Northwest Landscapes


Enjoy these great photographs from our local talent, and learn some tips from a pro.


(Nels Akerlund photo)

Photo Tips From a Pro: How to Organize and Protect Your Images


I imagine most of you reading this can recall when organizing photos meant you needed a collection of shoeboxes and a closet in which to store them. If you were really high-tech and self-disciplined, you placed them in an album with the date and identity of your subjects penciled on the back of each photo. Well, the days of needing more shelf space have given way to needing more hard drive space to store your beloved digital snapshots. The digital age certainly seems more exciting and streamlined: take the photo, download it to your computer, share it with friends via email or Facebook and print it on your home printer. What could go wrong?

The concept of storing and organizing your photos is known by the acronym D.A.M. (Digital Asset Management). It may also be the term you use if you can’t locate a certain photo you know is hiding somewhere on your hard drive. To prevent this, your goal is to have a system that allows you to store and organize your photos so that they’re easily accessible, while also protecting them from being accidentally deleted.

Let’s start at the beginning: before you download the images from your camera, designate a place on your computer where you want to save them. A folder called “Pictures” is a logical location. This will be the parent folder, and you’ll create a new folder within it for each new event you photograph. (Let’s use “Hawaii_2011” for this example.) With this system you’ll have one “Pictures” folder containing all of your images in folders, which are named and dated with something that makes sense to you.

Once you download the images from your camera, they will be in a folder named “Hawaii_2011,” but each image will still be assigned the generic filename your camera selects as a default. I feel it is paramount to give each image a unique filename as it relates to its subject or event: Hawaii_2011_0001, Hawaii_2011_0002, etc. This will help prevent accidentally overwriting an image with the same default filename that your camera assigned the last time you downloaded images. It also allows you to quickly identify and search images by their filenames only, without having to open each to see what it is. Renaming files is an important part of the process, but it can be complicated, depending on your skill set and available software. Most computers have a program that will allow you to batch rename a folder of images to prevent you from having to rename each image individually. In my case, I use a program called Adobe Lightroom to batch rename all of my images.

Now that your images are in one organized location on your computer, you need to think about backing them up. There are many ways to do this, including using an off-site, cloud-type server; using an external hard drive; or burning images to a DVD. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to store a copy of your images somewhere safe to prevent the loss of your data. I make three copies of every image I take and store two of them on-site and one copy off-site.

The process of D.A.M. can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, but I highly recommend you implement a plan that works for you. If you follow these steps, finding that funny photo of Uncle John with the lampshade on his head from Christmas 2011 will be a breeze. ❚

For more information on Nels Akerlund, visit his website at www.NelsAkerlund.com.

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