Posts Tagged ‘Digital Photos’

Getting a Good Digital Photo for the Family Holiday Card

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

The holiday season is fast approaching, and for many this means it’s time to take a digital photo of the family to send out in the yearly holiday card. Doing something interesting and uncommon can make your cards more intriguing, but you can’t beat the traditional family portrait. The same rules for conventional digital photography tend to apply, but you also have to account for the difficulties created by trying to get everyone in the family into the shot.

You should probably think about the timing of your photos, whether you want a theme, and how you’ll get a “good” photo. You can take great holiday family photos to send out with the yearly card, year after year, without worrying too much about these details. But if you don’t have the time to waste an afternoon without getting anything, you probably need to invest some time and forethought so you aren’t just shooting blind.

First, decide if you want a recurring theme in your yearly family photo. Many choose to shoot their family photo in the same location every year, or to wear similar clothes every year, which is not necessary, but it helps to give your photo a unique and identifiable element that people will recognize. It’s easy to do and also means that after a number of years you’ll be able to put together an album of just those photos that will show how the family has grown and changed.

The next hurdle is getting everyone in the family ready and in position at the location for the photo. The easiest way to do this is to pay a professional photographer to direct the action and take the photos. If you want to do it yourself, you need a decent camera with a timer, a tripod, and some patience and experience. You don’t have to get too creative with your shot composition or anything like that. You just want soft, even lighting that makes everyone’s faces clear but doesn’t create harsh shadows. You should hone the skills necessary to do this before you get behind the camera with your family waiting, as it’s not immediately obvious how to use natural lighting and maybe a bit of cheating with bounce cards to create the right light.

Once you have the framing and lighting right, you just need to set up the timer and take several photos. This is important because especially with children, the odds that everyone will be smiling and looking at the camera at the same time are slim. If you have a camera that can snap several shots with each timer, this makes it much easier. Regardless, take the time to reposition everyone, let them relax for a minute, and then shoot again. The more photos you get, the better your chances of finding one you like that seems both happy and natural.

On the other hand, just picking a great photo from a family vacation or trip is completely reasonable. If that’s the easiest way to get a shot of the whole family having fun together and being natural, there’s nothing wrong with this route. The important thing is to be sure it’s a digital photo you will be happy with sending to all your friends and family, because you’re the one interested in investing the time and effort to make it happen.

Organizing Digital Photos

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Face it you have too many digital photos. There are several causes of this situation, but the biggest problem is that it can make finding and using your photos far more difficult. Fortunately, it just takes a little time and a good piece of software to tackle the data creep that is swelling and scattering your photo library of digital photos. So whether you’re a budding amateur photographer, you’re slowly cataloging all your family’s old photos with digital scanning, or you’re just snap-happy with your smart phone, one of these approaches will help you make your time more worthwhile.

The range of software options for organizing your photos can itself be oppressive. The best approach is to focus on the photos themselves, and not worry too much about which software you want. If your first choice ends up being too complicated, it’s easy to try something else. The average situation is a person who has photos spread across multiple hard drives and storage devices, as well as some in their inbox, still on their camera’s card, and on their smart phone. The divide between camera and smart phone might also be perpetuated on the primary storage drive. And then there are the awesome old photos of our childhood preserved with digital scanning in their own folder (hopefully). Most people in this situation want to both make casually browsing their photos easier and more fruitful, and gain the ability to find specific photos or types of photos for projects like photo books or calendars.

Your first step should be the arduous task of getting every photo you have in one place, one main directory, on one drive. That means move everything off your memory cards, download everything from emails, and consolidate. If you don’t have space, buy a used older drive online and use that. If you have a backup, just leave it for now, but get rid of duplicates anywhere else. Consolidating is the biggest change you can make in terms of being able to find and browse photos.

Next, pick organization software. Some people prefer the native folder system in their operating system, and that is fine too. But if you want tagging and any other automatic search and filter, you need third-party software. Picasa, by Google, is a favorite for many, but iPhoto appeals to a lot of Mac users. Flickr is a good cloud solution although getting enough storage costs $25, and you can get some of the same automation with upload and sharing features from cross-platform smart phone apps, if you tend to do most of your shooting and browsing with a phone.

Now comes the hard part. You have to organize and delete. Many amateurs will suggest that you should get in the habit of sorting and deleting photos on your digital camera. This is actually a terrible idea, because you’re relying on the fidelity of the camera’s screen and making judgments based on a 2X2.5 inch view of a shot. You run the risk of discarding really good shots with this method. Just get in the habit of uploading your pictures once a week and filtering through them at the same time. It will force you to actually look at your photos and think about them, which will also make you a better digital photographer.

