I’ve been meaning to write a post on how I store photos for a while now, and this week I’ve finally decided to sit down and write it!
With the rise of digital photography, it’s become quite common for people to have hundreds of photos stored in folders on their computers that they rarely ever look at. However, in the modern world practicing minimalism also means sorting out your digital clutter. Even if you aren’t interested in minimalism, it makes little sense to store hundreds of photos in a place where you never look at them.
When my old computer began to be slow and annoying about six years ago, I started to tackle the photo problem and clear hard-drive space. Six years later, I store very few photos directly on my computer hard-drive, so I thought I’d share my experiences with you.
Sorting through all the memory photos I had
When I first decided to clear my hard-drive of things I didn’t need or use, I realised that photos were going to be a big task. I couldn’t delete whole folders without looking at each file individually, and there were hundreds of images to sort through. As a result, I divided the task up into smaller jobs and did it over a period of a few months. This is not a quick job! Furthermore, as a blogger and someone interested in photography, my photos could be broadly divided into two categories: memory photos and project photos. I decided to print the memory photos into books and albums, so the very first task was to sort through which photos I wanted to keep and which were rubbish.
Once I had sorted through all the photos, I had to decide how to print them. In the end, I made two albums with photos that I printed through Snapfish and Asda, and then various printed books for certain holidays and events I wanted to record. For printing photo books, I use Bob Books, which is a UK-based printing company. The books they produce are lovely. Doing all of this isn’t cheap, so it’s definitely worth sorting through all the photos first and only printing the good ones.
Once I’d produced hard copies of all the photos I wanted to keep, I deleted all the files on my computer.
Sorting through all the project photos I had
Once all the holiday and family photos had been sorted, I was left with another few hundred photos of flowers, insects, blog review items and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff that accumulates when you like playing with your camera. This was all much easier to deal with. I saw little point in printing these photos out, so I started moving the ones I liked on to my Flickr account. I pay for a pro account so I have unlimited storage on there. Once the photos I liked were moved on to Flickr, I deleted them off my computer.
Once the two jobs above were done I had no photos stored on my computer, and it has largely remained this way for the past few years. When I take photos for my blog, once they’re uploaded to Flickr or directly to the blog I delete them off my computer. When I take family photos, I print them out within a few weeks of the event with Snapfish and put them in a frame. The Bob Books software lets you save and compile books over time, so if I know I want to create a photo book for something I make it as I go. For example, I want a book of my photo a day project this year, and I’m arranging the book as I go.
I don’t remove photos from my camera until I have time to edit them. First I sort through all the photos taken and delete the crap ones off the memory card. Then I edit and save each photo individually to my computer (usually my desktop). This means I make a conscious decision to save certain photos, and I don’t just import and forget about photos. By the time the photo hits my desktop, I’ve already decided what I’m going to do with it, so it either goes on Flickr, Facebook, into a folder I’m keeping to make a book, or it remains on the desktop to go on the blog when I’m ready.
As a sneak peak, this is my desktop today:
All the images that haven’t been used yet are on my desktop waiting for me. There are a couple of garden photos (flowers, top right) waiting to go on Flickr. The rest are specifically for blog posts. All these photos will be deleted once they have been loaded into blog posts or Flickr.
I tend to arrange the photos on my desktop in to columns, and each photo has a proper file name that explains what it is (Flickr and WordPress both pull through the file name, so it saves re-naming them later). Each column on my desktop above is a separate blog post. The ones on the right are ready to go into posts. The ones on the left are for projects I’m not ready to share yet. Currently that’s just some photos for a new quilt pattern I’ve been tinkering with, and the photos will probably remain there for a few months until I’ve finished the pattern and decided what photos to use in a post. However, the photos are edited and ready to go in a post as soon as I decide what to write.
So, what does my pictures folder on my computer actually look like? Well, there are a couple of files saved in there (and I mean less than 40 photos!).
I have a few family photos on my computer that I haven’t decided what to do with yet. These are photos taken in the last couple of years that have never made it into photo books. All of them are good photos, but I just haven’t found a use for them yet. There are 14 of them.
I have a couple of self-portraits saved for avatars. Because I keep changing my hair, I try to update the photos every couple of months, and I keep the large files on my comp. I also have duplicates saved on Dropbox that are cropped to various dimensions and are smaller files.
I collect sunset photos I’ve taken myself, and I don’t share these online. I keep all these files on my computer, and I’ve never printed them out. I think one day I will make a photo book, but I haven’t reached that stage yet so for now they are just a folder on my computer.
Finally, I have a couple of desktop wallpapers saved on my computer. I tend to download my wallpapers from the internet, so I keep a couple in a folder. I delete old ones when I’m bored with them.
And they are all the pictures saved to my computer! If my computer died tomorrow, I wouldn’t lose anything important (technically my computer is all backed up, but you know what I mean!). All the photos I like are in books on my shelf or on the web for me to share with other people.
If you’ve never sorted through all the photos saved on your computer, I recommend tackling the project. Once sorted, you won’t have to worry about losing any important photos, and you’ll be able to enjoy the photos you’ve taken.