So you like to take pictures? So do I. In fact, there isn’t a single day when I don’t take a photo or screen shot. With cell phones, DSLRs, and digital technology at our fingertips, we are constantly capturing moments in time. But how do you organize all of your digital photographs so you can use them in the future? Here are 5 tips to help you organize your digital photo storage like a pro!
Tip #1: Consolidate all of your photos into ONE location
I know it sounds simple, but in this digital age, it is anything but simple. Because of my photography business, I have over 100,000 photographs JUST in Lightroom! In addition to photographs in Adobe Lightroom, I have digital photos on my computer, social media, cell phone, e-mail, as well as hard printed copies (which I will address in more detail in a later post). It’s crazy, really. Having too many homes for your photographs creates confusion and makes it difficult to find a photo when you need it. Because of that, it’s important to move all of your photographs into one location.
In order to keep things simple, I have consolidated all of my digital photos into one catalog using Adobe Lightroom. I chose an external hard drive for this purpose that I have linked to my Lightroom account. Consolidating your digital photos takes consistent effort, but it is SO helpful.
Do you want to STAY on top of your photo organization?
Set aside a time weekly or monthly to continue to upload all of your photographs into one location.
By having all of your photographs in one spot, it will make it super easy to file them away and use them to create photo books, slide shows, or blog posts.
Tip #2: Back up your photos
I can’t stress this enough. I lost a hard drive that had wedding photographs on it! Thankfully, I was able to recover the wedding portraits, however, several other files had been damaged and were non-recoverable. I have used BackBlaze to back up my business computer in the past and it has totally saved me. Hardware fails. It’s as simple as that. It’s nice having several options available.
Take time to research a backup storage solution that works for you. One resource that I just found out about for photo backup storage is Amazon Photos. This is included for FREE with your Amazon Prime account. I figure, why not? It allows me to have automatic backups of my hard drives and I don’t ever have to look at it unless I need to. I’m so grateful for this relatively free option. (Keep in mind that this is only unlimited for photos. Videos charge after 5 mb of storage space.) While Amazon photo storage does a great job backing up your photographs, it will not remember your edits or file organization. Be sure to also backup your Lightroom Catalog in another location.
Tip #3: Organize your date specific photos by year, month, and subject
The biggest thing that has helped me with my digital photo storage is to sort the photos by year, month, and then by subject. In order for the photographs to show up in chronological order, I label the months as follows: 01 for January, 02 for February, 03 for March, etc. This way my folders stay in chronological order. Instead of writing out the month, I simply use the number and then write a brief description of what photos are inside.
For example, I went to Bryce Canyon National Park in January 2020. Normally Lightroom organizes the photos by month and then by the day of the month in which the photos were taken. While I can’t remember when I went to Bryce Canyon National Park, if I label the folder “01 Bryce Canyon” then I can quickly look down my list, find it, and know that I went to Bryce in January 2020. This method of digital photo organization has saved me hundreds of hours searching in each folder for a specific photograph.
Organizing date specific photographs chronologically allows me to keep track of when events happened. I love journaling and genealogy and I have found this to be the best solution for me.
Tip #4: Organize your non-date specific photos by category
There are some cases in which the dates do not matter for my photographs. In this case, I have also made a few separate folders sorted by categories. This method is a great solution for organizing non-date specific digital photographs.
For example, I am a stock photographer. A lot of my stock photographs are of food or landscapes. By sorting my digital photos by category, I can easily find my all of my stock photography quickly and easily. The same goes for the hundreds of photos and videos my children have taken with my cell phone. I don’t need to know when the lego stop animation photos were taken, rather my kids need them all in one place so that they can use them to make stop animation movies. Organizing these photographs all in one folder saves tons of time.
In addition to my own personal photographs, I also ran across photos that weren’t mine. I’m temporarily putting them in their own folder so I can deliver them all at once and then delete them.
Another quick tip is to create a “To Sort” folder. I mass dump all my photos to the “To Sort” folder when I first import them. From there, I can delete unwanted photos and drag and drop the rest into their proper folder quickly and efficiently.
Tip #5: Use collections for further digital photo storage organization
Utilizing collections in Lightroom is another game changer for your digital photo storage and organization. This is where both methods of organization can come together.
The Adobe Lightroom collections feature allows you to keep your photographs filed by date and category, but also allows endless opportunities to organize them any way you want. Think of this as old fashioned photo boxes where you can sort to your heart’s content. This allows me to micro manage photos without having to move them from their original location.
For example, I love to blog about National Parks. I have visited Bryce Canyon National Park on several different occasions. As I make annual family scrapbooks, my photos for Bryce Canyon are filed chronologically. When I blog, however, I don’t just want photos from one trip to Bryce, I want ALL of my photos from Bryce Canyon National Park so that I can choose my “favorites.”
Introducing the “collection.” To help with this project, I can create a collection of all of my Bryce Canyon photos. This doesn’t change my filing system, but allows me to see them all in one place, regardless of the date. You can further organize collections into sub-collections (like I did with the different locations at Yellowstone). This helps me know which photos to use for each individual blog post and location.
Making collections has countless applications. I’ve made Father’s Day slide shows, graduation projects, as well as collections for my photography clients.
In addition to these, I’ve also created collections to keep track of my stock photography submissions. I like to sell my photographs through stock agencies (you can too! Click here to become a contributor.) To better organize my photos, I can make a collection of all the photos I want to submit for each agency and put them in a collection called “to submit.” Once they have been submitted, I then move them to a selection called “submitted.” With new stock agencies opening up all the time, this allows me to see which agencies I have submitted photos to and which ones I have not.
The nice thing about using collections is that you can point to the same photo in multiple collections without changing the location of the photo. As you can see, collections are a huge time saver.
While organization initially takes time, once you set up your digital photo storage it will be totally worth it! How do you organize your digital photographs? Share your ideas in the comments below!
Get out and take some pictures!
Do you love National Parks as much as I do? Click this link to subscribe to Vezzani Photography and get a
To purchase some of my photographs through the stock agency, visit Shutterstock or contact me today!
Please note, this website contains ads and affiliate links. Thank you for your support and for making this site possible!