ago, I finally got on the iPhone bandwagon with a 5 and just recently upped the ante with the 6+. Somewhat surprisingly to some, I do not currently own any iPads or tablets so I can’t answer any questions purely specific to those although most of what we’re doing will universally apply to all devices.
First of all, there are image viewers that primarily show you the photo files but don’t often have editing tools or other advanced features. You’ve probably been using an image viewer these past few days. There are two other types of photo software you may have used, or have thought about trying out.
Of course, the number one name when people think of when it comes to photo software is often AdobePhotoshop, which is a high-end photo-editing (manipulation depending how far you take it!) program — NOT a photo management system. Adobe Lightroom is a DAM program. DAM stands for Digital Asset Management — I wasn’t cursing at you! A database-driven photo manager usually offers some degree of editing along with the ability to create, edit and access image metadata, the helpful extra information that stays connected with your photo.
Lightroom is available as boxed software or a digital download for about $150. You can also use its Creative Cloud monthly subscription method to get BOTH Photoshop & Lightroom for only $9.99/month, which is a pretty good deal. But not if you’re never going to learn them as they do have pretty steep learning curves. If you shoot RAW, you’ll want to use Lightroom. (If you think “shooting raw” means you take pictures of carrots, stick with Picasa.) It also offers a more advanced editing palette and additional metadata capability. So if you’re a pro (or a wanna-be pro), you may want to make this leap. If you’re a novice, amateur, beginner, hobbyist or just plain normal person looking for something that won’t require a college degree to master, keep reading…
PICASA FOR ME Personally and professionally, I pick Picasa for organizing, editing and sharing your photos. Now closely integrated with Google, this free Mac & PC software links well with Google+, Gmail and other Google apps if you are already connected. However, you do not need to have fully explored the Google+ realm to use Picasa. The latest version (3.9) can be downloaded here (http://picasa.google.com/).
Picasa Web Albums are perfect for uploading photos to the cloud for sharing and saving as a backup. Storage is easy enough to manage for archiving and I love that it syncs so if I go back to edit a photo, it will upload the changed version so my online copy stays current without me having to do anything!
The nice thing about Picasa is that it doesn’t store your photos inside the program. It simply displays the ones you tell it to find by searching specific folders on your computer. Of course, you simply need to tell it to look in the PICTURES folder as you just put everything there in nicely organized fashion! Woohoo!
Another cool point is that when you edit a photo in Picasa, your original file stays safe. You can make all the edits you want but they won’t save until you say so. Even then, Picasa makes a new version of the edited photo, leaving the original safe. It knows that many of us tend to get carried away with editing and can’t “undo” enough to start over. So it saves our butt for us automatically. Gotta love that!
WHY NOT IPHOTO
Well, I never really liked how iPhoto seemed to hold my actual photo files hostage in its hidden libraries, among other hiccups, and that led me to migrate to Picasa several years ago and I’ve never looked back.
Now with Apple announcing last summer that it will soon retire iPhoto, I’m even more thrilled with my decision! By the way, Apple also killed off Aperture, the more-pro version meant to battle Adobe’s Lightroom. Both prior Apple photo programs will become the sometime-to-be-released Photos for Mac (the world’s lamest name for a product if you ask me). The promise for an “early 2015” release, which some estimate to be by April, but the latest scoop is questioning even that deadline now.
If you have been using iPhoto and feel confident about it, fantastic! Or if you still want it no matter what I say, then click the app logo to download it now. I wish you luck! When Photos is officially released, I’m sure it will be designed to seamlessly transition your images (and all their metadata) into the new software. So you can choose to wait and see what it’s like or make the move to something else now. Your call. But whatever work you do should be safe if you make the conversion to a system that accepts your current software’s metadata files. Not to scare you, but that’s the key!
If you’re using a different software program that does not play well with others, all your hard work could be wasted if the tags, captions, keywords and such are only specific to that software and will not “stay” with your image when it is exported. Do a little research to ensure that your metadata would make the move too!
I DON’T DO WINDOWS
I did confess I had a PC laptop for my scanners but I only use it as a tool to run the machines. Once the images are scanned, I copy them onto a USB flash drive and plug it into my Macs for importing into Picasa where I go from there. However, I realize that there are probably a few of you PC people who want a Windows solution.
Your “iPhoto” option — as in free, included with every computer — is Windows (Live) Photo Gallery. It will do almost anything Picasa does I’m sure. But again, if there’s a free PC-compatible software program designed specifically for photo management, why wouldn’t you try it? Picasa also works well in households with computers (or phones or tablets) on both platforms as it’s universal. Learn one and everyone is on the same page.
