The tall task of organizing my digital photos

That's right I'm rocking my Class of '95 mug

One of my 2013 personal goals is to organize all my digital photos from 2005-2012 so I can 1) find photos when I need them and 2) enjoy them. (I don’t even what to think of all the printed photos and negatives I have to go through as well. That’s a project for an another year.)

I took a look at my external hard drive and I currently I have 228 GB of photos saved to it. I have no idea how many photos that is, but it’s a lot. I also have 11,477 photos uploaded to Flickr. I pay a small annual fee for a pro account that let’s me host an unlimited number of photos on the website. I find it is an easy way for me to share photos and I also host all my blog photos on it as well. Over the last seven years I have used Flickr, my habits and camera equipment have changed many times so there’s a good chance that some of the photos hosted on the site are not on my hard drive. So I’ll have to be careful not to remove any original photos when I work through everything.

I am slowly…working…through…all….the….photos….

It’s a tall task.

Here’s my plan.

  1. Standardize my file names
  2. Organize the files by year and month
  3. Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr
  4. Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book

Bleh, just writing out the process makes me tired. Oh well, it’s going to be awesome when it’s completed.

1) Standardize my file names

Organizing photos

I have been using Adobe Bridge CS4 for a couple of years. It’s Adobe’s version of a file browser and comes when you purchase one of their product suites. I can download my photos from my SD card & phone through it, view thumbnails of all my photos and perform batch operations really easily using it.


I went through each folder of photos I had on my hard drive and renamed them based on their creation date using Adobe Bridge.

Organizing photos

I gave my iPhone photos an extra prefix to distinguish them from my regular camera photos. Once all the files were renamed, I slowly deleted any duplicates from the drive.

2) Organize the files by year and month

Organizing photos

Next I set up folders for each year I have digital photos.

Organizing photos

If I click on the 2012 folder, I have my photos broken down by month. Edited photos are kept in a separate folder within each month’s folder so I know these are the photos I want to upload to Flickr each month.

3) Upload and keep only the “best of” photos to Flickr

Organizing photos

Flickr has a great uploader tool you can download from their website. I upload my edited photos to it and then label them based on the project or event. I can also organize them into a set or tag the photos.

Organizing photos

Once they are up on the site, I can share them with others or use them in a blog post.

4) Use the “best of” photos for each year’s photo book

Organize photos

Last month I worked on my 2012 photo book. I’ve never designed one of these before, but after looking at all my options I decided to use Shutterfly. I was pretty pleased with their website interface and they were running a 50% off promotion at the time so it seemed like a good deal. I went with a 12×12 book with white cover and spine with black lettering so that all the books will match and have a classic look no matter what company I use.

Organize photos

I laid out the pages in chronological order of the year. It’s pretty amazing to look back at your year through photos. I featured many pages of home projects and the cats of course.

Organize photos

There was also some amazing moments like our engagement. Amazingly, I only have the photo of my grandma’s ring from the evening, but plenty from the Color Run earlier that day.

I was pretty happy with the final product. I love having my photos displayed in a book. I think Shutterfly did a great job, but am going to try a few other company’s before I really decide what product I prefer.

This is going to be a long and laborious project, but I am excited to get my photos organized. I seem to take more every year with the convenience of my iPhone so it’s important to get in the habit of organizing them now or never!

Disclaimer – I am not affiliated with Adobe, Shutterfly or Flickr. I paid for all the products mentioned in this post with my own hard-earned money. 🙂

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