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Brilliant Bloggers Share How to Organize Those Bulging Photos Folders

Thanks to Contributors

Bitmoji

From the bottom of my heart I want to thank those of you who contributed to this post.

Why Organize Your Photos?

Terri Webster Schrandt has a photographic memory and can remember when and where she took a picture. Most of us are not like that. I can remember a picture that would be perfect for a post but I can’t find it. I get a lot of requests from friends for pictures for projects or funerals, if I’ve been close to someone. I’m always shocked at how few pictures I can find and how long it takes me. Like Terri, I can remember the picture, but have no idea of time or where I took it.

Our Eyes Open, Bird Weekly Host
Photo by Lisa Coleman

Hugh Roberts organizes photos for his blog so that others can find them including SEO trolls. Janis creates files with broad categories, (Travel, Family and Friends, Local Fun) so she can find what she needs. Sarah was a librarian, so organization is part of her make-up. Carol and I are teachers, so we file photos to teach and share what we know.

But there are some more efficient ways to organize your mounds of photos than my simplistic file folders, but like cleaning the refrigerator, they take some time.

Introduction to Lisa Coleman

Lisa Coleman started blogging in 2019 but has been a photographer and graphic artist for twenty years and has accumulated up to 200,000 photos. We started talking about this topic several weeks ago, and decided it was worth a zoom meeting to explore the topic more. 

Our Eyes Open, Bird Weekly Host
Photo by Lisa Coleman

Lisa has a lot of storage space spread out  over 3 external drives, 2 laptops, a Mac, iPad, 6 iPhones, 10 memory sticks and 9 camera cards. She just purchased a 5 TB hard drive for storage. Like most of us, she organizes them by subject and date.

“I do a little every week. The main goal is to have ALL my photos organized on the new hard drive while keeping all the other cards and drives as an additional backup. Once you get organized, it wouldn’t hurt to put all this data on the cloud somewhere as a different backup. I have a 1 TB external drive that is my working drive like a server for my Etsy Shop and Blog photos.”

Lisa Coleman

When Lisa started blogging, she was interested in birds.

Our Eyes Open, Bird Weekly Host
Photo by Lisa Coleman

“There used to be a Bird of the Day Challenge, but it disappeared, so I started the Bird Weekly Photo Challenge.”

Lisa Coleman

If you forget, her challenge is listed on Cee’s For the Love of Challenges page. I want to explore her Challenge more in another interview. She credits Cee Neuner and Becky of Winchester for being so helpful to her as she got started.

Culling photos or more storage?

Several of you talked about culling photos. 

Hugh said, “delete those photos you know you’ll never use.”

Jason said, “Hugh, decluttering photos is vastly underrated! It helps with productivity, creativity, and staying organized.”

I adore Hugh, but I panicked. How do I know now which photos I’ll never use?  I am a hoarder and my being rebels when I have to throw something away, Tina Schell from the Lens Artists challenges us to repurpose our photos and turn forgotten to favorite. It’s amazing what you can do with ugly photos.

I asked Lisa how she decides what to delete. 

I delete the blurry ones. You can never use them. I take a lot of bursts with a variety of exposures. I pick three or four of the best of those and delete the rest. I also make copies of photos and keep them in different folders. The most important things is that you don’t delete the originals.”

Lisa Coleman

In spite of myself I deleted so many pictures that Microsoft asked me if I had lost my mind. I pulled some of them back out and put them in a separate folder to make sure my mind was still in tact.

So instead of culling, Lisa actually adds photos. Other photographers were more interested in how and where to store and label photos for easier retrieval. Storage is relatively inexpensive. Terri gets Dropbox for $120 per year. Apple costs me $2.99 a month, One Drive comes with Microsoft, Google Photos is free if you have a gmail account. I have several for different purposes. Hard drives range in price depending on their storage capacity.

Erica/Erika asked, “Are two copies on separate hard drives placed in a home safe a good way to preserve photos?” Lisa nodded affirmatively

If you have taken pictures for years and have them stored in different places, the next question is how to label and file the photos.

Tagging or Folders?

The thinking behind what to name files differs from person to person and what they need.

