Experts predict that in 2021, people around the world will take about 1.4 trillion photographs, many of them while traveling. That estimate, by the digital imaging consulting firm Keypoint Intelligence, includes me—and probably you.
The big question is: What will you do with those photos—and the ones you’ve taken before? The answers usually include throwing prints of vacation trips into boxes or placing them in albums, storing slides in protector sheets, and saving digital images in a computer in a haphazard way. All of this makes it challenging to locate what you’re looking for when you wish to find it.
There is a better way. It will take some time, but with travel somewhat limited and memories of past trips making many people long to relive favorite vacations, family gatherings, and other treasured events, now is a good time to get your photographic house in order. Then you can see the images of the people you love and recall a magnificent setting or favorite experience from a vacation any time you like.
Here are tips, based on my experience and that of experts, about how to take advantage of downtime you might have now or free hours in the evenings or on weekends. Depending upon how many photo images you have, the task may sound daunting, but the ultimate reward will be delightful.
The first step is to find your photos. Try to remember where you’ve stored prints, slides, and digital images and retrieve them. Search your computer and look for files that have a “JPG” extension. Check your iPhone, iPad, and any other devices.
Delete those that are undesirable. Flip through prints, scan slides and peruse digital images, and delete those you don’t wish to keep. Remove duplicates, low-quality pictures, and unwanted memes you might have received. Keep in mind that what might seem to be not worth saving perhaps could, with some cropping and enhancement, be interesting or have some family or other historical value.
Digitize the desirable prints and slides you want to keep for the long haul. Search your prints and albums and consider reaching out to family and friends to see if they have any that they (and you) would like to add to the collection.
Make time to organize. After you’ve pared the images to those few (or perhaps hundreds or thousands) you wish to keep, it’s time to get them in order.
Ana Carvajal, a professional photo organizer and owner of Posterity Pro, suggests that one approach is to organize photos chronologically by year and then get more detailed. Tagging with identification information that travels with digital image files helps computers to search and sort files and folders.
She recommends keeping up with these tasks as images are taken and saved.
“That way,” she explains, “by the end of the year, you should have your photographs tagged for the current year.”
Nasim Mansurov, who writes and teaches about photography, creates a folder for each year and subfolders for events and other topics. Examples might include “Mom’s Birthday Party” and “Trip to Yosemite National Park.”
Back up, back up, back up. Kimberly Komando, a writer and broadcaster on digital issues, joins other experts in stressing the importance of those two words. Many recommend a three-step approach, which entails storing copies in at least two—and perhaps three— different locations. They can include your computer’s hard drive and external drive as well as the cloud. Then even in the worst of circumstances, such as a house fire or your pet knocks over a coffee cup on your computer, you will be able to recover your images and memories.
Naveen Selvadurai, an internet entrepreneur and co-founder of the social networking site Foursquare.com, backs up with iCloud; Carvajal uses a cloud service called Backblaze, and Komando recommends both Google Photos and Amazon Photos, which is included with a Prime membership.
Some people value variety when they’re indexing, organizing, and saving digital images. After a safari trip to Africa, when I couldn’t stop taking photos of an A-to-Z list of animals in their natural habitats, I faced the challenging but pleasant task of culling the images after I returned home. While I had dozens of good pictures of the same animals, I bit the proverbial bullet and winnowed them down to just a few of each species doing something different.
Variety also is called for when creating a photo book to give as a gift. Photos capture much of our lives and those of friends and loved ones. They can help recall fun times, magnificent scenery around the country and the world, special occasions, and other treasured memories.
Photo albums are favorite gifts that Carvajal likes to give to family members and friends. She also uses photos at family nights and other gatherings. These include slideshows where she picks funny pictures of the participants and then waits for the stories they tell.
Using photographs to stimulate memories and mirth is but one benefit of having them organized, identified, and readily available. Making a plan to do what’s necessary is the first step toward achieving that goal.
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2021 Creators.com