Archive for March, 2012

Organize Those Digital Photos!


For those of us who remember taking photos on film, the embrace of digital photography has certainly been a change in kind rather than degree.  It may surprise us to hear that many brides do not want the traditional wedding albums that their mothers had (last year I didn’t sell a single one!).  Our photos do not live in albums anymore; they live in our computers and the city is in desperate need of some urban planning.

To continue the metaphor, the first thing to do is get rid of the eyesores; do this without mercy. We take many, many digital photos, but taking them should not necessarily mean keeping them.  Start by deleting the blurry photos and continue onto the duplicate shots.  Keep only the best.

Next, create multiple, self-contained neighborhoods to minimize sprawl (separate folders in My Pictures). Take some time on this step; you are designing the street hierarchy of the city.  I think that big events make the best folder categories (Holidays, Vacations, Graduations…).  Within each broad category, include meaningful sub-folders (Holidays à Easter àEaster _2012). When you get down to the street name (the lowest folder in your hierarchy), give your photos an address (rename the files).  So my photos from this Easter will live in the Easter 2012 folder and be named: easter_2012_01, easter_2012_02 and so on. To rename all of the photos at once, look for a “batch rename” option in the software that accompanied your camera.  In Windows: sort all of the files by date in ascending order (this is probably your default setting), select all of the files, right-click on the first file and choose “Rename.” Give that file the desired name and press enter; Windows will give that name to all of the photos with a number (1, 2, 3 …).

Now you need to create a city directory (add metadata to make your files searchable). As we discussed last month, metadata is in the “Details” tab of the “Properties” listing (right-click on the file). Your camera will have added quite a bit of information about the photo, the most useful are the time and date (check your camera regularly to make sure it’s right). If you want to add a description of the photo, make sure it’s additional information.  For example, don’t waste your time adding “Easter 2012” to the comments and title sections, that’s already in the filename.  Add something extra, like where the photo was taken or who is in it.  For Windows Live Photo Gallery users, tagging photos (adding keywords) is the way to go (every computer running Vista or newer should have this factory installed).  Its biggest selling point is the ability to save custom tags; this increases the chances of using the same keyword each time. I find it preferable to use tags with new photos and comments/titles with older (scanned) photos; I tend to write in complete sentences for the older photos rather than use keywords.

Finally, now that you have established the statutes of your photo city (Picturopolis?, Jpegville?, Tifftown?), you must abide by them.  Follow the same steps each time you import photos from your camera and you’ll be winning public design awards before you know it.