Organise your photos

That must be mission impossible. If I waited to complete this task I would never be able to tick it off on my bucket list because so long as I continue to take photos more organising will be required, to say nothing of the backlog of older photos awaiting organising. In the interest of getting through my list I decided to declare a benchmark other than absolute completion.

Organisation of my photos has been going on for decades in varying ways. As a kid I first used a Kodak Box Brownie that belonged to my parents and then had a Kodak 127. A few black and white images survive from those days. In our early married years we had a Minolta camera and have some black and white images from that.

Dalby State High School had a darkroom and a small group of teachers with an interest in photography. While I was there I learned to develop and print, first black and white and then colour images including slides. I was keen enough to invest in a better camera and some basic darkroom equipment for use at home. Once we left Dalby I never seemed to have time or a suitable space for darkroom work but we continued to accumulate photographs though slowly as was usual when it required time and money to get images out of a film camera.

Some of the photographs we collected in the 70s, 80s, and 90s were placed in albums or, in the case of slides, in boxes. Others stayed in the packages in which they were delivered from developing. Cameras were replaced/upgraded occasionally but were not a major feature of life.

In the late 90s and early 2000s photography began to go digital. Our first real move in that direction was when we lived in the USA (2001-02) and wanted to share photos with family and friends in Australia. I started scanning photos so Majella could attach them to email messages. Those messages and the attached photos eventually made it onto a News from Majella website that I have since moved and preserved. There’s a trip down memory lane for those who want it.

By 2003 I had a simple digital camera and I was accumulating photos in iPhoto on my iMac. Attach the camera to the iMac and iPhoto would ingest the images, arrange them in ‘events’ by date, recognise (some) faces, allow addition of extra metadata like keywords and location, enable arrangement in albums, and support projects like cards, calendars and books. That got things organised to a degree, at least for the digital photos.

In 2006 I graduated to a better camera and we took the first of our grandchildren, Emily, to Europe where Majella was conferencing. Photos from the 2006 trip and those we took in 2008 and 2009 with Joel and Sam were shared with the blogs we published to record the trips. When the original sites (via Apple) were retired I managed to rescue most of the content and put it elsewhere.

I’d joined Flickr in 2005 but made limited use of it until our 2010 New Zealand trip with friends when, combined with Facebook, I found it was a convenient way to share images. Thereafter I created Flickr albums for any significant travel and some other events as they occurred. I also did some retrospective work on Flickr albums for earlier times. When we were travelling to the USA in 2012 I upgraded my Flickr account and established the travel blog that we have been using since in association with Flickr albums.

Meanwhile, as my interest in hobby photography grew again after an hiatus of more than 20 years, I shifted from iPhoto to Aperture, Apple’s ‘pro’ solution which was able to use the same library as iPhoto. When Apple announced the switch from iPhoto to Photos and the end of Aperture I had to think again. After reading Take Control of Your Digital Photos I began to move again to Adobe Lightroom which has since had its own transformation. I’m currently processing photos in Lightroom to keep them in directories that I can manage directly so they are not buried in a package and using Photos to catalog, but not ingest, the same files in its package so that they are more easily integrated with the MacOS. I also upload the processed images to Flickr.

The result is a mixed bag with a lot of work to be done before it could be described as organised. I have 17500 image files in Lightroom but just 4100 in Photos so there is work to be done in matching those collections. There are 10800 photos in Flickr that also need some sorting and weeding. Majella has about 20000 images in her Photos library, some of which will be duplicates of what I have already but that needs to be checked. There are also slides and photo albums with prints that should be digitised and merged with the rest of our collection. My all-in-one printer/scanner/copier has facility for scanning slides but I’m hoping that rather than take images out of albums for scanning I can manage with Photomyne which claims to be able to use an iPhone or iPad to photograph a page from an album and crop out the separate images.

IMG_2335With all that to be done before I can claim to have organised the photos I have, how should I tick off my bucket list item? I decided that one way to declare something organised and complete would be to produce a photo book of our European travels from last year. With about 2400 images to select from after processing and weeding I struggled for a long time to arrive at a workable selection and organisation. Day by day for almost 3 months would be overkill. I wanted to display some of my best images at reasonable size and provide some sense of the whole adventure. Eventually I managed to select about 160 images to tell the story with some short snippets of text. A bit more than a week ago I completed the project in Photos and ordered the book. It arrived on Monday and is now on the coffee table. You might take a look next time you visit or even make that an excuse to come by.