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My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.

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Thursday
May312012

Digital Photo Storage Organization

Back when I used a film camera I used to organize my photos in chronological order in photos boxes and kept my negatives in binders. When I switched over to digital back in 2003 I had to find a good way to sort and deal with all of the digital photo files I now had.

My system has evolved a bit over time, but here it is in a nutshell. On my hard drive I have a folder for every year. Under every year I have a folder for every month and then every activity within that month. I then put my pictures within that activity folder. For the example below I went to Zingermans for dinner in March so those photos are in 2012/March 2012/Zingermans.

That system works well for basic things that happen in a month, but it is insufficient for the photos I take on a trip. On a vacation it is not uncommon for me to snap over a hundred photos in a day and when you multiply that by a week or two it ends up being a lot of photos. To organize trip photos I make a trip folder under the month that the trip occurred and then make sub-folders for each day of the trip with the place that I was on that day. For each day I then make another set of folders about the specific activities/places I saw on that day and then number the folders in order of when I did them on that day. So for the example below, the third thing that I did on March 18 in Rome on my Italy trip was visit St. Peter's Square so those pictures are in 2012/March 2012/Italy Trip/March 18 Rome/03 St Peters Square. Having the sub-folders for each activity on a day is great so that I don't have to try and remember a few years later where a particular photo was taken.

The two exceptions that I have to this system are that I keep the pictures that I take of blog projects in a separate area (but similarly structured) and I keep pictures of my house in folders sorted by room. Overall, I have used my system for a while and it works really well for me to be able to quickly find any photo I am looking for.

How do you organize your digital photo files? What system do you use to easily find photos?

Reader Comments (3)

Great system, very detailed. When I switched to digital I would download from camera to computer to CD monthly and I just filed the CD in year/month order. When in 2010 I moved into more than just chronological scrapping, that started not to work when searching for specific photos that I wanted to work with on special projects. I tried Creative Memories Photo Manager but on the version I have, I find it was not as easy as I had hoped and I hated that the photos stayed on the front screen even after moving them to more detailed files, so I gave up and went back to CD year/month order ............. not very effective. Your organization has given me some good ideas of how (& why) to get serious about a better filing system. The rest of life is very organized so why not my favourite hobby?

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary-Lou

I don't have a detailed system and have been trying to come up with one that will work for me. I take a lot of photos for my geology fieldwork. I think I might try your system and see if it works better for me. Thanks for sharing!

May 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRene

Thank you, Mary-Lou and Rene! I'm glad my system has given you some new ideas.

June 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterLisa

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