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Organizing Photos on Computer
Old 09-22-2017, 10:39 PM   #1
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Organizing Photos on Computer

Curious how people organize their digital photos on their computer. And, by organize, I mean what kind of file structure do you set up?

I have Photoshop Elements which I use for editing and for some organization tasks. It is really good, for example, if I want to go and look at all the photos with me in them. I can just go and do a search for those tagged with me. Fine.

But, sometimes I don't want/need to use the organizer. I either just want to find one specific photo (typically because I am going to use it for something) or I want to find a specific group of photos.

In my case we have actual digital photos where it is easy to know when they were taken as the photo properties show that. Several years ago, however, I had scanned in all of my non-digital photos. For those the date is simply the date of the scan.

One I got all of the photos. I created files by date. So there is a folder for each decade. For example, the 1990s. Then in that folder, there are 12 folder, one for each month. I then put each photo in the appropriate month folder.

The problem of course is that sometimes I may know the year a photo was taken but not the month. If I am fairly sure I just put it in the most likely month. If I have no clue then I leave the photo in the 1990s folder but not in one of the month subfolders.

There are some photos though that I can't narrow down to year. For those I make my best guess of decade and put in the appropriate folder. So in the 1990s folder I have 12 folders for the months and then I just have some loose photos that I think were taken in the 1990s.

So all of that is fine and I could just continue with it. But I keep running into certain problems.

1. Some photos are very easily located by date. Others aren't. People aren't so much a problem as I tag them in Organizer and can search there. But, for example, tonight I needed to find some photos that had been taken of the interior of my house. It really isn't important when they were taken. And, really, those are the kinds of photos I want grouped together. For what I was doing tonight I needed to look at all of the kitchen photos not scour through years of folders by date to find kitchen pics in several different folder. It was actually not a problem because I had totally not used the date format for those pictures. I had a folder with the street name of the house and then subfolder for each room.

That worked but I sort of felt guilty they weren't in the folders by date. I wanted to have one system and not a hybrid system. And, even this hybrid system isn't perfect. That is, many of the pictures in the date folders are also pics of the interior of the house. They weren't taken for that purpose but they do show the interior. I considered putting a copy of them in the house folder but I want to avoid having duplicates of the same photo.

2. In Photoshop Elements Organizer, I basically import in all of my dated folder. So, in Photoshop Elements if someone looks at the folder for May of 2016 they will see all the photos I took that month except for those in specialized folders (like the house pics folder). The problem is that some of those folders I really don't want someone who might be looking over my shoulder to see. And that happens. That is, someone comes over and I want to show them pics from some event in May of 2016. So I would call of Organizer and then call up those pics from that month.

But, in that month I may have taken other photos that I wouldn't want them to see. For example, I had surgery that month and there are some post-surgical pics. It is not the kind of thing I want to show most people.

And, as mentioned above, there are specialized type photos that I took that I didn't put in a separate special photo. So, maybe a photo of what I ate at a restaurant, or a photo of a broken something or other at home. I don't have specialized folders for them so I put them in the dated folder but really if I am showing people photos from the dated folder I really don't want them to see those folder.

So -- for those of you have a lot of photos what folder structure do you use?

Also do you just keep all the photos or do you cull out some of them? What is your criteria there? I cull out photos that are really unusable or super bad. So if it is very blurry or a photo of someone where they look terrible. I will just outright delete those. What I have more trouble with are photos that are fine, but repetitive. So we took 10 photos that were very similar. Do you get rid of 9 of them or keep them all?

Or, you took some photos that have real flaws in them but it is the only photo you have of that event? This happens with photos from trips or special occasions. There are some photos that I really don't like and that have major flaws -- but it is the only photo of a particular thing or person so I am reluctant to delete.

One thing I did for a major vacation we took was that I put in the dated folder only the really good photos from the trip. I then kept the rest of the photos in a separate folder that is not part of the dated folder structure. Theoretically I could expand that and just put good photos in the dated folder that I want people to see.
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Old 09-22-2017, 11:20 PM   #2
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I organize mine by date, a year date for everything that year, then divide that up by the date of when a trip started or event happened.
I use YYYY-MM-DD format so the name will sort them in date order.

Photos
- 2006
- 2006-01-01 New Years Party
- 2006-02-21 Florida trip

I will cull vacation photos that are blurry or I have duplicates after all if it's a duplicate photo there is no difference. Usually with duplicates, I compare them, jumping back and forth with my viewer and can see which is better.