Carol says, “As I download photos, I put them into named folders within folders for each year and place we visit. ”

Susan G says, “At the start of each year I set up a new catalog. Folders and sub folders in the catalog are named by subject. For example, I have a folder called “Nature Photos” and a sub-folder inside of it called “Flowers”. I also tag the photos within each folder so a flower might be tagged “red rose”. When I export my folders out of LR to an external hard drive I generally export them to “same folder as original folder” so the stay organized as set up in LR.”

Erica says, “ I know the approximate date/year/event and go from there. I often immediately categorize into A/B/C depending on how much I like a photo. A super basic A, B, C, helps me when I go back to the photos for more sorting.”

Anne says, “I follow the rules of directories and subdirectories, year, theme, place. Have a Best category within some categories. Use iCloud on PC and phone and Camera. Major Agro is a pictures app on PC. It doesn’t sync pictures. I edit/delete on the phone.”

Lisa and I have two or more sets of files of the same photos. I process for WordPress using Photoshop Elements 15, then store them in an Always Write folder under the name of the challenge. Unlike Lightroom, I can’t organize by tags in Photoshop Elements, but I can make the changes I want to make to the copy like cropping, adding a border, changing the brightness, adding a filter or changing the look completely. Then it is an easy step to process multiple files quickly and reduce the file size for the web, name the files, add my signature, and put them into a folder. 

  • Photoshop Elements15 Instructions
  • processing multiple photos; rose

Until we talked about this all of my larger sized files, which I use to make puzzles or other gifts, are labeled IMG 9602 or something as difficult to find in my Camera Roll by month and year. Except the millions that I took out to make a mega file that I could sort easier. It turned out that I couldn’t sort them at all.

All of us used files, but only Hugh was big on adding tags. My question was how to do that without spending any more money. Lisa was going to try Susan’s idea and use LightRoom because she already paid for all the programs.

Lisa and I talked through all your comments and then spent a good part of an hour experimenting with the File Folders that come free with our computer.

How to Organize Photos using Microsoft Files

Together we opened a file. Lisa took me directly to “View+ in the menu. I always choose “Extra-large Icons” because my vision is blurry, and like Hugh, I’m a bit dyslectic. She took me instead to “Details.”

Using folders and tags
Detail show up in the View tab of the file folder

“You can look at the size of your photos here so you don’t delete your original picture when you are cleaning and organizing. Once you have the pictures sorted by detail, you can change back to “Extra-large Icons.” They will be in the same order as you sorted them.

After our conversation, I tried to figure out how to change a tag faster than one at tag at a time. I also discovered that you could rename your files with just a right click on the any of the selected photos to bring up “Rename” on the main menu. Once you renamed and pressed enter, all the selected photos emerged with the new file name and a number.

  • Using Folders & Tags
  • Using Folders & Tags
  • Using Folders & Tabs

That was so cool, I tried it with tags. It was trickier, but remembering what Lisa said about “Details,” I selected a group of photos, right clicked to bring up the main menu then clicked on “Properties” which is at the bottom of my menu. A screen appears with a menu across the top. Click “Details” on the menu at the top of the box, and select tabs. Click and a box appears to fill in your tabs.

This is wonderful, but like Susan said about Light Room, “I tag my photos right in LR. Unfortunately the tags don’t follow when you export, so I have to tag again on my drive.”

This is not the only time you have to label your photo files. When you export photos to Photoshop Elements 15 (other Photoshop products are different) to be multi-processed, the title disappears but the tag stays. When you export them again to WordPress, the tag is gone again. We will talk more about adding the alt text and all the details in WordPress in another post.

Conclusion

Lisa and I talked about many photo-related topics during our Zoom conversation. We are going to do it again. It was so much fun. I didn’t get to ask her much about her Challenge. So that will be another post as well.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I hope it helps you as much as it helped me. My photos have undergone some radical changes. It’s nice to get on the phone and talk to a real person when you have an issue.

What’s your issue with photography or blogging? There are tons of amazing bloggers out here. I love it when we put our heads together.

Would you be interested in having a copy of all the comments, questions in a Word Document? If so, I’ll polish it up over the next couple of weeks and have it available by download.

96 replies »

    • I’m always looking for a bargain and it’s one less thing to learn from scratch. I’ve learned more about it from Lisa than I’ve known since I started blogging – because we explored it together, then I played with it. Now I’ve got to learn more about WordPress. I’m not finding many of my pictures any more when I search for them. Any ideas?

