The Best Way to Organize Your Photos
Those memories deserve to be preserved.
Your phone camera travels with you everywhere, snapping shots of what you’re eating, wearing, and where you’ve been. However, as we get more and more accustomed to having these pieces of gear on us at all times, the less we consider how the memories we keep on them are preserved. For many of us, we assume that amorphous cloud is enough to keep our precious memories safe.
Unfortunately, when it comes to storing and organizing photos—whether digitally or physical—it pays to have a little more strategy up your sleeve. Here’s everything you need to know to get started. And for more great tips, here’s the best way to pack your suitcase.
Add Some Storage Space
Riley Arthur, the photographer behind the Diners of New York City project, whose work has been published by National Geographic, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post, says that the first step toward a more organized photo catalog is ensuring you have ample storage space and digitizing your work whenever possible.
“Storage is a huge issue for photographers,” says Arthur. “Those of us who still have film, slides, printed, and framed images it can take a lot of room. For those who don’t have access to an excellent scanner, converting physical files to digital can be a headache.”
Learn to Digitize Your Own Photos
However, learning how to properly digitize your own photos and store by date or project may still be your best bet. “There are a number of professional services who offer digitization, the consistency and vibrancy of scanned film by these services varies widely,” cautions Arthur. “Photographers with beautiful Kodachrome film, converted into digital by one of these services, could find that a lot of the detail and color subtly is lost.”
Back Up Your Work
While many people assume that one type of storage is enough, working without a backup can mean a lifetime’s worth of photos disappears in an instant. “I was in Croatia when a hard drive broke. I hadn’t had a backup for my back up and almost lost a years’ work,” recalls Arthur. “So, of my best work, I keep two different types of files at all times, preferably in two places. I do still like a physical hard drive in addition to cloud-based storage.”
Invest in Some Acid-Free Paper
If you’re working with physical copies of your photos, photographer Dean Chooch Landry says that acid-free paper and some good old chronological filing are your best options. “I keep my negatives in print file archival sleeves—they’re acid free,” says Landry. “If I’m in the middle of developing a lot of film for a specific project, I keep them in a marked envelope until I’ve completed developing all the film from that particular project. When I have all the negatives scanned, I keep the files labeled by year and project.”
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