It's nearly impossible to scrapbook if you can't find the photo(s) you want to use!
I use Microsoft Windows Vista (and I seem to be the only one in the world who likes it - lol!) so this system is windows based. The way I organize my digital photos is pretty simple, but it works well for me. I guess it is a lot like the system I used for printed photos - filing them by year in a photo box.
On My Computer:
This is what is in my "Pictures" folder right now. All other picture folders from past years are on my external hard drive AND backed up to DVD AND backed up on flickr. I'm totally paranoid about losing photos! My current folders (pictured belw) are also backed up in the same way, but I leave them on my working computer as well so I have easy access to scrap with them or use them for blog posts.
I keep the past year in the folder and also a file for each month of the current year. Since we are only 2 months into 2010, there are only folders for January and February so far. I name each folder in this format: Year- Month or 2010-01 for January. At the end of the year I create a folder just for that calendar year and place all the monthly folders in it.
This is what 2009 looks like when you open up the folder:
There are 12 individual folders for each month of 2009. Inside of those folders I have the pictures for that respective month. I've fiddled around a lot with how to organize these and the best system I have come up with is to label the photos in related groups as I upload them. Here's my February file so far so you can see an example.
You can see that the photos are grouped together by the date taken.
The lego pictures were taken on february 8 so they are titled "feb 08 2010 lego" and then their respective number. This isn't as hard as it sounds, the computer does most of the work for me. When I upload pictures to my computer, a file is automatically created.
I always tag with the month and year. I don't worry about any other tags at this point because that makes it too complicated. After all, I'm uploading pictures from several different days with many different subjects.
Now my computer generated a folder with these new files. I don't rename the folder since I will be moving all of the images within it to my 2010-02 folder.
I open the folder and work on any basic editing that needs to be done. I get rid of the "dud" pictures, evaluate duplicates, and make simple adjustments in Photoshop Elements (more on that in another post). Then I select all the keepers at the same time and select "Rename"
I simply insert the day into the date. Sometimes I start the numbers over at 1 if I have deleted several (like I did in this case)
Putting more details in the title here is optional. I like to do it if I have several photos on the same date of different topics. For example if I went to the beach and the zoo in one day (that would be pretty hard to do here in Utah!) then I would add "beach" to all the applicable photos for that date, and "zoo" to the others. Again, this is optional, and probably not necessary if you are going to tag your photos individually (more on that in a minute).
On Flickr (or another backup site):
Now I upload my new photos to flickr before I do anything else because I know I will at least have 1 backup in place in case my computer crashed. If you aren't familiar with flickr be sure to read this post on 20 reasons why you should use flickr. If you don't like flickr, then just find another site that you can upload your photos to where you will have access to the full resolution versions to download.
My flickr photostream is organized as well. I have folders for each year as well as folders sorted by theme and project.
After the flickr upload, it is time to move them all into the 2010-02 folder. Once I do that , I can just delete the folder that was created with today's upload.
On My External Hard Drive:
Now I want you to know that my folders from past years are not this organized. (Yet!) I do have the framework in place though. Here's a partial shot of my Pictures folder on my External Hard Drive where I keep all of my photo folders.
I actually started the folders with the year my husband was born continuing on through present day. There is also a folder called "Katie Heritage" and one called "Jeff Heritage" - these are for all photos from our respective heritage lines before we were born. So if there is a picture of my parents on their wedding day, it would be filed in "Katie Heritage". Someday, I will have subfolders in our heritage photos, for now I'm concentrating on organizing the pictures from my own lifetime.
What about tagging? I mentioned earlier that I do tag all new uploads with the month and year. I do plan to use the photo organizer in Photoshop Elements 8 to tag my photos, but I just haven't gotten there yet. I love the idea of using the face recognition that elements 8 offers and I know it will be worth my time to use the features there. I do tag all of my photos on flickr as I upload them which really helps me use the powerful search features there. I usually search flickr before my own External Hard Drive and then just download the photo from flickr to work with. It's so much easier and then I'm not opening and reopening my files (which is supposed to reduce the quality over time).
My Organization System:
This system works well for me. I usually have no trouble finding what I'm looking for. If I can't remember the month and year to search for when looking for a specific picture, I can usually find that information on flickr and then either download the image there, or find out where to locate it in my files. I know when I implement more tagging in PSE 8's organizer, I will feel even more organized.
For information on how I file my digital scrapbooking supplies, be sure to read this post on Digital Organization.