Digital photography promises much. Store your photographs on your computer, print them when you want, email them to friends and family – share them to your heart’s content. Couldn’t be easier, could it? So how come that for most of us storing and sharing our photographs is a bit of a nightmare?
The ease of using a digital camera is its very undoing. It’s easy to take some shots and then ‘work on them later’. The trouble is that ‘later’ doesn’t happen often enough and we build up a huge backlog of images that we have to sort and process. That’s where things start to get untidy. Very soon you won’t know what you’ve printed or you won’t be able to find the original file of that cute shot that your wife wants a copy of.
So what’s the answer? As the Greek philosopher Hesiod put it nearly 3,000 years ago, “It is best to do things systematically and disorder is our worst enemy.” You need to plan a system for processing your photographs and be systematic in everything you do
You probably remember that after the thrill of your first digital camera, you began to realize some of its limitations. Without a computer or other digital device, it’s hard to share them with granny or the cousins back home. You realize that you have to have traditional prints to pass around and share.
So the planning system you adopt must cater for both digital and physical prints – you need a single system that organizes both and ensures your precious memories are stored forever.
Here’s a six point plan to establishing your own system.
1. Decide how you want to organise your photographs
Without a system, you’ll just get a list of meaningless file names. The longer this goes on, the harder it will be for you to find the photos that you want.
You’ve got to have a system – a way of organising – one that suits you. I choose to organise my photos by event – but you could do it by date, by family member or by whatever is meaningful to you.
Under ‘My Pictures’ on my hard drive, I have four sub-folders – Family, Business, Holidays and ‘The Best’. The first three are self-explanatory; ‘The Best’ is where I keep images of which I’m particularly proud.
2. Create mirror images on both your computer and photo album
People love traditional prints so no matter how proud you may be of your computer skills, to really share your photos with friends and family, you’ll need physical prints to pass around. And to get the most from your memories you should have a single system that runs across both.
Once you’ve decided on your system – use the same categories on both your computer and your physical photo album.
3. Taking your photos
Snap away happily but don’t carry around useless photographs on your camera or waste your time downloading them before deciding to bin them. As soon as you’ve taken photographs have a quick look at them and dump the ones that don’t look special. Be ruthless and immediate.
4. Downloading back home
The temptation is to rush and get the exciting photos on the machine. This is where discipline is needed. You need to have an uninterrupted session. If you can arrange that easily fine. If you can’t you should set aside a regular time once a week to do all your photographic work.
There are four tasks:
- Download your photographs onto your hard disk
- Edit them, e.g. get rid of red eye
- Give each file a meaningful name with a date – so instead of ‘P1010012’ use ‘Sarah on the beach 07/03’
- Save them in the appropriate folder.
Now make a back up copy. This is essential – you don’t want to risk losing your images. I use a ZIP drive for back-up.
5. Print your photographs
Plan what prints you want, print them and put them into your album immediately. Update your album index as you do so.
6. Store them and show them (but don’t ever give them away)
Never give your album photographs away. If someone wants a copy, resist the temptation to hand them your album copy. Instead, print them a new one or email them a digital version.
Kesh Morjaria is passionate about organising and runs Arrowfile.com. He provides an extensive range of organizing products that are used not only in the home but by professional photographers, collectors, local government, museums – even police forces. You can find the full range at http://www.arrowfile.com.