One of the things I wanted to tackle while on maternity leave is my "collection" of photos taking up space on my hard drive.

Now. If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I am not what anyone would consider a "good" photographer. I take approximately 300 pictures for every 1 I dare to post, and that should tell you a lot. (See amazing artistic photo below.)

Also, I have no idea how people who ARE actually good – and prolific – photographers, like my partner Cat and my IRL-bff Emily, organize their digital lives. Are they really good at deleting the bad pictures? Are they really good at managing external hard drives? WHERE DO THEY PUT ALL THEIR PICTURES? Because not all of them go online, so...? What is the magic process that I don't know about?

I mean, I go a few weeks without exporting my pictures from my iPhone to my computer, and next thing I know I have to manage 426 pictures and after sorting, deleting, exporting, saving, etc. I've lost hours of my life and saved approximately 7 photos.

I can't be the only one who is a digital mess, right?


I have, actually, gone through allllllllllll the pictures I have on my hard drive since the beginning of time and put them into folders and then put them onto Photobucket* and we're about 75% of the way done with that process and I have to say that even I am shocked at the quality of some of the pictures that have been taking up space in my life.

Like this one:
This photo was both in a random photo on my hard drive AND in my iPhoto library. So glad I've been saving such a gem! In THREE places!

So really. Please tell me how you manage your bazillion photos. Other than deleting more pictures in real-time, what do you do? How do you do it? Because I don't ever want to go through this process again.

*I know Flickr is prettier, but I find its usability to be fancy and cumbersome in ways I don't need.


  1. I immediately delete any photo that is obviously not a keeper from the camera. I then import to Lightroom for editing/cataloging. On my first pass through, I flag the ones I want to keep. I have the hard drive space to keep everything I've ever shot.

  2. I delete pictures I'm 100% sure are bad immediately. Other times I delete them when I go through them in iphoto.

    I tag everything in iphoto with the appropriate comments every time I import - which is often. (cmd+click is useful here) Sometimes it's ambiguous like "food" or "around town" but other times it's "2011 Birthday" or "2010 Christmas". (Events and such) It makes them easier to find. I also have a "favorites" album that I will drag the best or most memorable pictures into because I only leave 18 months of pictures on my imac. Otherwise it's overwhelming. The rest I back up every time I do time machine backups so I won't lose anything.

    The hardest part is getting caught up when you've never done it. Once you're organized, for the most part, keeping up with it will be a lot easier. I promise. :D

  3. Darn it, I hoped you would get some awesome advice that meant a TON less work for me.
    B/C between cluster feedings and blowouts, this photo organizing project (yes, part of my maternity leave chores too) is going to be impossible.

  4. Hi! Here's a couple of tips: think more and take less pictures, then stop using an iPhone and use a real camera (that should simplify things a lot), and finally stop using the iPhoto library (Just manage pictures directly on your computer after saving them). And if you still got too many of them, get yourself an external HD and store them there... Hope this helps! Good luck!

  5. I got screwed losing photos even with double back-up because I fried my laptop and timemachine at same time. After months and tons of $$ to try to save my little gu'ys 0-2yrs for which I had printed virtually NADA... I learned a very big lesson from the tech-support lady at the $800 data-recovery place that could not help me:

    "Honey... (insert Southern drawl)... until it's printed it's just code."

    She continued... "Think all those CDs you're backing up will be the medium of choice when you're 70? That those USB drives will work?"

    Now I take the best of the best and quick (not fancy) make Shutterfly books. A couple per year.

    I agree with you that it's a TON of work. I suck at getting IPhoto organized or Faces labeled or even photos named. But I just upload, name album 2011.01.01 (Jan) by month so albums sort chronologically and alphabetically... and then I just upload a quickie selection to Shutterfly straight from IPhoto. Hope this helps... I tell all my mom friends to not just rely on digital archives now.

    Good Luck. It's a bear. But ENJOY that baby more than the chores you set out for yourself for maternity leave. :-)

  6. I just have a folder named "Pictures" and subfolders for the month/year. Such as "July 10"

    So when I drag and drop pictures from my camera to my hard drive, I throw them in the appropriate folder, than quickly view them deleting the ones that are bad. Then delete all pictures I copied from my SD card.

    That way when I'm looking for pictures it's easy, most of the time I remember the month they were taken, or more or less the time.

  7. I use flickr, which I'm guessing is similar to Photobucket. I sort first and save the good ones sorted by event / occasion (I can't just use dates as wouldn't ever remember those). Also use tags for things like pics of partner / self / home so I can find those easily if I need something. ↲Love the idea of creating a photo book - I really miss good old fashioned albums.

  8. I pay for an annual Zenfolio account to store them online somewhere as a backup. Then, we put , all of them on a flash drive. I delete bad photos immediately, too.--Jennifer

  9. since i have over 4200 images on my phone alone, i am the wrong person to ask. #badbadbecky

  10. Just lose them in the hoard. It'll all be fine.

    Won't it?

  11. I'm the opposite of organized about 87% of the time (and thats a generous estimate), but I've had some good luck with Picasa through google. Its a free download and it automatically scans your computer for images as well as updates when you transfer photos from your camera. Everything is organized by date, with easy to flip through thumbnails, etc. Anyway, its a daunting task, I know--good luck! --Kate

  12. Agree with @BobMac - Immediately delete any photos that aren't keepers. It'll save MUCH time later on. Picassa is a great and easy tool for organizing photos and basic editing. Plus, it is integrated with Blogger.

  13. @Gisela. Did the tech lady tell you that color pictures also fade in time?
    @Carla. The least complicated, the better! I guess the way you do it is the best!

  14. see Hitachi Life Studio ( - I just purchased this external drive/organizing system but haven't gotten started yet. My fingers are crossed it will get me through the project you describe above (with same random odd photos saved 3x...)

  15. Simple. 1) Leave all my pics on my camera's memory chip. 2) Lose memory chip. 3) ??? 4) Profit!

  16. There is a new product out called MemoryCloud which stores your photos on the cloud BUT retains a smaller version on your computer. So the huge space-eating photos go live on the cloud and smaller versions (which are perfectly viewable and show-offable) stay on your computer.

    BTW - I love the "gem" you posted above. If I had a nickel for every one of those that I not only took but kept.


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