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  1. thanks for the useful tidbits; I guess such organization is critical for people that deal with photos.

    and what a nice way to collaborate with a fellow blogger. I enjoy Lisa’s posts…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really helpful, although I’m honest enough with myself to know I’ll probably never spend the time it would need to get totally organised and tagged! But it has inspired me to devote a bit of time each day to tidying up the system I already have, renaming some folders and creating sub-folders where needed.

    I mentioned it before but I do find Fast Stone software excellent for speedy renaming of all files in a folder. You can sort them into a preferred order and then rename all with a unique number along with other details such as place and date taken 🙂

    I’m looking forward to your follow-up on adding the alt text and all the details in WordPress. I’m still getting to grips with that side of blogging. Do other people get frustrated with the media library’s refusal at times to upload even relatively small files, for instance?!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad that iCloud dates all my photos as I take them. It also adds a location to them, so I can usually easily find what I’m looking for (providing I roughly know the dates and location). I have a good memory, so it’s not usually a problem.
    I’m still culling photos I know I’ll never use again. Every so often, I also use the Remo Duplicated photo app to get rid of duplicates and anything near a duplicate. It helps save me heaps of space.
    This is a great roundup, Marsha. You’ve become Queen of the Roundups.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think Donna is the queen of roundups, but I’m getting a lot of experience. I need your help on the WordPress organizing post. Sarah just asked why it won’t upload even some of her small files. Could it be a space issue?

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        • Yes. “Do other people get frustrated with the media library’s refusal at times to upload even relatively small files, for instance?!!” I just asked about data storage, but it doesn’t seem that it happens consistently.

          Liked by 1 person

          • It can happen for several reasons, but the most common is that there isn’t enough storage space left in the media library (so you need to either buy more or delete images to free up space), or the file name contains special characters ($, *, &, # …) or accent letters (ñ, á, é …). Rename the image file to remove these characters and then try again.
            I’ve had problems when I try loading a file type that WordPress does not accept. That’s easily overcome by changing the file name to one they do accept, though.

            Liked by 1 person

          • That’s fabulous Hugh. I wouldn’t have thought of those other things. My file system stops me from adding those symbols into the name and I always optimize my photos.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the zoom meeting and screen shots made things clearer for everyone. I use the Microsoft files system. Donna mentioned today that she did a search by word on her Mac I and got a display of images from her word search. So tagging not needed. She will probably give you more details.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, you give me too much credit for my so-called photographic memory, Marsha. I actually do save my edited and watermarked photos in separate files in Dropbox. Like many have commented, I tend to use my newer ones first as most of them are taken with “good” cameras. I do need to delete a few eventually! A post chock-full of great info, thanks for sharing what everyone does.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am in the process of culling from 35,000 images in my Mac Photo collection. From 2012 I have used digital photography. Before that I have almost 70 years of film negatives and slides. Fortunately they are all labelled and stored in order (with prints). I’m not about to trying to cull them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Derrick! That’s amazing! I am doing what you are doing with about the same number of photos. It’s been eye opening how many I can actually toss. I think I’ve thrown about a dozen blurry ones, but the rest have just been record and duplicate shots and a few accidents (like pictures of the sidewalk and my knees. I’m enjoying the process of seeing some photos I haven’t seen for a long time. What type photos do like taking the most?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read this with a sinking heart because I’m rubbish at organising and properly storing my photos. It would be a major undertaking, and I do mean major, to turn my photos into something organised, and so I put it off longer and longer. I tend to use new photos on the blog rather than backtrack looking for something. I need a kick up the butt 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jo, I’m not into kicking up the butt, however, this project has helped me so much to at least get my computer files organized. I don’t have nearly as many as Lisa, but I do have them all spread out. So, lots of work. Sorry about that! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • You share stunning photos on your blog, Jo! I sometimes wonder about going back in time, when each day offers many new photo opportunities. Yet, it is still a happy place getting lost in the memories. 🙂 No right or wrong 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Erica! I did recently revisit Barcelona, and I’m thinking of doing a little backtracking. As you say- happy memories! I get lost in there and forget to come out 🙂 🙂 How’s the virtual challenge going?

