Some Photographic Housekeeping!

I'll be honest - the current lockdown has sapped my creative instincts in the past week - I know that the many weeks of working as my alter-ego of supermarket assistant in stressful circumstances and worrying about elderly family members who are far from where I am caught up with me.

These are extreme times but often my creativity needs me to walk away from it and to occupy myself in more mundane, process driven and, quite frankly, boring tasks!

Doing a boring, repetitive task often kick starts an idea in my head - that eventually leads to some creativity. It could be traditional housework - ironing, cleaning etc but today I'm involved in some essential housework on my photography archive! They might not be in a box like the one above but they can easily end up just as chaotic!

Over the years I've had a simple system for both my personal and professional files; folders by year for personal stuff and by client for professional work. This has, up to now worked I find the following is true for my personal archive;

  1. 16 years down the line filing just by year makes searching for older images much harder. I can remember which year I went where but which year did I take that dandelion photo I want to use?

  2. I switched from Windows to Mac a couple of years ago but some of my older archive was still on a Windows only external drive!

  3. Whilst I am now much better at culling images I will never use, there are many folders of photos where I didn't do this in the past - meaning valuable memory space is being filled up unnecessarily...

Does any of this sound familiar?

Here's my process to organising this mountain of files - it might be useful for some of you who have been putting off doing the same! And some of the things I discovered along the way!

1. Consolidate all my files onto one external hard drive - this is a little slow but I've been doing this in small chunks. A couple of year folders at a time. This will ensure that all my images are backed up to my cloud backup too - if you don't already do this you really should!!

2. Reorganising my folder system. All filing systems need to be reviewed from time to time and as I have transferred and consolidated my files ideas for better filing just popped up quite naturally.

For example - year folders are now just for holidays and events in that year; folders of family images are now in a Family folder and my numerous images of flowers are now in a Flora folder and so on. All my iPhone photos will be reorganised into subjects or events and where appropriate moved to the appropriate folder.

3. Deleting folders of images that are not significant and/or that I've never used for anything - hard I know to delete things but I'm being quite ruthless especially when I've taken better examples in subsequent years!

4. Checking my Lightroom catalogue; I'm reconnecting the programme, if necessary, to the source files starting with the earliest files in the catalogue.

I'm reviewing the images and deleting the obsolete/unwanted files both from the catalogue and the hard drive. Fortunately Lightroom allows me to do this in one go.

NB not all my images are in my current Lightroom catalogue - at this stage I'm only adding older images to the catalogue if I see an immediate need to.

5. Running a duplicated file search. I know, or at the very least, have a strong hunch that I have some files in multiple places on my system. I'm using software to help me with this - otherwise I suspect I won't do it!

There is plenty of freeware out there to use - do your research and run virus checks. I'm trying Disk Drill out on my Mac initially as it quickly provides me with a list of what it ascertains are duplicates and allows me to sort and delete as necessary. I will do this is small batches to make sure I don't delete anything by mistake!

My go to IT expert - Ash of Intercounty Computers suggests Duplicate Cleaner for Windows because it's the "only free one...that checks the actual contents rather than just the names"

Allow yourself time to do this in chunks of time - brain fatigue can result in errors that are not recoverable!

Play whatever music keeps you entertained at the same time!

Allow yourself to be distracted by looking at old photos - there's real joy in rediscovering photos you'd forgotten about!

Image sourced at - Life-of-Pix

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All images © Sarah Holmes 2021 No reproduction without prior permission.