Diane French Photography Rockland Bergen family lifestyle photographer

Tis the season for restoring order and starting fresh, and that goes for everything from your dresser drawers to your digital devices. Between our digital cameras, smartphones and tablets, we have great photos scattered across many places.

To help you get a grip on the chaos, we present: Spring Cleaning Your Digital Photos Part 1: Organization. Stay tuned for future installments on Backup, Photos With Friends, and Prints & Products.

(*Note that for this series, we are working under the assumption that we are going to pull the photos in from these devices and work with them on one central computer. There are alternatives to the computer-based model but we’ll save those for another day!)


Get Your Settings Straight

Before you take even one more picture on your digital camera, do this:

1. Make sure your time and date is set correctly.

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Google your camera’s model number for the instruction manual if you need to, but by all means, this is a must!

2. If you have a DSL-R camera, make this helpful change to your settings:

DSL-R cameras give each file name a four digit number starting with 0001. When a new memory card is inserted into the camera, by default, the file numbering will begin again at 0001. It is more helpful, however, to go in and turn sequential file numbering ON so that the camera will “remember” the last file number on the current card and continue numbering sequentially when a new memory card is inserted into the camera. The benefit of this is that no two images will have the same file name when you download them to your computer; otherwise you might inadvertently write over duplicate files and lose images forever!

Upload Like A Pro

From your digital camera: First off, let’s establish that memory cards are not an acceptable long-term storage option for your photos. They corrupt rather easily (more on that in a second). So, you need to get in the good habit of transferring your photos to your computer from your digital camera’s memory card asap after they fill up (or earlier if you really want to be on top of your game!).

You also need to make this major habit change: When you are shooting pictures, do NOT delete the bad ones directly from your camera. Wait to do this step until AFTER you have transferred the pictures onto your computer. Why, you ask? Because every time you delete a photo directly from your camera’s memory card, it leaves tiny trace fragments of it behind. Over time, these trace fragments build up almost like a residue and ultimately corrupt your card completely. So, preserve your memory cards and your pictures by waiting to delete bad photos on your computer only, not in camera.

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Then, instead of deleting the photos from your card, you should instead opt to reformat your card.  You will find this on your camera menu, usually in the set up menu (for nikon) or under the little tool icon. Click on “format” once you are sure you have uploaded your photos to your computer. When you reformat your card, all traces and fragments are removed from your card and you have a much better chance of your card not becoming corrupt.  Got it? Good!

From your smartphones and tablets: No matter what kind of storage limits you have, ultimately you get to the point where they are full and your photos are likely the major reason why. Again, now is the time to promise yourself you will transfer these photos to your computer in a timely manner.

No matter what device your photos are uploading from, a great tip is to have your computer rename your individual images with the date the photos were shot. Depending on what program you use to upload your images, some programs give you different date formats such as mmddyy (040615_0001 ) mmmmddyyy (April062015_0001) that you can select. Or  you can also set a custom name like I do with all my client photos such as “Easter 2015_001” or “Lynch_001.” 

File Into Folders With Care

No matter which device you are uploading photos from, this next part is key:

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First, set up folders on your computer for each year.

Then, within that year, make folders for each batch you are uploading, naming these subfolders in a way that makes the most sense to you, whether it’s:

– the date the photos were taken (2015-05-04)

– the name of the event (“Easter 2015” for example)

– the device name and the range of dates they cover (iPhone photos February to April 2015)

– or simply by month (April 2015).

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The key is to have them broken down into subfolders under the year, because that will be the major way you will look back for photos later.

Once your photos are uploaded and you start looking through them,  delete the “bad” (blurry underexposed, overexposed) images as not to take up memory on your computer.

Also create an “Edit” folder (I use the term “Art”) within your event folder for any images you edit, crop or alter. Add the word “edit” to your file name (as in 040615_001_edit) and save with “Save As” not “Save.” Never save over an original file!

Diane French Photography Rockland Bergen County Family Lifestyle Photographer

I hope this helps you get off to a great fresh start. Stay tuned for our next super important installment: Backing Up Your Photos. It’s great to have your photos nicely organized on your main computer, but it’s far more important to establish a consistent method for backing those photos up. As you’ll learn in Part 2, it’s not a question of if your computer’s hard drive will fail, but when!


Looking for someone to help make wonderful memories and tell your story…

Contact Diane at:


(516) 238-1423