Monday, September 2, 2019

How to Find “That” Picture

It is well known how important it is to keep computer files organized.  We create folders and subfolders, often carefully titling files so that we can easily find what we’re looking for.  After all, if you can’t find a document, what good is it?  However, we often do not take the same care in organizing our collections of digital pictures, which can make finding that one picture you’re searching for a monumental task.

With advancements in technology allowing for the storage of thousands of pictures on our phones and in our computers, we have developed a tendency to take more pictures now than in the past since we are no longer limited by film or even SD cards in most instances.  The problem with this arises when all the pictures we take, including the duplicates and mistakes, end up being stored on the cloud, in our phone gallery, or on our computer.  Often, pictures are stored in multiple locations.  Faced with hundreds or thousands of pictures, it’s no wonder that few people want to take the time to go through their pictures before uploading them and dropping them carelessly into folders online or on their computer.  That is of course, if they even upload them at all.  But how do we solve this picture problem?

The first step, ideally, is to limit the number of pictures you’re taking!  I am personally a proponent of taking fewer pictures and spending more time in the moment enjoying your surroundings.  Last year, I went on a road trip with a friend for two weeks and I was amazed at how much time he spent looking at beautiful scenery and animals through a phone screen as opposed to using his own eyes and living in the moment.  I’m not saying that taking photographs is a bad thing, but I came home with a fraction of the pictures he did and was no less happy for it.  While taking personal pictures of family and friends is valuable, you must consider that many photographs of monuments, buildings, art, and attractions can be found online in better quality, for free, compared to what you can produce yourself.  You should ask yourself if every picture is really worth taking and keeping.
Next, pairing your collection of pictures down to the best ones as soon as possible will make for less work later.  Often, you’ve taken multiple pictures of people or things in order to get the best shot.  Once you have it, you should consider deleting all the other pictures of the subject right off your phone or camera soon after to clear space and make it easy to find the best photo right away.
Finally, it all comes down to organizing your pictures, whether that be on a computer, storage device, or cloud-based service.  Just like with other computer files, you need to create folders to organize your pictures if you want to be able to easily locate them.  If you can’t find pictures or it takes too much time, you won’t be able to view or share them and they will be a burden rather than an asset to you.  Now, there are different ways to organize pictures and it’s mostly a matter of personal preference and what you’re doing with them that determines what is best.  For instance, you may choose to simply organize pictures by date, using years or months.  Another strategy is to organize pictures by subject, such as sports, trips, nature, and clubs.  Others might find it easier to categorize by people in pictures with folders for family, friends, or even a single person.  No matter what system you create, sticking to it and keeping up with it so pictures are always organized will make them much more useful to you and to others as the years go on, especially when you’re just trying to find “that” picture you’re thinking of.  While it might take more time now, it will save you time from searching through hundreds of random icons later.

Over time, I’ve learned a couple of tricks that makes organizing pictures easier.  I’ve found it useful to upload pictures at appropriate and regular intervals, such as after a trip or event, so I can easily organize and share them.  I also make sure to delete the pictures off my phone or camera once I have uploaded them in order to prevent duplicates from being uploaded later.  For especially interesting or important pictures, I might also name the individual pictures something specific like I would a document, such as “Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone,” so I can easily find it by searching my computer instead of wading through thumbnails of pictures with randomized names.  Lastly, I try to stick to one source for my pictures so that they’re all in one place and I am careful about cloud backups.  While having the cloud automatically backup files provides protection against deletion, I like to manually back up my pictures periodically once I’ve organized them so I am not saving backups of pictures I have deleted or not yet organized.


By Joe Dumais

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