Make a copy of your photos
Whether they’re on your memory card, your hard drive, or your computer’s internal files, we recommend making a copy of your photos. This may seem a little at odds with the concept of sorting them, but it is a highly recommended safeguard in the event you handle them wrong or inadvertently delete files. This way, you secure all your photos and you can locate them in a specific place no matter what happens. Next, you need to thoroughly sort them, which we will talk about below. Once you’re done sorting them, you can start deleting unnecessary copies and replace them with the photos you’ve selected.
Selecting the best images
The main problem with the accumulation of images is the lack of any selection process. Many of us keep a bunch of useless photos––badly framed, sometimes totally botched—out of simple precaution, even though they hold no interest whatsoever. So start by first deleting all those images you won’t be needing and that can’t be used anyway. If you photographed in RAW + JPG, remember to delete both files, especially since the RAW format takes up a lot of memory space.
Fine-tuning the selection
Once the unusable images are deleted, you can start to fine-tune your selection and, by default, your sorting. There are many ways to do this. You can assign a rating system to your favorite images, for example, or copy your favorite images into a separate folder, or rate them by processing priority. This is not about deleting all your images, this is about really sorting them, so take the time to do it seriously, one folder at a time, in order to keep only the interesting images.
Choosing a classification method
The classification method is also part of the sorting process, since it will make it easier for you to find your images later on. You can organize your images any way you wish, whether by theme, by location, chronologically, or other criteria. However, we recommend using the same classification method for all your images, in order to have a consistent system and to be able to find your way around the next time you decide to go through your files. Feel free to further arrange your folders into subfolders for additional clarity.
Renaming your images
You can choose to keep the raw name of your images, but this won’t always make it easier to sort them. Once your files are properly classified, consider renaming them. You can rename them in batches if you have a lot of photos. There are also software applications that can simplify this step. Then it’s about finding a name structure that works for you. Note that the date the photo was taken is always present on your files (if it was correctly programmed in your camera) in the EXIF data. It is therefore not necessary to include the date as part of the image’s name. If you still want to include it, we recommend placing it at the end, but everyone can use the method they prefer. As with the classification process, however, try to always use the same name structure so you can find your way around.
Adding EXIF data
Adding EXIF data can simplify your sorting process and will also help you find your images more easily. EXIF data (Exchangeable Image File Format) is internal information linked to each photo file. They include a lot of data such as date and time, but also exposure settings, geolocation if your camera has GPS, etc. It is possible to add EXIF data directly via your camera, such as your name as the photographer, for example, or your website, so as to protect your copyright, but you can also add it after the fact. So don’t hesitate to add keywords to your photos, along with a short description or any additional information that will allow you to better locate your image later.
Sorting your images requires a little concentration and discipline. Always remember to make a copy in case you accidentally delete or ruin an image, start by eliminating the unusable files, and then fine-tune your selection based on the kind of sorting you want to perform. Then choose the classification method that best suits your needs, rename your images and add EXIF data to simplify your future searches. This is just one example among others; the main thing is to take the time to find what works best for your sorting process to be effective. It’s best not to try to do it all at once, in order to avoid sorting fatigue. This is definitely a rather tedious chore, but one that offers a lot of satisfaction when completed.
By Céline Nebor