How to Organize Your {digital} Family Photographs

Cristal asked a very good question after viewing my Blurb Book Review post where I talked about how fast & easy it had been to make the book since my files were organized! She wanted to know how I organize my files. For starters I would get an external hard drive to store everything on and, since they are pretty inexpensive, I would grab another for back-up. This is how I have my files organized (for family stuff):

As you can see I have  a special folder on my external hard drive dedicated to family stuff and then I have a folder for each year, then each month within that year, and then a folder for each event. Since there hasn’t been much for December you can see I have images from the Christmas Parade as well as our Montana trip (with dates at the end).

My work flow goes something like this-I import my RAW files (but you can use JPEG just as well) into Lightroom (copying them to and making a new folder for the RAW files within my year and month, named the event it is) and select all the files I imported and put them in a collection (within my family catalog) named for that event or date. I then flag the keepers and select flagged only. I edit what I want to in Lightroom (usually just white balance, cropping, small things) and then export into a new folder named for whatever event it is within the month and year so ChristmasParade in December in 2011 in Family. Then I open each on in Photoshop to tweak and save!

Hope this helps! By the way, this time of year is a great time to pick up external hard drives-great sales!

  • Diann - January 4, 2012 - 6:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing… I organize my family pics very similar (By year, then by month, then by special event or holiday within that month if there are one(s)) although I don’t have NEAR as many pics as you. :)
    Along these lines… I have been wanting/seriously needing to do something with all my pics, b/c as time clicks on I’m thinking I have YEARS worth of stuff I need to get into books or something. I’ve been thinking of doing those books like you can get from Shutterfly- where the print is the page of the book. Instead of doing the old style books like from when we were kids where you printed the pics and put them in a book with slip pages, or the ones that the page stuck to it w/that tacky stuff (those look GROSS now! LOL). Anyway- wondering if there are any other options, or what YOU suggest, since you’re in touch with all the latest stuff that “is all photography”. ;)ReplyCancel

    • kansas - January 4, 2012 - 11:25 pm

      I think you saw my recommendation after you wrote this-the blurb book post? Yep I would go with that all the way!ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - January 30, 2012 - 3:32 pm

    Thanks for this info! Forgive me for not following completely (I’m somewhat new to this)…. do you end up saving both your RAW and jpeg files forever? I’m trying to decided if I should delete the RAWS after editing. Thanks for your help!ReplyCancel

    • kansas - January 31, 2012 - 12:55 am

      Tracy, No problem! Actually I upload all my RAW files into a RAW folder and then choose the finals in LR and export the jpegs of those. I save RAW files for a year and then get rid of them. I keep the jpegs forever it seems ;-) And there are always exceptions but in general this is what I do!ReplyCancel

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