Nearly all of the images on Purfylle are my own (not all, but most) and so it's up to me to keep them safely stored.
As a blogger I have new images to manage almost every day.
If you're a bit haphazard in your filing habits, the way I am, managing all those photos can be a bit of a nightmare.
Like last year. Last year I didn't really plan how I was going to manage my photos and I ended up with a big mess.
Yes, that really says over 4000 files in 215 folders for just one year of photos. A year where I didn't really start blogging regularly until late in the year. Please don't ask me to find a photo from last year.
This year I decided I wasn't going to let it get like that again.
First I took a look at what I was trying to do and why it wasn't working.
Analyse The Situation
Filing / CategoriesWhat I tried:
Sorting by categories.
Why it failed:
Photos would end up in the wrong category because I would get interrupted and forget to go back and sort them, or I would think I would do it 'later'. Really? How often does 'later' ever happen when it comes to filing?
To make things worse I didn't have clearly defined categories and so I just kept creating new ones. I'd forget about categories I had already created and I would end up with a category list similar to this:
And sometimes photos of the dogs would end up in a category called walks or park.
Hmmm....category confusion was definitely a part of the problem.
Copying / DuplicatesWhat I tried:
Leaving a copy on the SD card incase something went wrong during transfer ( I was having some card reading issues at the time ). Leaving a copy on the card would also act as a back up because you can never have your data in too many places.
Why it failed:
I would end up with a copy on the card and a copy on the computer.
I would want to take more photos using the same the card and it would have a mixture of old and new photos on it. I wouldn't remember if I had moved the photos across to the computer or not and so I would copy everything on the card again - probably filing it in another category altogether - and then I would have three copies, one on the card and two on the computer. Rinse and repeat.
Yeah, definitely not a good system.
Identify What Needs To ChangeA good place to start is removing the problems from the equation.
Decision MakingKnow in advance where to file photos, instead of creating categories on the fly.
Removing decisions from the day to day filing process would limit the bad decisions that could be made - you know, the decisions that end with a photo of Ada-cat being filed under 'laundry'.
ProcrastinationI am a professional procrastinator. 'Later' had to be eliminated from even being a possibility.
ConfusionIf it is done it's done and must be obviously so. I don't want to be wondering if a file has been copied or backed up.
I want to know it's been backed up.
Minimise The RisksI hadn't done a great job of photo management so far, so I wanted to minimise how much could go wrong if my new system didn't work out.
I decided I needed to start with a clean slate. This meant I could just leave the mess that was the 2014 system as it was and worry about fixing it in the future should I be so inclined.
Because my needs may change from year to year it would be good to start with a clean slate every year.
Filing by year also puts a limit on just how out of hand my bad filing habits can get.
That was when the light-bulb went off. I could apply that same risk minimisation process to every month.
Suddenly the filing system I should use became obvious to me.
File by year then month.
Seting up all the folders immediately minimises the risk of procrastination takes about a minute and I only have to do it once a year.
Ahhhhh. The craziness of my own bad habits can be contained in a logical fashion.
Implement The Solution
Step 1 Create An ImageTake some photos.
Step 2 Move The imageRemove the SD card from the camera and plug into the computer, you might just use a cable but this is how it works best for me.
I select all the images on the SD card and hit cut. Not copy, no more unwanted duplicates!
Then I paste them to my folder for the external wireless drive. The external drive was a new addition to our network and has been invaluable.
Because I've already set up a folder for each year and month, the images are pasted into the folder for the month they were taken. So today they are put in 2015/June.
On the days I'm feeling really organised I might create sub folders for specific posts.
If I don't set up those 12 monthly folders at the beginning of the year then it is very likely that I would still be pasting into last month, or still dithering over where my images should go and what I should name the folder.
Step 3 Editing And ResizingI open the images in my editor. I use Picasa 3 for my image editing. Picasa does not change the original image, it keeps instructions for the changes to the image and reads the instructions to display the edited version. This means I won't lose my original version by mistake.
I export the edited image at a smaller size to a different location on my computer, not onto the external hard drive. Doing this not only gives me an edited version of the image at the right size for the blog it also gives me a back up of the images.
So far I've:
- transferred the photo to my computer,
- stored the original photo in the correct location,
- edited the photo to look good,
- resized the photo,
- stored the edited version of the photo,
- created a back up of the photo in a separate location so it is now safely on two devices,
- cleared my SD card ready for use
I know I've copied the photos off the SD card.
I know I've filed the original photo correctly.
I know the photos I've chosen for the blog are stored in two locations.
There is no confusion, I haven't had to make any decisions. And it was easy, so easy I didn't even procrastinate.
I haven't even needed the internet yet. The photo is ready to add to my next blog post, and I haven't even had to think about filing and categories.
Step 4 Uploading And Cloud AccessUploading the image to the blog automatically gives me a virtual copy of the image as well.
If you're a Wordpress blogger you might need to upload to an image hosting site and then link back to your blog. I use Blogger so I'm just guessing.
My image is now stored in 3 locations and one of those locations is off-site in the 'cloud', so I would still have them if my house burned down and I have access to them from anywhere.
Step 5 Double RedundancyThe images on the external hard drive are the full size originals. The originals are not backed up, only the edited version is.
Ultimately you would back up all of your data daily. But we live in the real world, and lets be honest, daily full data back ups probably aren't going to happen. Performing a snap-shot back up of all of your data at the end of each week or each month or even each quarter - or failing that, just randomly when you remember - is better then not doing it.
At the end of each year it is a good idea to take your back up drive and put it in a cupboard and (hopefully) never touch again. Start over with a new back-up drive for the new year. Do this every year with a brand new drive and if one drive fails at least not all is lost, the previous years are in the cupboard too.
Is It Working?
I have over 3000 photos for this year so far and I can even say it's working. I could actually find a photo if you asked me for it.
I'd say that's a success!
Is your photo filing system working for you?