You can organize your photos however you want, or just let the software do it by date. It’s a good idea to organize by big things like month, then by location, with separate folders or tags for specific vacations or photo projects. Tagging your photos can take a long time, but if they’re already in any sort of order, the process can be easier. Don’t let the idea of coming up with an appropriate tag for every aspect of your life intimidate you. Tags like “vacation” and “California” are often enough when combined with the date to make your photos navigable and searchable.

After a first pass on organization, it’s time to chop. You have too many photos. Getting rid of what are functionally worse duplicates will make organizing and browsing photos easier and reduce storage needs. So if you have three of the same shot, pick the best and erase the rest. Then, make sure your backup is up-to-date, preferably kept in a different place just in case.

Digital photos are awesome. There’s a reason most people prefer a digital camera to an analogue option that requires digital scanning to preserve photos: they are easier and less expensive. But just having photos doesn’t do you any good. Organize them and keep them organized, and you’ll be able to use them for projects as well as review and actually enjoy the memories they captured.

Guest Blog by Cindy Clawson: Tips for Organizing Your Digital Photos

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Most of us love our digital photography toys these days – cameras, phones, tablets.  It seems we can take pictures of almost anything, anytime, anywhere.  But, digital photography can be both a blessing and a burden.  It’s a blessing because we can take 100’s of pictures and choose to keep only the best ones.  It’s a burden because we can take 100’s of pictures, but then we don’t know what to do with them all.  The big question is how to manage and organize everything.  First, let’s assume you have uploaded all of your pictures from your digital toys onto your computer – most computers automatically come with free photo management software or you could use an online photo sharing vendor for storage.  No matter what method you choose to use, be sure to store your images in the same place every time you upload, so choose wisely.  Once you have chosen your storage method, here are a few easy tips to help minimize the organizing burden:

  1. The first step in organizing your digital photo collection is eliminating all of your unwanted pictures.  Yes, it’s okay to hit the delete button.  There is no reason to keep 20 shots of the same mountain or person – keep the best of the best – the ones that inspire you the most and get rid of the rest.  Consider deleting unwanted photos prior to uploading to your computer to save time.  If you prefer having a larger view of the images and want to compare them, then do it after uploading.
  2. Once your photos are uploaded onto your computer, sorting them into a systematic filing system is crucial for future retrieval.  One way you can set up folders within your photo organizing software is by organizing by year and then creating subfolders by each month.  You could also organize your folders by season (i.e., Winter 2010) and use important events as subfolders (i.e., Christmas or Football).  You could consider organizing by person (i.e., Sally) and use subfolders (i.e., 1st grade or Cheerleading).  Or, my favorite way to organize is using a broad category such as “Vacations” and then adding subfolders like “Cancun, 2009” or “Florida, 2010”.  Another example of the broad category method is “Birthdays” and then using subfolders such as “2010”.  If you want to drill down even more, you could subdivide the years using individual names, so it would look like this: Main Folder (Birthdays), Subfolder (2010) and secondary subfolder (Sally).  Whatever method you choose, CONSISTENCY is the key.  This step will take some time, but will be well worth it in the end.
  3. Consider adding tags to your photos.  These are descriptive words or phrases added to an image file.  They offer a quick and easy search method for finding your photos.
  4. Once your photos have been uploaded, delete the transferred images from your camera or memory card so there’s never any confusion which photos have been copied to your PC.  Many people choose to retain photos on their phone or tablet, but be choosy.
  5. The most important step of all – regularly back up your photos!  Images can easily be archived to CD’s, DVD’s, external hard drives, USB thumb drives and online storage services.  Your photos are one of the most precious memories you have, so take the time to do this often.  I suggest storing the backup copies in a safe deposit box or fire proof safe for added protection.

Taking the time to organize and clean up you digital photo collection is a worthwhile activity. You will have the peace of mind that you can retrieve pictures when you need them and you will enjoy being able to review or share them whenever you want.


Clawson is a Professional Organizer and Certified Productive Environment Specialist (CPES). She is also a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and Faithful Organizers and holds her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification.

Clawson can be contacted at 816-223-9093, or via email at  For more information about Ideas in Organizing go to www.ideasinorganizing.comto follow company news, product offerings, web posts and blog links on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.