DW has a new camera and it has a sport photo option, where it takes 6-8 photos within a second, so she flips though those and keeps one. You can see a significant difference if taking the photo out the window as you drive by, or if people are walking in a photo street scene.

I copy out the good photos to show, and try to limit it to a small sample size if I'm showing them off.

Our Europe river cruise, we each took about 2,500 photos and I'm finding it super hard to select the 100 that tell the trip.
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Old 09-23-2017, 04:51 AM   #3
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Most of our photos are taken on trips, so we have a folder for the trip, and within that folder the days of the trip. Other photos may be organized in folders by date, or by the main subject and the date.
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Old 09-23-2017, 05:13 AM   #4
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I take a lot of photos on trips and at events (weddings, anniversaries, etc) so I organize them by those trips/events. I also have some albums for family photos, old family and some generic topics diving, biking. etc. If I took a lot of random photo I would probably leave them by date. I recently uploaded my photos to Google Photos and noticed that despite the fact that I have them organized into albums the default view is a timeline so I can just drag a slider through the years and see them that way. I like that feature but it doesn't work for older stuff that I scanned and some for which the exif data got lost in editing. I have been thinking of scanning some old photo albums we keep on a shelf - maybe I will look at editing the date field on their creation. I assume there is a way to do that.
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Old 09-23-2017, 06:04 AM   #5
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When I pull photos from camera, I let the program rename photos by date, and they go into a folder similarly named.

I try to use YYYY_MMDD format.

Google photos is a big help. Still using the old Picasa program.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:00 AM   #6
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I create a folder for each year, using the file format:

D:\Photos\YYYY\YYYY-MM-DD HHMMSS - Description.jpg

I wrote a program many years ago that moves the photos from my SD card to my photo directory. It extracts the date and time from the EXIF data in the photo. So all I have to do is go back and add the description to the end of each file name.

I tend to copy and paste generic descriptions across multiple photos (i.e. 2017-08-18 161603 - Eastern Oregon Trip.jpg) rather than try to describe every image in detail. I can easily locate an event and flip through the individual photos if I'm looking for something specific.

Ironically, we take thousands of photos each year now and look at them even less than we did with traditional photo albums. But, it's nice to document our lives for those times we do want to look back. Every now and then I'll go through and delete old pictures that seemed interesting at the time but have no value now (that bug in the grass for instance).

I copy some of our favorite photos to another folder for my screensaver. That way I get to see them on a regular basis.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:09 AM   #7
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I have noticed a couple of times, it will come up "when did we go to Bryce Canyon?". Honestly I cannot recall, so I look though my photo directories, for the description of the directory and then I know.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainsoft View Post
I copy some of our favorite photos to another folder for my screensaver. That way I get to see them on a regular basis.
I am thinking about doing that. I had it pulling from my main photo album but it was pulling some photos that I had taken for a reason (product in a store, etc) but not really things I needed to see across the front of my computer.

I am thinking from reading the responses that I need to do sort of a hybrid system. For pictures that are from "events" like a vacation or a holiday I would organize them by year and month as I do now but create a subfolder in the month folder for, say, London trip.

For things that aren't those kinds of events where I took a photo more as a record of something like, for example, photos of the house then I would organize those in separate folders labeled "house" or whatever. These would be only the photos that were taken to be a record of the house, not those where it was an occasion and the house was simply where the photo was taken.
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Old 09-23-2017, 10:51 PM   #9
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When I take photos of the house or house gardens, I put them in the year directory, and their own directory for the month.

I do this as then I can look over the years to see the changes and know which year it changed.

All this photo storage stuff is an issue, the way some companies deal with it, is they use a program so they can assign labels to a photo like: woman, blue dress, field, sunflowers, hat, etc...
Then they can just call up all the photos that match some search word(s).

That is too much work for me, even with my small collection of 118 Gigs of photos.
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Old 09-23-2017, 11:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
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All this photo storage stuff is an issue, the way some companies deal with it, is they use a program so they can assign labels to a photo like: woman, blue dress, field, sunflowers, hat, etc...
Then they can just call up all the photos that match some search word(s).

