I take a lot of pictures. We're talking thousands of pictures this year, people.
Marcia made a list of 36 things she'd like to accomplish this year similar to my 36 wishes list and one of them included getting a photo system in place. I thought I'd document my photo system and open it up for feedback, suggestions, and comments.
Laura's Monthly Photo Plan
1. At the end of every month, I gather up all the cameras in the house and download all the photos and videos from them. How do I remember to do this? I have a list of chores I do at every month end! These include backing up my blog, changing my contacts, filling out medical flex spend reimbursements, and cleaning out my car.
2. I create one folder for that month and put all files in that folder. My folder naming structure is "Year, Month Number, Month Case Family Photos." This month's folder will be "2010 12 December Case Family Photos". I include the month number so they sort in month order.
3. I review every photo and video and delete like crazy. Every month I have anywhere from 300 to 1000 photos. The more you delete, the more delete happy you will be in the future. Ask yourself:
- Is this a picture I will care about in 10 years? If no, DELETE.
- Is it out of focus, not flattering, too similar to something else... DELETE.
- Does that video suck? DELETE.
This is the hardest part. We all love pictures of our kids. Do you need 30 pictures of your kids doing the same thing? No. Do you need one great photo? Yes.
4. Now that I have a more manageable number of pictures, I review the entire set again and DELETE AGAIN. This will generally bring me down to 20-50 photos for a month.
5. Now that I have my pile of keepers, I batch rename the files via Photoshop to "2010 December 01", "2010 December 02", etc. This is also when I edit, and by edit, I mean I calibrate my monitor and make changes in Photoshop to improve the photos. Often during the editing process, I realize I don't want a particular shot so I delete again.
I AM A DELETING FOOL!
6. When all the photos are edited the way I want them, BEFORE I delete anything off my memory cards, I back them up to a DVD.
7. Then I back them up to my external hard drive. Only when am I comfortable they are backed up in two places do I delete them off my cameras. (My eventual plan is to move to an online backup service.)
8. I upload the pictures to mpix.com, order 4x6 print copies, and wait for them to arrive. I get the back of them printed with the Month and Year. (This is five months of photos):
9. When they arrive, I put them in chronologically ordered photo boxes then pat myself on the back for being so organized. (This is five YEARS of photos):
So... I know the first questions you are going to ask.
Q: Do you really print ALL of your photos?
A: YES. Why keep the digital file forever if you don't want a print? I'm all for online media but in my lifetime, we have gone from 3.5 inch floppies to disk drives to CDs to DVDs. Are you going to transfer those images to the latest media FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?
And do you really think you are going to review them on the computer forever?
Q: Why do you print them all?
A: By printing them, I am assured of only keeping the photos that mean something. I also like to display pictures and make physical albums.
Q: Don't you think two backups is crazy?
A: No. ZERO BACKUP IS CRAZY. It is setting you up for losing ALL OF YOUR PICTURES. And even if both my backups fail, I still have the printed pictures. The ultimate backup!
I've worked in software for 13 years... I can tell some very sad stories about people not backing things up. Here is one sad story.
Q: How can you delete pictures of your precious boys?
A: Deleting photos is like any other skill. The more you delete, the better you will be at deleting. It costs me money to print my photos so it better be an awesome picture if I'm spending money to keep it.
So... this was a lot of information. Any questions? Any suggestions to improve my process?