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How To Organise, Store And Save Your Photos

by Samantha Lee (follow)
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Organising Your Photos

Moving the files from your phone or memory card after a photo session is important, so you have space to take more photos with your camera or phone in the future. Whether you share the photos you took during the session on social media, edit them, compress or enlarge them, or print them, you first have to save and store them somewhere.


There are lots of different ways you can go about organising your photos when you move them. It depends on how you remember things. Some people have an easier time remembering things when given certain visual clues, while others find it easier to remember things chronologically.

If you are the latter, and you tend to remember things chronologically, you can copy all your files straight across in one go, because all digital cameras give photos a timestamp so they can be displayed by the time and date they were taken (provided you select this option when you copy them into a folder). Just make sure that your camera’s date and time settings are correct, to avoid confusion. Some photographers taking photos of the same thing or event (such as two wedding photographers) will sync up their cameras to the same time so all the files will still be displayed in chronological order, even when they were taken on different memory cards.

Different camera brands usually have different filenames that are unique to them, and the files will be saved on your memory card with this tag. For example, Nikon files start with DSC, while Canon files start with IMG. However, if you want to rename all your files to something more personal, you can. I use several different types of cameras to photograph things for work, each with different lenses and different settings. Because of this, I like to rename my files to the cameras I used to shoot them.

If you are more of a visual thinker and you tend to remember things based on memories, you might consider organising your photos by their common characteristics. For example, I put all of my beach photos in one folder, all my food photos in a separate one, and so on. It’s just a matter of finding the most common themes in the photographs you take. I have identified mine to be “oceans”, “food”, “graffiti”, “parties” and “buildings”. Photography is a visual medium, so it makes sense to me to me to organise photos based on their common visual identities.

Sometimes you may want to save lots of folders within one category. For example, the original files in one folder, and the edited files in another folder. If you shoot in RAW, you may want to have one folder for RAW files, and a second one for the converted JPEG files. Or maybe you want to keep photos from a holiday in one folder, but order them into the various places you visited. By separating files into several different folders, you won't have to sort through the full list of images every time you need to find certain types of files.


In programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, you can get even more detailed with your organising, by using the metadata section. Here you can include keywords and descriptions, and use colour coding to classify and rate your photos, if you want to. Professional photographers will often use these systems to make it easier to sell their photos to organisations that use metadata, such as stock image libraries or the media.


Backing Up Your Photos

You have two options to back up your photos. The first is storing them on an external hard drive (that come in a variety of shapes and sizes). One advantage to using external hard drives is that you will not need an internet connection to back up your photos, or to access them later on.

Some of the disadvantages include the fact that hardware is susceptible to breakdowns and viruses, which poses the risk of losing your files. Another disadvantage is that, as systems evolve and update, the hard drives of today may no longer be accessible through the computers we use ten years from now. Generally, if you use an external hard drive to back up, it's good to have two hard drives in case one fails, or to also save the files on a disc, USB or a computer hard drive.

Cloud storage is the second option, and includes services like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive. You'll need an internet connection to be able to store and access your photos on cloud services, but the major advantage of using them is that you can look at your photos on lots of different devices, and can transfer lots of files to other people without having to email them individually.

I like using Dropbox because it also has an app that you can download on your smartphone, which makes it easier to transfer files from your computer to your phone to send to different people via text message, or to share in social media apps, like Instagram. Using Dropbox for my personal photos allows me to use my smartphone photography apps (such as VSCO) to edit photos I’ve taken using my digital camera.


The downside to cloud services is that they usually only offer a limited amount of storage before you have to pay to store large quantities of photographs. If you prefer a larger data storage alternative, Flickr is a basic photo storage website that gives you a terabyte of free space, and stores all your photos by date. However, Flickr is also a photo sharing website so you have to be careful about selecting your privacy settings so other people can't see or download your photos.

Ultimately, the way you decide to organise and store your photos should make it easier and faster for you to access them, and optimise your ability to share them with other people. Most importantly, it should help to prevent your special moments from being deleted or lost.

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