Photo Organization

CC image from Flickr/JuditK

CC image from Flickr/JuditK


Digital photography has left us with a deluge of photos we can't possibly organize in a meaningful way. Molly Bullard is a full-time photo organizer in Seattle who helps people tame their photo collections.


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Molly's Tips For Photo Organization

Molly says, "When I first meet a client, most of the time they have media from everywhere -- boxes of photos, film, and the digital files that are in their email or on their computer."

For Molly, consolidation is key. "One of the most important things is having everything in one place," she explains.

Organize Your Physical Prints

First, take everything out.

"Literally, pull from the closets, pull from the drawers, and even collect photos or boxes from other family members," says Molly. "I like to think that we're only going to go through this once. So let's start with that in mind."

Then, find a workspace. Designate a dining room table or a back room or somewhere in the basement, and start categorizing. Molly suggests high-level categories like "extended family" or "travel."

When categorizing photo prints, Molly suggests going through loose photos first. Triage each photo by asking these questions:

  1. Do I want to keep the photo at all? Or should I trash it?
  2. Do I want to scan this photo or not?

"So you've got a box of trash, you've got your categories out in front of you. Then it's just a matter of going through them."

If all this seems daunting, don't worry. "It never takes as long as anyone thinks," says Molly.

Organize Your Digital Photos

As with physical photos, Molly says to start by pulling all materials together in one place. Find all your old external hard drives, photo CDs, and camera cards.

The ultimate goal is "one master collection that is securely backed up."

To get there, Molly recommends creating a checklist. For each piece of digital media, ask: "Have we incorporated this into the master? Have we figured out what kind of backup program we're going to use?"

Once you've built a master collection, add keywords to your photos to help with future searches.

"Digital photo files are actually a database," Molly explains. "If we can start thinking of it that way and start using some of the keywording technology in some of the photo programs, everyone will better off."

When it comes to photo backups, Molly thinks cloud solutions are "wonderful," but stresses the importance of keeping up with the payments.

"Just make sure that you know when your credit card is due to expire. I've had a client lose all their photos because their credit card expired."

Listen to Molly explain her tips to Nora:

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Tell us about your photo collection. Do you have any organizational tips or tricks? Favourite software or online services? Let us know in the comments below.

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