YOUR FAVORITE STARS So now that I shared with you my favorite photo management program, I want you to download it (100% free), follow the simple directions to let it load all your images from your PHOTOS folder. It will show all your nicely labeled & organized year, month & event sub-folders for easy reference.
Then you get to have fun picking YOUR favorites! One cool feature in Picasa (there are many so I may say that often in the next 10 days) is that you can simply STAR a photo as a favorite. You can do this a couple ways from inside Picasa. One by one: as you are viewing a full-size photo, click the star underneath it to apply the “star” favorite tag. Multiples: Shift-select several thumbnails in a folder & then click the star to include them all as favorites.
Why bother you ask? I’ll show you why. At the top center, you’ll see a filters menu that starts with a tiny star. Click it once to “show starred photos only.” It sorts out your faves so you can see (& share) just the ones you love the most. This way you don’t have to delete the others, or copy or paste them into new folders, or anything complicated. Just click “star” & click “view only stars” to narrow it down to the best of the best!
You may think you’d prefer to rank your photos on a numerical scale or a 1 to 5 stars so you can gauge them along a sliding scale. Other programs offer this option and it’s really your choice but for me, it’s an added level of decision complexity. Because if you really think about it, are you going to keep the photos that you would mark as 1s or even 2s? You shouldn’t! Just delete them right on the spot! I doubt you’ll miss them because you really don’t love them enough. It’s okay. They don’t mind.
If you would give your photo 5 stars, it gets a star. If your photos are borderline 3 or 4 stars, they should just stay in the folder as is. They are your “supporting” cast of actors; not the leading stars. It’s that easy.
If you had to try to pick a number between 2, 3 or 4, chances are you’d spend too much time debating it in your head than it needs. And then you’d dread doing this process in the first place. So you’d stop. Not good. That’s why I’m a fan of either YES (star), OK (supporting) or NO (delete). Simple. Gut instinct. Go!
I’m not sure if you had more fun clicking through your pics to hit DELETE or if you’ll enjoy clicking to STAR them instead, I suppose it depends on your personality or mood. I’d assume more happy & positive people prefer the STAR process, and those feeling grumpy or revengeful might get a little satisfaction from hitting DELETE.
Now if you are just reading all of my how-to posts before you actually do any of them, I suppose you could TRY to combine both DELETE & STAR tasks into one step. Although I don’t believe you will work as fast because your brain will be trying to think on extreme opposite ends of the spectrum — finding the very best AND very worst. It might be more productive to give your full focus to either deleting the duds or starring the favorites.
DAY 5: 2/3/15: 15 MINUTES. YOU’RE A STAR! FIND YOUR FAVES!
Set your phone’s timer or stopwatch for 15 minutes and download Picasa to your main computer. Follow the simple instructions to set it up and have it find the photos in your main PHOTOS folder. Once it’s done with that (don’t count this as part of your 15 minutes), open your 2015-01 photo folder (& any event sub-folders if you have them) to view the pics. You can control the size of the thumbnails by using the slider at the bottom right. Or you can double-click to view it at full-size.
Decide if it’s a STAR or not. If so, click the small white star under the photo. It will turn YELLOW! If you change your mind, simply click it again. White is off. Yellow is on. Use the arrow key at the top center to click to the next photo in your folder and keep moving through your photos this way. No need to spend time now doing any editing, tagging or captions…all that will come in due time…starting tomorrow!
If you don’t need to see them full-size, you can click the STAR to any selected photo in the thumbnail library viewer as well. Should you need to save time and STAR several photos at once, you can select the first one you want, hold down the SHIFT key and click on the last one you want which selects everything in between those two photos. Now when you click star, all of them will be favorited. A more useful shortcut may be the Shift-CMD (MAC) that allows you to select several specific photos that are not all in a row.
Go through as many of your photo folders as you can, working backward in time. There are no rules for how many STARS you can have in a folder, but you should not have all photos be stars! Be a little selective your first time through. Try to choose your best ones that matter the most.
Think about it like this…you’re in an elevator and you want to show someone your favorite photos from this certain folder. You don’t have a lot of time. Which ones do you pick? Now it doesn’t have to be just 3 or even 10 if it’s a folder of 100 photos but it should be a significantly smaller percentage of the total. I don’t want to give you any hard, fast numbers to follow because it’s not about that. It’s about choosing the best photos you love and the ones that best represent an event or moment that you captured in your life. That’s what matters more.
Obviously, as you’re doing this STAR process, if you find a photo (or 2 or 10) that you maybe missed during your DELETION day yesterday, feel free to handle it now. Don’t save it another second! Get rid of it! You can either right-click to choose “delete from disk” or find that option under the FILE menu. But deal with it now while you’re here and have your mind made up.
