Barbara Bell is the Chief Smile & Memory Maker behind Barbara Bell Photography, a portrait and event photography studio based in Chapel Hill. She writes on all topics related to photography and is happy to answer your questions. Drop her a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org
December and January are like the two sides of one coin. Tails. Heads. End of one year. Start of a new year. One question consistently comes up at this time of year: “How do I organize my photos?” Whether you are looking for an image you captured earlier this year or wondering how to corral the hundreds (or thousands!) of photos you take every year, you want to be able to put your hands on what you are looking for when you want to retrieve it.
In this digital age where most of our everyday photos are captured with a smartphone, it’s easier than ever to take shot after shot; but without a plan to archive them, how can you really go back to enjoy these memories you’ve captured?
Everything starts with a system. The system you’ll need to archive the photos from your smartphone starts with putting a date on your calendar, and making it a part of your weekly or monthly ritual. For me, this is a Friday night task when I close down the work week. I plug my phone to my desktop, and I go through the photos I’ve taken this past week. Which were meant for reference and can now be deleted? Which are worth keeping? If they are worth keeping, how can I sort them to find them in the future? This will take approximately 15-20 minutes when you have the right system defined for you.
Think about this: are you more right-brained or left-brained? Do you consider yourself more creative or more analytical? Do you think in pictures or numbers?
For those who are right-brained, you may want to group your photos into folders based on topic: your family, your dog, food you’ve cooked, a funny sign you saw when you went out for a walk or club activities in which you were involved. Because right-brained people tend to think visually and be more intuitive, you need a system that is more subject-based.
For those who are left-brained, group your photos into folders based on dates taken such as month (2017_December) or events attended (STEMConference_2017). Because left-brained people think logically and analytically, you are looking for numbers and data when you want to retrieve a photo you’ve captured.
Now, let’s take it one step further. Photography was intended to be one person shooting an image (and developing it) so as to share the captured image with a wider audience.
Did you know that we are currently the generation with the most advanced photo technology and the least amount of printed photographs to show for it? Let’s change that, shall we? Right now, look at your phone. What are the last 9 images you captured? Which one do you love to look at the most? Is it your smiling grandchild, your cat curled up in the sunshine or the carved wooden bowl you recently made?
Print this image.
Southeastern Camera in Carrboro is a great spot for this. They are a local hub for photographers of all skill levels. Print your image. Whether you choose to put it in a frame for your mantle, attach it to a card to mail it with a note to a friend or clip it to a magnet on your fridge, the images you capture were meant to be enjoyed. Finding them is the first step. Printing them is the second step and smiling at them every time you see the image you captured is the next step. Repeat, as needed.