How do you organise your digital photographs?

Screenshot of photos on my PC

How do you organize the digital photographs on your computer?

Organize by event

Until recently I kept all our photos in folders by event, e.g.

  • 20061226 – Galashiels – Boxing Day 2006
  • 20070114 – Edinburgh – Owen’s 1st Birthday
  • 20070202 – Edinburgh – Eddie Moustache Party

The benefits of such an arrangement was that it was easy to see what each folder contained, and the folders sorted easily into chronological order – you’ll notice the date is year-month-day (yyyymmdd).

But I was finding it impossible to find anything, even with dedicated photo archiving software like Google Picasa (more of which in a moment) and not every photo could be easily assigned an event category.

Organized by date

So this past week I’ve been re-filing all our digital photographs by date, e.g.

  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
    • 01 January
    • 02 February
    • 03 March
    • etc.
  • 2011
    • 01 January
    • 02 February

Each year has up to 12 sub-folders, one for each month, and the photographs within each are simply filed according to date.

Rename the files

Of course, all our digital photographs get uploaded from the cameras with generic names such as

  • DSCF1730.JPG
  • DSCF1731.JPG
  • DSCF1732.JPG
  • DSCF1733.JPG

so I’ve been using Better File Rename for Windows to batch rename the files to the date and time that they were taken, using the format: YYYY-MM-DD HH-MM-SS.JPG

Better File Rename allows me to use the “Picture Taken Date” that’s stored within the images’ EXIF data.

Better File Rename

Better File Rename

Add metadata with Google Picasa

I’m now going through the long process of using Google Picasa to tag the photos so that the photographs also benefit from some metadata attached to them (that is ‘data about data’) about who is in the photographs, where we were (geo-tagging), etc.

Picasa also has some other neat tricks such as facial recognition, so you can tell it who someone is and it then goes through your photograph collection and identifies people that it thinks is the same person. On the whole it is very accurate…unless you have twin boys, it would appear!

I then use the Picasa2Flickr plugin to upload my photos to my Flickr account. You’ll notice that I’ve not uploaded anything in a while. That’s because my digital photographs were in such disarray on my PC.

UPDATE: Backing up metadata

It occurred to me that if I ever need to reinstall Windows I may lose the metadata and face tag data that I’ve added to photos.  Google Picasa Help answers this under Fix a Problem: Upgrade to Windows 7.

Basically you need to back up:

  • C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Picasa2
  • C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Google\Picasa2Albums

According to Superuser.com, it seems that the face tag data is stored in the Picasa database and also in the .picasa.ini file in the folder where your tagged photo sits. Performing a backup within Picasa (via Tools > Backup Pictures) will transfer the face tags too.

How do you do it?

So…I’m interested! Tell me, how do you organize your digital photos? And do you use any additional software and why?