Physical or Digital Organization?

You may look at your collection of photos, slides, negatives, and memorabilia and find that you don’t even know where to begin. If you don’t consider it practical to organize your collection physically, then you may choose to just get it all scanned and organizing digital images instead by creating subject folders to drag and drop your images into. You may find this method more enjoyable and easier to accomplish.

However, it can really help your digital organization process by first sorting them physically, especially if your collection has no organization at all. Start by sorting them by color or black and white, then types of photos within each. For example, place Polaroids in a pile and 3×5 photos in another. This will really start to make your collection take shape and feel less discombobulated. Once you have your types of photos in piles, organize each pile by date the best you can. Use clues such as the automatic date stamp on the photo itself or the date of when the photo was developed on the back. Once your photos are sorted by type, then you can digitize them by scanning into corresponding folders.

Digital File Folders

When naming subject directories, we recommend starting with the date by year and then month (if applicable) and then the subject title so that the folders will sort chronologically by date. Sorting by date is a good start to keeping your digital files organized. It helps break the subject matter down to make it easier to search by time period for a set of photos as a starting point.

Digital File Naming

The next issue to consider in keeping your digital image files organized is to name the image files themselves to relate to the subject name. You can either do this by manually renaming each file (which would be tedious) or use a batch renaming software to easily replace an entire directory with a new name. i.e. “IMG-001” to “1998-05-25-Graduation-001” The major benefit of keeping your image file names clean is they can be easily searchable in your image browser or photo management software.

Automatic Digital File Naming

Rather than manually naming all your files by hand, consider using a utility like FastStone to help you organize your files by dragging and dropping them and bulk renaming them. We have an easy to follow our guide here that can help you accomplish this task.