The passion for photography is in Peter Bennett’s genes. Passed down for several generations, it had left him with about 500,000 family photos. The birth of his son inspired the pro photographer to finally learn how to store digital photos quickly, after he found his collection growing with dozens of digital snaps of everything from first steps to birthdays.
“My grandfather was a photographer. My uncle, my father,” he said. “We had massive amounts of family photos. I had been organizing my professional photos in detail, but then I realized my personal photos were a disaster.”
He’s learned a lot of organizing tricks since he began scanning old prints and organizing the newly-digitized photos into his current collection. So much so, he now runs FotoFlow Solutions to help other families save their precious memories.
“The whole idea is to develop a system where you’ll do the least amount of work to prepare and prevent getting overwhelmed,” he said. “There’s a huge growing need for this, and I’ve been working nonstop with a lot of people’s collections.”
Three of which included photo collections with more than 200,000 pictures each!
If you’re a photo collector with too many pictures and not enough organization knowhow, keep reading for tips from digital photo specialists to keep your collection picture perfect.
Delete Duplicates and Keep Only the Best Images
To make the most of your digital space, and to save time, delete duplicate photos and only save a few shots from a particular event.
After deleting unimportant photos, Bennett’s photo collection went from a half-million pictures down to about 147,000.
“It’s not uncommon for people to have 10 to 12 copies of (nearly) the same photo in a collection,” said Bennett. “It will save you time to get rid of photos like landscapes, and other images that don’t mean much memory wise. Later, you’ll want to see people and events that spark memories and bring back good feelings.”
Back before digital cameras were the norm, it was common for pictures to be printed in doubles and even triples. Today, photo clutter is even worse thanks to smartphone cameras. You can have 100 photos of your dog saved on your computer without even knowing it!
It’s a problem that Melinda Hollis of Out of the Box Photo Organizing said she has helped hundreds of clients deal with.
“Our ultimate goal is to get the best of their photos into their life,” she said.
Fewer dog photos means more precious memory space – both on your computer and in your mind.
Group and Save Photos by Date or Event
After deleting his outtakes, Bennett arranges his family photos on his computer by date (Year_Month_Date) to see the life events in order. There are computer programs that can help you with this and add descriptions to the photos to make the pictures easily searchable.
“You have to be the editor of your own life story, because you’re the only one uniquely qualified to do it,” he said. “When you see your life from start to finish in photographs, it’s a remarkable thing.”
When dealing with his old, print photographs, he scanned an index card before each grouping of family photos to easily separate and organize the piles digitally.
“After you scan those photos, the first thing will be that index card,” he said. “You’ll then have a visual divider than will help you store them later.”
You can also organize your digital photos by person or by event, said Hollis.
“We jump in and organize photos by person – typically a child – and themes, like holidays or school,” she said. “We let the photos speak to us. If a child loves to play dress up, then we create a scene because our ultimate goal is to share child’s personality and character.”
Store Digital Photos in Three Places
Like with all important documents, copies are important. Our experts suggest storing your digital photos in three places to avoid losing your collection.
“Digitally, you want to have two copies with you,” said Bennett. “One on your computer and a backup on your hard drive. You also want to keep your selected photos on a cloud platform like Dropbox, iCloud, Carbonite, Amazon Photos.”
In addition to having the photos on three digital platforms, you also want to keep a copy in a secure place away from home in case of an emergency or disaster, said Hollis.
“What if your computer was stolen? You’d want a backup,” she said. “Put a copy on an external hard drive and put that into safety deposit box.”
In the future, it will also be important to copy your photo collections onto the latest technology, said Bennett. Imagine trying to view your digital memories on a floppy disk today. Computers are already ditching CD technology.
“These are family treasures that you can’t get back, so we need to be careful to keep our files in a place where we can access them,” Bennett said.