One of the most common questions I get while teaching my photography students after they conquer the basics is: How do I manage all these photos? It can feel like a daunting challenge for new photographers, or seasoned, alike navigating the potentially hundreds and thousands of image files you collect and create.
While starting my wedding and portrait business in 2006 I quickly realized I needed a system to keep everything (and everyone) strait. Thankfully I found one I love and have consistently used throughout the years. And now it's the system I teach all my students. As I wind up my year and transfer my final sessions on to my drive, I thought some of you may benefit from learning this simple but effective categorization system. It works great for all photographers, at all levels, with any type of digital camera.
Before we jump in, do yourself a favor that will make your photo-organization life easier: get a portable hard drive (I love G-Tech for large amounts of data and Western Digital for temporary storage). Your computer does a lot for you - it thinks, finds, holds your most precious and sensitive data. Don't also make it store all your photo memories, too. It gets overloaded easily with data (like photo files) that just sit there for long periods of time. It slows things down to a halt quickly; especially the large our digital camera MP (megapixel) counts get.
Once you have your drive, plug it in and start transferring your files. Here's how I organize mine (see image above, working left to right):
The keys to success are: using the system, and not waiting months and months to sort out your events. Do it within a day or two, and you'll keep control of your photo library without it taking over your computer!
Feel free to post your questions in the comments.