Hey all! This post is about photo organization! If you’re here just to see my work … you’ll have better luck following this link here. 🙂

Let’s face it. We live in a digital world. We take pictures all day long. But at the end of the day, how do you deal with all of that media?

I’ve been taking pictures constantly since I was a teenager. And, believe it or not, I got my first digital camera when I was in high school (about 20 years ago). Back then my camera took HORRIBLE 400×600 photos. The quality was horrific. But it was digital and it was revolutionary and I brought that camera with me everywhere. The pictures weren’t even worth printing larger than 2×2. I paid over $300 for that thing!

But my point is that I’ve been needing to organize my digital photos for many many years. Five years from now I want to be able to find a certain set of photos without taking hours of digging through files that all follow the same naming format of DSC_####.jpeg. I’ve gone through a handful of methods over the years but for the past 10 years at least I’ve followed this one format and it works perfectly for me.

My non-professional file names ALWAYS start with the date. If I were to take a photo today I would name it June0217xxxxx.jpg. That xxxxx part is dependent upon the photo. If I take an entire series of, for example, my kids playing on the trampoline and there are 20 some photos then it would be June0217trampoline01.jpg (and of course the 01 at the end is incrementing). If it were just a single photo of one of my kids it would be June0217elle01.jpg.

This way when I go to find an old photo (which happens more often than you might think) all I have to do is remember what month it was. And sometimes I suck at that. But I can usually narrow it down to a few possible months (sometime in the summer!) and skim through just those three months. Or I can say “we were playing on the trampoline” and just do searches for the word “trampoline.” This system works flawlessly for me.

So if any of you were struggling with this, I hope this helped you out!

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The number one question I get asked during photo shoots, aside from “will you come watch my baby in the middle of the night” is “did you go to school for photography?”

No. I actually went to school for web development. See this beautiful website?? Yeah it’s a template … but I customized it myself!

I took a single photography course in college. The kind with a film camera (it was the year 2000 digital was not all the rage yet) and a dark room and chemicals and all that fancy stuff! I learned some composition basics. I knew nothing about shooting manual. This was not the beginning of my love of photography.

I didn’t initially fall in love with the art of photography. I fell in love the the ability to capture memories. Back in the day we used film and everything got printed. So I had (still have) albums and albums of photos of me and my friends having a blast. I had a camera on me 90% of the time and I used it! It was just a cheap little $30 camera. Nothing fancy. But I had SCADS of photos. And I would love to look at them and remember what we were doing when I took those photos.

20170524_144736(A day with the neighborhood kids. We were filling buckets and dumping them on whoever was below under the big plastic tarp … a memory I would have lost without these photos. I was about 13 years old at this time.)

20170524_145015(This was during the time 12 years ago when I lived in France. This shot was on the plane or train between destinations in Italy. I am pretending to be scared of the monster we created and named “the gorgonzola.” We have shots from all over Europe of this mysterious creature.)

I laughed so much looking through my albums to find a couple pictures to share with you!

It wasn’t until I was much older that I fell in love with the art side. Now I’m a total light junkie. You might call me a snob. Might is a little nice. I’m a total snob when it comes to my pictures.

But the WHY is still the same. I want to capture the memories. The REAL TRUE memories of you playing with your babies, of you having your traditions, of you and your family living your lives. My pictures look a lot prettier now that I have a big girl camera and I know how to use it and I am a light junkie … but the feeling behind it all is the same.

April3014painting08(Painting fun with my girls 3 years ago. SO TINY AND CUTE!! I still have these paintings on my wall.)

Remember when you did that? Remember when they looked like this? Remember when this was such a big part of your lives? Remember how much fun it was (remember how hard it was?)?

Let me help you remember. 🙂

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My mother’s mother passed away 3 years ago. I have never been more shocked by a 90 year old’s death than her’s. We weren’t super close but every time I was in town I would take my kids to go see her. She would get down on the floor and play with them. We would go to the playground and she would go down the slides with them. There never was a more active great grandmother than her.

I thought she would outlive us all.

When she did pass it was very sudden. She was fine. But then she was sick. And then 3 days later she was gone. I suspect she knew she was sick but chose not to tell us. We’ll never know for sure.

After she passed I, naturally, inherited the photos. ALL of the photos. TWO GIANT BINS of photos. And they sit in storage to this day while I figure out what to do with them. But I went through them all. It wasn’t just photos. There were letters and diplomas and all sorts of amazing stuff. But of course it was the photos that sucked me in.

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There she is on her wedding day. I LOVE this photo.

We’re in a digital age now. We take photos with our phones 20 times a day. Our cameras are all digital. Everything is online or on Facebook. So often, we don’t print a thing. We just trust that it will always be there. I know that I, as a professional, have all of my photos backed up and backed up again. And I’ve been doing that for YEARS. As in, my first backups of my friends photos when I was a teenager are on floppy disks. FLOPPY DISKS. Do you think I can look at those? NOPE. Then later I backed up onto CDs. I have scads and scads of CDs full of photos. Mine, my customers … tons of them. Guess who’s computer (that’s 4yo) doesn’t have a CD drive! So then I switched to an external hard drive and even later, the cloud. I can still use both of those things. But for how long?

What will your great grandchildren know of you? Will they be able to see your photos?

An excellent example of this just occurred as I was writing this blog post. I went hunting for all of the old photos of my grandmother that I KNOW I scanned into my computer. I can’t find them. The one I posted above is the only one. I looked through my current computer and all of my various back ups and they’re gone. At least I know I have the originals in storage. But what if the digital file WAS the original? How many preserved memories could be lost?

I’m not telling you to keep BINS AND BINS full of images like my grandmother did. Here’s my favorite solution as it’s what I do. I print my favorites for the wall (go big or go home!) and I create albums of the rest. One album per year. These albums are often 100+ pages long! My kids LOVE to look at them. And I love knowing that I’ve got them. It’s so easy to keep track of an album rather than scattered images here and there. I just put them on a bookshelf and they look so pretty.

And of course, when you hire me, I can create a gorgeous album for you too.

So here’s my point: print your photos so you don’t lose them forever. Do it for your great great grandchildren. They will want to know who you were.

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This was another very lucky meant-to-be sort of family portraits session. The forecast for the day was dismal. I was so sure we were going to cancel. And then mom messages me the night before telling me she’s stuck out of town at another airport and won’t get in until at least 1am. This doesn’t look good. But come the next morning the weather isn’t great but it’s not raining. And she texts me and says, let’s go! So off we went! We met at the park. We got an amazing session in filled with leaf throwing, stick finding, rock throwing, and a whole lot of exploring! And 30 seconds after I got in my car to leave … it started to rain.

Meant to be.

It also helps that the portraits turned out beautifully. I can’t wait until they get them hung on their walls!!

dad and son in the parklittle boy running through the leavesmom dad and boy playingfamily throwing rocks into a pondlittle boy looking in wondermom holding her son little boy with his head in the leavesdad and sonlittle boy looking up at a treefamily portraits in schenley park

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