I confess. I still have boxes of photographs tucked in somewhere in the basement. Keeping tabs of what photo has always been a problem especially after my kids were born. I never put these in albums or labeled. This means that if I want to find a particular photo, there is a real possibility I would need to search everything.
To solve part of that problem, I have started the process of digitizing these. Digital photos are so much easy to search through. But you can still end up with a big clutter of unmanageable photos if you do not have a system.
Box and Pen
This is the easiest method I’ve used but it is only good for a few photos. Basically, you put your photos in an envelope or similar container. Write pertinent information on the envelope and put these all in a box for safe keeping. Tried and true but not for the digital age. A slightly more advance version of this is to create a database using a notebook, spreadsheet or some other software to keep track of things. With the database or spreadsheet, you can make low-resolution scans of photos and create thumbnails you can refer to make locating what you need easier. This still takes plenty of effort. In more than a few times, my kids and others are able to get their hands on the boxes and manage to make the database much useless.
Plain Directory, Explorer or File Manager
If you are going to take the time to scan your photos, then you might as well make high-quality scans. Once you have these, then organizing these in your hard drive or cloud makes sense. In general, I struggled with how to organize photos and documents. The same criteria apply. I started out creating folders based on the occasions. For example, I would have a folder called ” California Vacation 2015″ and drop all my photos in.
This method works because it is an electronic version of the “Box and Pen”, there is familiarity and it works. I can show off my photos and kids will not mess things up.
Modern desktop operating system has a search function. You may have guessed that I do not have the habit of changing the file names of the photos into descriptive names. I can search using the folder name which does not give me much. I took the ideas of keywords and tags and created a text file that I include in the folder. The text file includes information about the occasion, date, maybe about the people in the photos. It is not very specific but it helps narrow down a search.
The desire to search and locate exact files means more information must be provided. The text files are good for narrowing down the search but it is even better if more information can be attached to each file. Descriptive file names are awkward. This is where specialized software comes in. This allows us to add tags, comments and other information that can be associated with a specific photo. For this purpose, I have chosen to use the open source Digikam. There other options like Google photo or Flickr. It is not my purpose to discuss the pros and cons of each. There are many sites that can provide you that. In the end, it is up to you to try out and find out which software will work for you.
I am only at the beginning stage of using Digikam. I have to go back through my archives and update files I deem interesting enough for future use. I can update information for each file. One feature I enjoy is the ability to search photos that are in different folders or even drives. There is no need for me to move existing photos into a common directory.
© 2016, Norman Talon. All rights reserved.