As a traveller and parent it is rather likely to have a “decent” number of pictures. Somewhere. Maybe organised, maybe not. Save and backed up or not. But what’s the point of taking pictures if you can’t look at them again later? So I asked Kim Olson from www.simplerpursuits.com to share tips and tricks to organize and back up your precious memories.

Autumn in Alaska (Photo: Kim Olson)

Digital photography has made it super easy for us to take as many photos as we like since we no longer have to worry about spending tons of money on film and processing costs.

The problem is that because we can easily take so many photos, we now have the challenge of keeping our digital photos organized, easy to find and backed up.

So today I want to share a couple of tips on how you can keep your digital photographs better organized and always make sure you have backup copies in case your computer ever dies or your laptop is stolen (and all your photos are lost in the process).

Why You Should Organize Your Photos

One of the problems with digital photos is that because of the sheer number of them (I have hundreds of thousands, myself) it can be easy to get disorganized quickly if you don’t have a plan in place.

But even if you have thousands of images stored on your computer, if you’ve organized them well, you:

  • can still find your images when you need them,
  • you can easily add your new photos to your computer because you know exactly where they should go, and
  • you have a reliable and consistent photo structure.

Ways to Sort Your Photos

There are generally two different ways you can organize your photos:

  • By Date
  • By Subject

Depending on how your mind works, you can choose whichever one suits you best. There’s no one way to do it, but once you decide on an organizing structure, I think it’s important to stick with it so that you can enjoy the benefits of doing it the same way every time.

By Date

If you choose to organize your photos by date, here’s one example of how you could do it:

Organizing Images by Date

If you tend to think of events and activities by when they happened, this structure would be a good option for you because each “gallery” of photos is sorted automatically by its date.

By Subject

If you choose to organize your photos by subject, here’s another example of how you could do it:

Organizing Images by Subject

This is a good option if you tend to think of events and activities by who was involved or where you were. This way you can find all the photos of your grandma’s birthday in one place, for example.

Now that you’ve got your images all organized, sorted and ready to go, you’ll want to make sure you have at least one duplicate copy of each photo.

Backing Up Your Photos

To many of us, losing our photos would be pretty devastating. Some events like weddings, vacations and people’s birthdays are one-time things and once they’ve happened, they’ll never happen again. So if we lose our photos we’re out of luck.

The good news is it’s easier than ever to put measures in place so that you can always have at least one extra copy of your photos.

There are two main ways I’d recommend keeping extra copies of your digital photos:

  1. On an external hard drive.
  2. In the “cloud”.

Ideally you’d have copies of your photos in both of these locations (which are in addition to your computer’s hard drive), but some of you may just opt to choose one of these for convenience.

An External Hard Drive

Whether you choose to utilize a software program that automatically mirrors your computer’s hard drive onto your external hard drive or you manually copy over the photos you want to duplicate, having your digital photos on another hard drive is an excellent idea.

Hard drives are not the most reliable piece of equipment and it’s not all that uncommon for a hard drive to fail. So if you’re only keeping one copy of your photos on your computer’s hard drive and that drive fails, then you may have lost everything (and I say “may” because there are times when computer specialists are able to recover data from failed hard drives, but I would never recommend relying on this possibility).

Hard drives prices have come down a lot and are really affordable so I think it’s wise to invest in at least one so that you can keep an extra copy of your photos on it.

In the “Cloud”

The other option is storing your photos in the “cloud,” which means storing them online.

The benefit of having a copy of your photos online is that if anything ever happens to your home or your laptop, you’ll always have an offsite backup of your photos and you’re not nearly as vulnerable.

If you’re looking for a place to store just your images (and aren’t concerned about text documents and the like) I’d recommend signing up with a service that is tailored to this purpose.

I personally use and highly recommend SmugMug.com. I started using them over a year ago and have been very happy with them. They have various plans you can opt to purchase depending on what your needs are (like if you want to just store your photos or if you also want to sell prints to people) and it’s really easy to upload your photos.

You can learn more about them here: http://www.smugmug.com

They also provide unlimited photo uploads so whether you have 10 photos or 10,000 you can store them all. What a deal.

Happy Photographing

I hope these two tips have helped you and you can be on your way to better organized photos and greater peace of mind knowing that you have all of your photos in order and stored in more than one place.

Kim Olson is a writer, photographer and simplicity advocate and enjoys sharing inspirational stories of simplifying your life, doing work you love and living with intention on her site www.simplerpursuits.com. You can also find her on Twitter @kimberlyolson and Instagram @kimolsonphoto.