How to Organize and Manage Pictures | Part 2

During the last post, we identified several problems that had you all on the struggle bus trying to manage your photographs. Today, we are going to get to work.

Tip #1 - Cull

You know how in life there are simple things that aren’t easy? This task is one of those things: It’s a simple one, but it’s not easy. Cull. This is so important. It’s a fancy word meaning pick the best and delete the rest. That’s right, I said delete.

I was mentoring a photographer last year and showing her how I used Lightroom for a typical shoot. I showed her how I imported the images, looked through them and assessed them. I let her watch me cull. I picked the best and I deleted the rest. Right then. Gone forever. Panic was written across her face, but I assured her that they were not worth saving. You cannot save everything and keep on top of this. You just can’t. Digital storage space is an issue. Physical storage space is an issue. Time for management of the pictures is an issue.

You know how when your child has one special toy, like a car or a Barbie, they carry it around and become so obsessed with it? So you think, “Oh! My child loves cars/Barbies! I shall buy them more and ask all the grandparents to buy them, too!” Pretty soon you have a zillion of the toy and the child either becomes overwhelmed and doesn’t even play with them, or just sticks to that one original one that caused the obsession? More is not always better. More is probably never better! The same goes for pictures. In order to have time, space, and a system designed to help you enjoy the best, you can’t have a gazillion.

Another thing I did before was go through my few boxes of prints and got rid of actual photographs. My dad was a chronic over-shooter in the film days. You would not believe how many pictures of race cars and butterflies we had. Once day, I went through the box and put all the pictures that didn’t strike a memory, didn’t strike me as particularly beautiful, didn’t mean anything to me (there were lots of these- I don’t know why in the world he took some of them), were doubles, or should belong to someone else. I had been afraid to get rid of them for some reason, but afterward it was freeing. All I had left were the pictures that held a memory, beauty or some other significance. Those were the pictures I really wanted.

You need to start today and you need to be brutal. You do not need 25 images of basically the same thing with a minor variation. All this does is bog down your Camera Roll to the point where you become overwhelmed and decision fatigue takes over.


Let’s say you’ve come back from the ball park or a weekend in Chicago. Maybe you’ve just been on vacation or celebrated Christmas. Your first job is to sit on the couch for 10 minutes and look at your pictures. You know, instead of wasting time on Instagram or Twitter. Look at the pictures and pick the best of the best and be hard on yourself. Sure your baby with her adorable grin looks just as cute in all 25 nearly identical pictures. I know she does! But you need to pick the favorite. Delete the rest. Which picture from the ballpark is good enough? Get in the habit of doing this after every couple days if you’re a shutter happy person, like me. If you take less pictures, you have an easier task! You’ll be left with only the best images. You are going to be saving the ones you can imagine in a frame, photo album, Chatbook, storage box or photo book (more on that later!). This gets easier the more you do it, I promise.

Actually using a camera? Same plan. You can delete right from the camera, or wait until you see them on the big screen of your computer. Do you use iPhoto? Cull there. Lightroom? Photo mechanic? Delete, delete, delete, until you’re left with the best. Once you’ve deleted them, start at the beginning and do it again. Seriously. In a typical shoot with a family, I overshoot. I delete at least half of the pictures I take on the first run through. Then I go through the pictures again and delete more. Often, I do this a third or fourth time! It’s a necessary part of mining out the best diamonds.

Tip #2 - Take less photos!

Easy enough! Except it’s not. Back when we only had 24 shots per roll of film, this was just part of taking pictures. Now we can burst-mode to our hearts content. This can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it!

Try this: take a few pictures, put your phone or camera away, and enjoy yourself! Commit some of those memories to actual memory! When you get home, go back to Tip #1. Start a good habit today!

This is where I’m stopping today because I know you’ve got work to do. Start with the photos on your phone and camera that are currently waiting for management. Let’s not go back into old SD cards and files quite yet. Start with something that is current. Compare, swipe left, swipe right. Which is best? Delete the others.

Once you’ve done that, we will talk about getting them edited and organized in the digital space!