Welcome to Organization Week. First up, as requested by a Gracious Posse follower, is organizing digital photos.
One of the perks of this job is getting to know experts who can make our lives easier. In this case, I have known and admired Lisa Burlee since our Junior League days, dating back to 1994, when we set up a computer lab out of old donated computer parts at the Sacred Heart Center. From a middle school teacher before she and her husband started their family, Lisa slowly built her technology career over the years she was raising her three sons. She began by teaching six hours a week at a local computer lab and then set up a workshop of classes. Now as an empty-nester, she runs her own thriving technology consulting business for home and small businesses. RVA has countless happy technology consumers thanks to Lisa’s expertise, patience and good humor.
When I wrote Time for a Fresh Start, I knew I would turn to Lisa for expert advice in organizing my digital photos. This post addresses photos in digital format only. Look to this Friday’s post for advice on organizing your hard copy photos to prepare them for their digital life. (Note: I will be referencing and demonstrating with the Apple iMac and the most current version of iPhoto software.)
To start making sense out of your photo library, you need to
1. decide a naming convention
2. name Events with the new convention
3. rename old Events, subdivide old Events into meaningful ones, move or merge Events into re-named Events.
Step 1 — Decide What Event-naming Convention Works for You
My digital photos have had no organization methodology whatsoever.
Until our session with Lisa, I had no appreciation of the impact that years of importing photos, synchronizing devices and Photo Stream without naming Events consistently has had on my iPhoto library. All I knew was that it was very time-consuming to locate photos I needed to use.
I am going to adopt Lisa’s naming format going forward: by year, then event, such as 2014 Christmas. All of your photos from 2014 will group together in your library, for example, if you use this method. You could name your events after children or vacations, but for Lisa and me, using a year first makes the most sense.
Step 2 — Name your Events Using Your New Naming Convention
It is imperative to understand that your digital photos live in one place: Events. If you don’t organize and name your events when you import photos to your library, iPhoto will do it for you, with the descriptive
to describe the group of pictures it holds. Try to find the photo of your precious Muffy at the dance recital in 4th grade with a multitude of Unnamed Events. Better pour a cup of something to keep you company while you scroll through your thousands of photos.
Tip #1: Organize by Event, using a consistent naming convention that makes sense to you.
A word about Albums in iPhoto: photos don’t reside there. They just point to the events holding the photos. Your photos live only one place in iPhoto – in Events. For instance, if you are going to collect photos of a child for his high school yearbook senior ad, name an album something like John’s Raps and Taps, then add photos to that album as you scroll through your events. You’ll have those photos at your fingertips in the album when you are ready to use them.
Lisa has always told me to organize by event as a precaution. If you wish to use a different photo application other than iPhoto down the road (or you switch entirely to a PC), your events will move, but the albums will not. You could lose your filing method if you file by album. (Although there is a work-around for moving albums, I’ll let Lisa sort that out with you if you need it).
Tip #2: Use Albums to organize photos for projects, not permanent organization.
Step 3 — Rename and/or Move Photos to Events
Begin by importing photos still residing on cameras, phones or tablets. If you are an iPhone or iPad user and you have turned on Photo Stream, all of your photos should be in your current photo stream or previous months’ streams. You may want to import and delete them just to free-up storage on those devices.
One of the few events descriptively named in my library contains photos from my choir trip to Italy, but they are named by city only. The easiest organizational change to make here is to simply rename the event, in this case 2013 Choir Trip Rome.
How to Create a New Event out of an Existing Event
You probably have oodles of untitled events with photos taken on the same day; perhaps they are from one event, but possibly not. In that case, you should subdivide that untitled event, creating a new event(s) from the related pictures. Here’s how.
Δ Choose an event to begin organizing your photos.
I chose this unnamed event because it was filled mostly with photos from our review of the Lewis Ginter Splendor Under Glass Gala.
Δ Select photos by clicking on them from that event that you want to choose to file in a new event.
Δ Choose Create Event from Events Menu.
Δ Find the new untitled event (pink arrow) that was created with selected pictures and change the name to your new filing system name (click on the words untitled event to change).
The green arrow in photo below points to the two unselected photos left from the original event. You then can either rename that untitled event or move the pictures to other named Events.
In this case, I’m going to rename that event 2014 November and begin moving photos taken in November to it that are not related to a specific event. As I go, I will delete unwanted ones. In the photo below I’ve clicked on four photos above it and dragged them into the 2014 November event.
Continue subdividing, renaming, moving and deleting until you are satisfied with your organized library.
Note to Photo Stream Users: Photo Stream automatically creates an event out of each month’s Photo Stream, so for photos taken on your iPad or iPhone, you don’t need to import them. They already reside in your monthly Photo Stream event and are ready for you to subdivide to other events if you want to do so.
In the example above, December 2014 Photo Stream is an event that lives on my Mac, not in iCloud. The active Photo Stream still holds the rolling current 1000 photos.
Wow, Now What? Can I Do This?
Yes! Just start small. Remember, the naming convention and organizing by events are the MOST IMPORTANT keys to your success. Take one event at a time.
With the volume of digital photos probably residing on your computer and other devices, you may choose to NOT organize old photos. That’s okay, too. Just begin with new photos using the new naming convention. Remember, organizing has to work for you.
Tip #3: Start small.
If you need Lisa’s expert services, she can be contacted at
For our readers living outside of RVA, Lisa does remote support sessions. Alison and I have both had remote sessions with her, and we can attest that it works! In any event, be sure to sign-up for Lisa’s helpful newsletters (just send her an email request to be added to the list). She is well-versed in both the PC/Microsoft and Apple worlds and addresses both environments.
Alison and I appreciate the time Lisa spent with us. Keeping up with the ever-changing digital world is challenging, especially when we have other demands on our time. Thank heavens for Lisa Burlee, the technology expert amongst us.
January 19, 2014
p.s. You only have two more days to enter our Dana Gibson Emperor pillow giveaway. If you think you did enter, please make sure that you completed your entries on Rafflecopter. The photo graphic will tell you how many entries out of a possible 8 have been recorded on your behalf with Rafflecopter.
Sometimes you have to click more than once when you return to the graphic for your entry to be recorded.