Back to Courier Columns Page

by Phil Ball

Q. One of the wonderful things about digital photography is that it costs nothing to shoot, unlike film. Because of that, I've shot freely and now I have an overwhelming number of images. I think it would be a good time this winter to get my images organized, filed, and backed up. The task looks enormous but I have to do something because it can take a long time to find one particular image among the many. Any suggestions?

A. I'd say the first step is to sort through your images and choose the few "keepers" out of the many. Most people, when being honest with themselves, find that fewer than one in ten photos are worth keeping, often even less. The rest may be of sentimental value to you but they are probably not of interest to anyone else and should not be shared. And they complicate the search. The difficulty here is trying to judge our images dispassionately. It can help to have an honest, uninvolved friend helping because they don't share your emotional attachment to your photos.

Now, separate these images. I can't bear to delete my less wonderful shots altogether so I just move them into a separate folder and don't bother to organize them. During most searches for a particular image, you will only need to search your better images and clearing out the clutter will make searches faster and more efficient as well as reducing this task to a manageable size.

To avoid having to search all over your computer to find an image, you need to keep them all together where you can find them. It is easier to do this right in the first place so try to always download your images using the same method each time. When you connect your camera to your computer, Windows puts up a screen saying it has found photos and asks what to do with them. Whichever method you choose, do it the same way each time. Different methods of downloading your photos may file your images in different places making them harder to find.

Published: Courier 12/2/12 - Page 3C