How to manage your photo archive?

For the past ten years I used my digital camera’s to take pictures. Each year I created a new folder and stored all my pictures in a sub folder, and named the folder from the import date. I had my pictures organized by year and a sub folder. When searching for a specific event or place it become hell of a job.

So I decided to add at least places or events in the sub folder names some years ago. The solution worked for quite some time but I still organized my files by year and imported date. To make my long story short I defined the following method in organizing my photo archive:

  • Get a piece of paper and a pen! Write down your current way how you organize your pictures today. –> This is your current condition.
  • Write down how you would like to organize your pictures based on some principles (read my principles on the PAGE 2 of this article). Principles are nothing more than some rules you define and later on adhere to. –> This your the target condition.
  • Look at the tools you are using today and based on the operating system evaluate others. If you are using Windows and organizing your pictures with folders look at Picassa or Windows Live Photo Gallery. If you are using Mac than iPhoto is a good start and for more advanced users Adobe Lightroom 3 or Aperture 3.
  • So get started and work through your pictures and start organizing them on your principles. As your photo archive will only grow start tagging your pictures with individual keywords and other meta data (e.g. GPS location) –> This is your transition.

Depending on the amount of pictures you have it will take some time to place them in the structure. Believe me it took me two/three months to go through mine but! Maintaining and adding new pictures will go quicker and hopefully make our lives easier in finding and working with our most valuable memories on our computers.

How do I manage my photo archive?

My principles are very simple. I use “Counties” as my parent folder and Cities as my placeholders to store the picture files. I am using Aperture 3 for Mac as my tool which offers “Smart Album” feature to group a specific event in the city based on keywords or metadata. For example once a year I visit Amsterdam, I then store all my pictures in folder Amsterdam and I create new “Smart Album” based on the event.

Aperture 3

Last year I learned about Aperture 3 and it’s new features. Before the third release of Aperture Adobe Lightroom 2 had more features than it’s counterpart. Since the last release of Aperture this year Apple added many new features.

Aperture is a photo editing and management software program that was developed by Apple for the Mac OS X operating system, first released in 2005. The software handles a number of tasks common in post-production work such as importing and organizing image files, applying corrective adjustments, displaying slideshows, and printing photographs.
Features of Aperture include non-destructive editing, organization of photographs by keyword, faces (using face detection and recognition), and places (using GPS metadata embedded in image files), brushes for applying effects (such as dodge and burn, skin smoothing, and polarization), and exporting to several popular websites, including Flickr, Facebook, SmugMug, and Apple’s MobileMe service.Aperture 3, the latest version of the software, was released on February 9, 2010 and runs on Intel-based Mac computers.


Aperture 3 features:

  • Organization and Library Management – Customizable Project Order, Select Multiple Items in Library Inspector, Project Grouping
  • Faces – Faces makes it faster and easier to search thousands of photos for shots of a particular person.
  • Places – Now you can use GPS location data to explore your photos by the places they were taken. Better still, find them on an interactive map.
  • Brushes – New nondestructive, edge-aware brushes let you selectively apply powerful adjustments to photos/
  • Adjustment Presets – Dozens of new adjustment presets give your photos a wide range of looks. In just one click.

For complete list of features please go to Apple’s site here.

Aperture 3 screenshot using the library and my folders and projects

Click here to watch my demo which I created to explain in more detail how I use my principles and Aperture 3.

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