best photo management practices?
I have a very large photo library (about 42,000 photos). Here is how I currently manage it:
First, there are the top level folders by year:
Then, there are events folders. The device used is indicated in the (brackets):
2012-05-16 Hawaii (Camera)
2012-08-17 BBQ (iPhone)
2012-11-29 Birthday Party (Camcorder)
The problem thatI'm getting too many events in a year: I can have upwards of 20 events folders in a year. This is making getting to my pictures very difficult. The photos feel isolated and balkanized.
I want to find a way to manage my photos so that they naturally flow from one to the other. I want to be able to easy find an event, but also to be able to view photos around that event easily.
What is the best way to organize my photos? Should I use some kind of software?
With any substantial collection of photos (or anything else for that matter) software will make your life easier. As a librarian (almost retired) I probably know more about organising photos than I do about taking them.
The main advantages of a good software based system are:
a) you can retain an index of your material on your hard drive but shift the actual images to an external drive, series of DVDs or whatever. Once you have told the index on which drive to look, it will find whatever you are looking for. This makes secure storage much easier.
b) Software will permit access in any number of ways, many of which can be automatically extracted from the EXIF data. This enables searching by ranges of dates and, with a bit of skill, which camera and or lens was used. This sort of search doesn't require you to add any text or tags to the images
c) Software then permits the addition of free text, tags etc etc to your images. By the sound of it, your existing "folder" based system would enable this to be done in large blocks, with all of the images in one folder being linked to, for instance, a single geographical tag. If you then wanted to pull up every photo you have ever taken in Hawaii, it would be easy. Similarly, you could link images to a Birthday Party tag. You would then be able to search for every birthday party photo you have ever taken in Hawaii - or even Outer Mongolia.
d) A good system will also enable you to generate your index in an independent format (like RTF or TXT) so that you could transfer the data to a different software system in due course.
Which software you should use is much more complicated. I have been using iMatch for years, which is very clunky by modern standards but capable of handling almost infinite numbers of photos and with very powerful retrieval capabilities. There are bound to be more modern packages which can also do this. I'm sure you will be inundated with suggestions.
The important thing is that you ensure that the software you chose has all of the capabilities which I have listed and any other specific ones that you require.