        Liked by 2 people

        • Funny you should ask, Jo….I was heading over to the Conqueror App to check my stats this morning. Last I looked over 440km in 50+ days, with another 900 km still to go. lol. It is strangely motivating me to do the extra km. which means an extra evening walk. Now I can have my cake and eat it too……I told you, how visions of desserts appear when I see your name, Jo 🙂❤️

          Liked by 1 person

          • No cake today. Just a few digestive biscuits. Fallen on hard times 🤣. We’ve just come back from a 2 and a half hour walk so probably about 10km and that’s our normal daily effort 😙💕

            Liked by 2 people

          • You are about twice of what we do, and I’m exhausted at the end. Too many digestive biscuits for me, I guess. We are walking at a high elevation, 5300 feet, one mile up but after three months my body should be adjusted to that! 🙂

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          • That must make a difference, I would think, Marsha. I was used to walking with a group that regularly did 12km or more so it’s not hard to maintain our current schedule. It’s just nice to be out 🙂 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I lost .2 pounds this morning and I had hot chocolate last night or I might have lost .3 pounds. It is lovely to be out. I figure in a year or two after keeping this up I might lose another 3 or 4 pounds. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • LOL, and Jo is so slim. Wow, Erica, that’s 273 miles or 5.46 miles a day or about 13,000 steps a day. On a good day, I’m doing 10,000 steps. Our goal was 7,000 a day, but we are wimps on cold, windy, snowy days. 🙂 Still no way to eat desserts, but dark chocolate candy doesn’t count does it?

            Liked by 1 person

    • How about a gentle nudge? The longer you wait, the harder it is. I’m an expert on that type of procrastination. It can be overwhelming but one you take the first step and baby steps after that, it gets easier. Before you know it, you have more organized than you thought possible. I still use old archive photos from my “not as good” cameras way back in the day. Plus I was mediocre at taking photos. Doesn’t stop me from using them and it takes me down memory lane, even for just a moment in time. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent review of our conversation, Marsha! Thank you for the opportunity to help with this project. I had a lot of fun brainstorming with you. I so miss the human element since the pandemic. I hope this helps a lot of people get organized in a manner that helps them. I want to say a special thank you to Susan because her technique pushed me to add more subfolders to my existing folders. I now have a Nature folder with subfolders to include Flowers, Birds, Moon, Reflections, Insects, ect. I have also added a new folder called “Family”. Subfolders include Kids, Grandkids, etc. Inside those subfolders and additional subfolders with each kid or grandchild’s name. I’m so excited and appreciative for the motivation to take my organizing to the next level! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll have to try and do something with my photos album. I haven’t anywhere near the number Lisa has but during a previous upgrade something went wrong with the photos app, so many photos are out of sequence with wrong dates. It’s a nightmare!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hang in there Cathy! I had a corrupted card from 2007. My Nikon had organized it into 4 different sub-folders. Just 2 days ago did I plug it in and got 3 of those good folders transferred to my new drive. Only one has corrupted files. I’m close to figuring out the bad file so I can delete it and get the rest of my photos backed up. I only have a few minutes before the whole card crashes. I’ve avoided it for several years, but Marsha somehow motivated me to stay with it. I was going to take it to a computer guy, but I just saved myself some money by figuring it out myself. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • That does seem like a nightmare, Cathy. I had different dates on many of my files because my computer dated them from the last time I worked with the file. Fortunately I had a few that I hadn’t touched, and the date was correct on those photos. So I renamed them all with that date.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing a very helpful post, Marsha! I am always learning new gems I can apply to my photography, playing with new photo apps and Youtube tutorials. I appreciate Lisa Coleman sharing her wealth of information! Lisa mentioned a lot of storage space spread out, including the camera cards. A photographer friend working for the news places some of his camera cards in a safety deposit box at the bank.

    Regarding your last question, Marsha, I would love a copy of the comments and questions. I am bookmarking this post and I can refer back here, too. I see how this will be an ongoing topic. I greatly appreciate all of your effort gathering and curating information, Marsha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Erica. I’ll probably wait until we finish the second post in a couple of weeks. Then I will pull it together with all the comments like I do with Story Chat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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