That is too much work for me, even with my small collection of 118 Gigs of photos.
I use Photoshop Elements and in the Organizer I can tag photos. But, yeah, a lot of work. And, some photos I really don't want to have in the album on Photoshop Elements. Maybe I should just create a separate album for those photos. (Where they are in Photoshop Elements doesn't affect my file structure on the computer).
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Old 09-24-2017, 04:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mountainsoft View Post

I copy some of our favorite photos to another folder for my screensaver. That way I get to see them on a regular basis.
+1 As I add edited photos to albums I will either copy the entire group or select out shots if some are shots you would not revisit routinely (eg documents, etc) an put them in the screensaver folder. I run them on a 24 inch desktop that sits in our kitchen where we spend a fair amount of time. Since we include most of the photos we take on trips we get to see them now and then.
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Old 09-25-2017, 01:08 AM   #12
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So I have moved along now to trying to cull out duplicates. I got a program dupeGuru and found I had almost 18 GB of dupes. I've spent at least 8 hours on going through these (I want to look at each image before deleting anything) and now have only 15 GB to go through. I can see this will take awhile.
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Old 09-25-2017, 04:59 AM   #13
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Old 09-25-2017, 08:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
So I have moved along now to trying to cull out duplicates. I got a program dupeGuru and found I had almost 18 GB of dupes. I've spent at least 8 hours on going through these (I want to look at each image before deleting anything) and now have only 15 GB to go through. I can see this will take awhile.
I need to use something like this, just in case.

I think it's wise of you to look at the photos first, as DW had this issue with her camera a few years ago, where something happened, and the pictures started to save with names that were already used (on a new card).

So she has ended up with photos from different months, having the same name.
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Old 09-25-2017, 08:53 AM   #15
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I keep it pretty simple. My Alpha 7RII is set up to save photos in auto dated folders, so I simply move those onto a dedicated hard drive, and then usually add a descriptor to the folder after the date so that they stay chronologically sorted. Even when shooting RAW, the space I have on these HDD's is more than enough to store years worth of photos. When I choose to, I will post process In Lightroom , and then save those files to the same folder but under a modified name.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:18 AM   #16
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Katsmeow, you probably have a lot more photos than I do, to organize. I only have between 2-3 GB of photos, so probably my methods will be fairly useless to you. But anyway, I might as well describe what I do in case it is helpful to somebody at some point.

I just organize my photos by hand in a way that makes sense to me personally. I have folders for each year, starting with "2007 and before" and then "2008 photos", "2009 photos", and so on. Inside each folder are folders with each date on which I took photos; for example, if I took photos today, they would go in a folder called "2017-09-25" inside the "2017 photos" folder. For me there are only a couple of dozen subfolders like this inside each yearly photos folder.

Besides these standard folders arranged by date, I have separate folders for a few particular topics or events that generated a lot of pictures, such as my new-to-me house, my daughter's wedding, my retirement party, and so on. I also have a big folder for scans of my old paper photos, that contains many subfolders.

When I want to find a certain photo, but don't know the date, I just go inside my photo processing software and browse the subfolders; when I click on a subfolder, all the thumbnails inside show up; I glance at them quickly and move on. So, going through a year of photos takes only a few seconds.

Duplicates never happen because I would see them immediately in the thumbnails. Sometimes I process a photo to make it look nicer or to crop it appropriately or so on, and in that case I keep the altered version right next to the original. Usually the altered version is much smaller so it's easy to tell which is which.

Works for me. But like I said, you have a lot more photos than I do.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:48 AM   #17
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I just downloaded and tried the dupeGuru program.

It is fantastic, it has the ability to focus on music, or photos, or just all files.
When focused on photos, it shows the image when you select details, so you can quickly double check.

It appears to limit itself to searching within the directory selected (includes the sub-directories) rather than looking all over the computer which would be stupid.
I found it pretty fast considering I have a huge music collection, of 84 Gigs.

My photo collection is 118 Gigs..
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:15 AM   #18
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folders is very 1980s
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Old 09-25-2017, 10:47 AM   #19
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I use Google Photos, which backs up everything in the cloud. It then lets you search by content, date, person, etc.
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Old 09-25-2017, 11:05 AM   #20
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I use a file structure and tags.
The top level is the year (../pictures/2017)
Then one sub-folder for each month (../pictures/2017/2017-03)
I tag (exif or iptc I'm not sure which) pictures with information like location, event, names etc. (Colorado, Walkinwood, hike, silver dollar lake). I used to be stingy with the number of tags.. now I just add as many as feels right at the time.

I use Lightroom which makes it easy to tag pictures when I import the images to the computer. But I've used tags in picasa and photoshop elements too.

The tags make it easy to search for pictures. If I forget to tag, I can usually narrow down the year and month and do a manual search.

Google photos is amazing at finding pictures based on people's names. It identified a 30+ year old picture of me based on my current photographs. I didn't have a beard then and had a lot of hair, and obviously looked a lot better too
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