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Managing Your Digital Photo Monster

05/15/2012 2:16 PM | Anonymous

by Rachel Jenkins of ScrapMyPix

If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mounting numbers of photos that you are collecting on your computer hard drive, you might want to read on.  It doesn't take a great deal of research to know that our generation of digital picture takers probably takes more pictures at a single event like a birthday party or vacation than our parents took in 30 years or maybe even a lifetime. I don't have to look far for affirmation when I see how many pictures there are of me as a kid compared to the number of pictures I've taken of my kids. It's not a reflection of my parenting. I'm not saying I love my kids more than my parents loved me. Or at least, I don't think so.

It's become so easy to take 100's of pictures in just a few hours, and it feels free doesn't it? Until you have to spend the time to sort through the photos and figure out which ones to keep and how to organize them. Our parents (and those of us that have spanned both the film and digital generations) had to pay for film and to develop the photos whether they were good or not. There were limitations of 24 or 36 pictures per roll, and we took just one or two pictures of a particular subject. There was a time we exercised self control when it came to releasing that shutter button because each click cost us money. My, how things have changed.

When I work with clients and their photos, my main goal is to help them let go of the guilt they feel about "neglecting" their photos.  It's my goal to help clients enjoy their photos again and not feel overwhelmed by them.  We take photos to remember our family and friends and the feelings those times elicited.  It's hard to remember those events when they're hidden on the memory cards, so I'm going to give you some tools to reclaim those memories. 

It's time to start some new habits.

  • If you've got a box of flash drives and memory cards, get them downloaded onto your computer.  Then start with the most recent and work backwards.  Trust me, you'll feel better about what you accomplish. How can you feel behind if you're working on current pictures right? Before you reformat that card, make sure your pictures are on your computer. When you are ready to clear your card, use the reformat option on your camera and don't just use the delete button on your camera. It's better for all those new pictures you're going to take. 
  • Moving forward, commit to downloading your photos after each event or at a maximum at the end of every month. Don't wait until your memory card fills up. By then you potentially have 400+ photos to sort through.  We know what happens right?
  • Set up a rating system and stick with it.  It will help you determine what pictures to keep, what pictures to display and share, and which pictures to delete, delete, delete. Yes, it's okay to delete. Most photo organization software applications have a star rating system you can use. Here's what I do:
  • 5 stars = Pulitzer Prize  (I don't have any of those)
  • 4 stars = My favorite and worthy of the wall or special display
  • 3 stars = I want it in an album
  • 2 star = I like it but not enough for an album (eventually I may delete these too)
  • 1 star = Delete. Once you've gone through your photos for a particular event, then you go back and run a search on all your "1 stars" and delete them. Ah, purging...it feels so good.
  • Set up a time at least once a month to move your pictures from your camera to your computer. 

Finally, put together a backup strategy so you safeguard those precious memories and maybe practice some self control with the shutter button! You don't really need 10 pictures of the same pose. It will save you time in the end game of taming the digital photo monster and give you a chance to be part of those special memories instead of always being behind the camera and at the keyboard.

© 2012 by Rachel Jenkins, ScrapMyPix.  All Rights Reserved.

Rachel is the owner of ScrapMyPix based in Columbia, Maryland. She specializes in preserving and organizing both printed and digital photographic materials. She is a Certified Member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and an Associate Member of NAPO Baltimore.

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