The most common question asked - how long does this process take?
In general, I can go through an entire month of photos and edit them in one evening after the boys go to bed. I watch tv or listen to This American Life podcasts while I delete. After I am done organizing, I burn the discs, move the photos to the external hard drive, and order copies.
Megan asked - How do you do a back up? Do I buy an external drive? Like how much do I buy?
There are many ways to back up. You can back up to DVDs. You can back up online (mozy.com starts at $5 a month). You can back up to an external hard drive. It really depends on how much you want to spend. We have our hard drive networked to our computers to easily transfer files back and forth. Space is pretty cheap... I think ours is 1 terrabyte?
Joanna hypothetically asked - If you have been taking pictures for 4.5 years on a number of cameras and you have dumped the photos, often with repeated naming schemes, all over a bunch of different hard drives, how the hell do you fix that enough to be able to institute this wonderful plan?
This is a classic legacy software system problem! Personally I would buy an external hard drive. Create folders for each month of each year. Move the pictures from one computer at a time to the hard drive. Once they are in their appropriate month folder, rename them to something unique then move to the next computer. Break it into manageable chunks so you see progress.
If you have a wireless home network, I would encourage you to transfer files by connecting with a cable directly to the external hard drive. Your internet provider limits wireless file transfer speed.
Beth asked - And do you print matte or glossy pics? Is one better than the other? Or personal preference?
I prefer matte photos because glossy photos reflect too much ambient light (for me). When you come visit in February, I will show you my printed photos :)
Marcia asked multiple questions - you do nothing on a weekly basis? what about blogging? Do you make copies of those pictures as they happen and then still do your big monthly organising thing?
To keep the tutorial brief, I didn't get into what I do throughout the month. I take pictures almost daily, and I post photos on my blog fairly frequently. I have my computer and camera configured so that when I download photos from my camera onto my computer, it creates a new folder with the date.
For example, I took pictures of the boys on our recent ice day. When I uploaded them from card to computer, my computer automatically made a folder called December 16 and stored the RAW files there. I reviewed the files in Bridge, marking rejected ones as I went along and giving stars to ones I liked. I picked the two I liked the most.
I opened the picture of Nate in Camera RAW, changed the white balance, exposure, and clarity (I had overexposed it on purpose but wanted to tone it down). I then opened it in Photoshop CS4, ran my favorite color action, made some minor tweaks, then saved the file. Ditto the picture of Alex. I uploaded the pictures to flickr to post on my blog. Since I planned to upload them to facebook, I also ran the free Totally Rad Actions Facebook Action to get a high quality version that fits facebook size limits.
When I get to the end of the month, I DO NOT duplicate all this work. I just move all the December 5, December 16, etc photos into one big December folder and work from there. In most cases, I only keep the jpegs. If the photo is really something special, I will keep the RAW file for future editing.
Since switching to RAW, not once have I ever thought to myself, "I wish I had kept that RAW file." because I only keep the ones that blow me away.
(ALL of this workflow is different when I take pictures for other people. I keep ALL the pictures I give them in case something happens on their end.)
Do you only take pics of the kids or other things too and do those ALL fall into the 50 pics max that are left?
People are my photography muse, so I generally do not take other pictures. Sometimes I take pictures for blog posts (house photos come to mind) but I don't print those so they get deleted.
Melissa asked - What do you grab in a fire? Are you going for the albums? The boxes? The external hard drive? Your DVDs?
Assuming the kids and Jon were safe, I would grab the external hard drive. I've backed up all of our digital photos there, including our wedding photos. This is why I'd like to go to an online service.... just haven't had the time!
Cathy asked - Where do you order your photo boxes from?
I bought them at Target. It should be illegal how much time I've spent at Target since moving during the holidays.
Nicola asked - How do you print your photos? Like how, where, and how much does it cost to print like 20 photos?
Right now I print them all at mpix.com. (I took a photography class where we had an entire list of labs we were supposed to try and that's on my 2011 list.) They are $0.24 a print for 4x6. That may be pricier than other places but the quality is far beyond the average print shop.
The other thing to consider is digital file size. My camera takes photos at a ratio of 8x12. When I print a 4x6 (or 5x7 or 8x10), it is going to crop some of that photo. If you send digital pictures to most places, they crop for you with no information about how they will crop. When you upload your pictures to mpix, they show you how they plan to crop and you can change it for each photo.
This is why I strongly encourage you to delete, delete, delete. It costs money to print photos, so use that money wisely!
Mel asked - How do you back up your blog?
Here is a post with my blogbook from two years ago. In that post is a link to this post where I explain how I create my blogbooks. Quick answer - I copy and paste the entire month of posts into Word.
And because I can't end a post about pictures without a picture, Jen asked what I do with the printed photos. Here is my work desk (I telecommute full time), my favorite place to display photos:
I change out the photos on my pinboard frequently for inspiration. I find it encouraging to see how my photography is progressing as the photos improve with each batch. And I love seeing my three boys as I work all day.
(Yes, that is the Pottery Barn Daily System and I LUV it.)
Back to regularly scheduled mommy blogging tomorrow.