How we store digital photos

We take a lot of photos.  I actually feel like I don’t take enough photos and I have plans to try to take even more.  With the purchase of my newest camera, the file sizes are through the roof.  Especially when I keep raw and jpeg versions of each photo.  For several years after getting my first DSLR in college, I did not care about photo storage and put no thought to it what  so ever.  Each time I would take photos, I would create random files on my computer and through them in.  Along came Tom and he began harping at me about my storage disaster situation.  I resisted for a long time and finally, last year, gave into a new system of organization.

Oh how I wish I could go back in time and do this with my files (and external hard drives and flash drives) from the beginning.  We have a mess of years of photos that is taking a lot of time to clean up. (Tom has a mess of his own photos, so this is not all me!)  Having an organization system is essential.  It makes it easier to make sure everything is in one place and if you are looking for something, its easy to find!

Last year we purchased a desktop for our home.  This has become the main home for all things.  Every card after we shoot, gets dumped onto a hard drive here.  If something is on a laptop, or an external hard drive, it should be a copy.  I have a terrible track record with laptops and feel that at any point, everything I have stored on there could be gone in an instant.  After losing an external hard drive a few years back and paying to have that recovered, that is something I never want to ever go through again.

So depending on the date of the photo we have hard drives on our computer broken down by years.  Basically right now our photos are on 2 hard drives within the computer.  One with pictures before 2012 and one with pictures after 2012.

photo organization 1Choose the year and once you click on 2014, you see 2 divisions since I separate client images I take and personal photos for our family.

photo organization 2Within the personal photos, I like to have them broken down by month so I can quickly find a month at a glance.

photo organization 3This is where it gets important.  Within each month, there is  labeling system that has to be applied to each folder.  This labeling system makes searching for photos a lot easier and it also orders them within the folder. It was hard to get used to at first but once it became a habit, its nothing.

Start with the year, then the month (abbreviation of month in parenthesis), then the day the photos were taken.  That is the important part.  A description is optional but I like to see what is in each folder quickly so I add a description.  This a quick look at the photos we took in December of organization 4Once you click on the folder you see the RAWS and the JPEGS.  I have started to export an EDITED IMAGES folder to each group when I edit them in Lightroom.  This was I have a separate file of JPEGS that have been retouched and I know are favorites and ready for printing or blogging.  We have discussed only keeping raws of our very very favorites and doing jpegs of the rest to save space but don’t have a concrete plan on doing this in the future organization 5In addition to our home computer, we also have a subscription to Carbonite to keep our photos backed in the cloud should something happen to our computer such as a fire.  I also recommend a complete back up on an external hard drive (best if stored in a location other than your house).  Hopefully that makes sense and was helpful to someone.  Thanks for reading. 🙂


Thanks for being here! I am Lindsey, mom of 5 littles and avid photographer. We love exploring, traveling, and taking photos everyday.


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