In summary, your DAY 5 DUTIES:
DOWNLOAD PICASA & INSTALL IT FOLLOWING THE SIMPLE STEPS.
HAVE IT FIND YOUR PHOTOS INSIDE THE MAIN “PHOTOS” FOLDER WHERE YOU JUST ORGANIZED THEM BY YEAR-MO FOLDERS (& EVENT SUB-FOLDERS IN SOME CASES).
OPEN YOUR MOST RECENT PHOTO FOLDER & VIEW THE IMAGES WHILE DECIDING WHICH ONES EARN A STAR (FAVORITE) DESIGNATION.
MOVE QUICKLY & WORK BACKWARD IN TIME THROUGH ALL YOUR PHOTOS UNTIL YOU’VE CREATED AN INITIAL HIGHLIGHT REEL OF YOUR WHOLE COLLECTION.
REWARD YOURSELF BY CLICKING THE “ALL STARS” FILTER AT THE TOP & NOW FLIP THROUGH EACH FOLDER TO SEE YOUR ONLY BEST PHOTOS. ISN’T THAT AWESOME & TOTALLY WORTH THE EFFORT? YOU GET A GOLD STAR!
In the end, if you think you have far too many STAR photos in relation to your total photos, you probably got a little too star-happy in your first pass through. That’s okay but now take a second, more-critical look at the ones you starred. Try to be more selective and remove a few stars now that you’ve seen the folder as a whole.
Sometimes you need a second (or third) pass through to really notice the ones that stand out. Those are the ones truly worthy of stars. The others are just supporting cast members. They aren’t bad photos at all — just not THE shots that would crush your soul if they were accidentally deleted and gone for good.
TALKING TIME LIMITS
If you have a zillion photos in your collection, this process could take you more than the 15 minutes, especially if you have to download and install Picasa first. But it is an enjoyable step that you should NOT overlook or skip. Forcing yourself to choose your very best favorite photos will prove priceless in the next 10 days of this process. If it takes you another 15 minutes, so be it. Have fun looking back at your memories & finding your favorites!
Happy Groundhog Day! I guess you’re only happy if your team won last night and if Phil didn’t see his shadow, which means spring is on its way. Although after the huge snowstorms across the Midwest and East, Phil might need a shovel or snowblower to even get out.
GROUNDHOG DAY DO-OVER Who remembers the 1993 classic movie named for this day starring Bill Murray who gets caught in a time loop that makes him live February 2nd over and over again? If you keep doing the same “nothing” with your digital photo files, you’re going to keep getting the same results — a whole lot of nothing! Take this opportunity (TODAY) and my #15in15in2015 plan to take action at last and break the cycle of doing nothing. You’ll be so thrilled you did!
DIGITAL DILEMMA — SHOOT FIRST, NEVER PRINT LATER 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.
Sure, 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.
It’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?
DIGITAL 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, you upload photos the morning of February 1. Chances are, the photos are technically all taken in January, 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 02-01-2015 folder date would be misleading in this case?
DELETE 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.
Your 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 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 shoot 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.
But 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.
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: 2/2/15: 15 MINUTES. GROUNDHOG DAY DO-OVER: 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:
OPEN YOUR 2015-01 PICTURES FOLDER & VIEW THEM LARGE ENOUGH TO DECIDE TO DELETE OR KEEP EACH PHOTO.
MOVE QUICKLY THROUGH ANY SUB-FOLDERS & THEN WORK BACKWARD THROUGH 2014 & PAST YEARS UNTIL YOU’VE ELIMINATED ANY EXTRAS.
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.
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!”
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.
WHOA 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 routine 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.
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!
TALKING 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.
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.
What’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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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 purposefor 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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
You’re back! I’m glad you weren’t too overwhelmed by yesterday’s #15in15in2015 kickoff at the Photo Organizing Pro blog in honor of my birthday. Since we had to cover some initial housekeeping yesterday because it was the first post of the series, 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.
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.
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.
2N = 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.
02-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.
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.
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.
DAY 2: 1/31/15: 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 photos should be in it, right? (If not, please do this first). Adding a sub-folder of 2015-01 becomes home for your most-recent pics. Any photos you shoot yet today will go in there too once you transfer them to your computer. And starting tomorrow, you’ll put the February photos where? In the 2015-02 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 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.
Go back as far as 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:
FIND YOUR PICTURES/MY PHOTOS FOLDER & MAKE A 2015 FOLDER (if you didn’t over-achieve yesterday), THEN A JANUARY (2015-01) FOLDER INSIDE THAT ONE.
MOVE ALL JANUARY 2015 PICS INTO THE NEW FOLDER.
CREATE A 2014 FOLDER INSIDE THE MAIN “PHOTOS” FOLDER.
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.
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.
WHOA 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!