That’s the number of digital photos I had at this time last year. In order to come up with that figure, I had to add up the number of photos stored on my phone, external hard drive, random SD cards, my husband’s phone, our laptops, the iPad, and my DSLR. They were everywhere! And when it came to sifting through those photos to find one in particular, it wasn’t always the happiest trip down memory lane, tripping over misplaced files, hitting random potholes of catch-all folders, constantly taking wrong turns due to mislabeled date/time stamping. It was a tangled mess of yarn, and even though the photos were “saved” to my laptop, the memories were as good as buried simply because I had no effective way of accessing them.
After spending 3 months as a photography intern with someone who had been in the business for over 10 years, I was keenly aware that my 20,836 was nothing compared to what I would accumulate in the next decade. I knew that if I didn’t do something about the disorganization right away, I’d eventually end up paralyzed by the enormity of the mess and chaos; so I was so grateful to be invited to take Life Captured’s Photo Organisation class and put our digital memories in order!
Ronnie put together a fabulous curriculum and organizational system with thorough explanations and beautiful photography that she walked us through week-by-week, slowly equipping us to unravel the mess and straighten out the tangles. I never knew Lightroom could help me categorize and sort so many photos at once, and that with the stroke of a few keywords I could pull up any photo I wanted.
Over the past year, I’ve been sorting and labeling our photos, slowly storing them in a sensical, consistent way. Now all 20,836 photos are housed within one Master File Folder. It’s a beautiful folder divided up by year, month, date, and time, and all the photos from 2014 until now have been labeled with keywords, allowing me to pull up anything I wish. If I want a picture of Aletheia smiling, I’ve got it. If I want to find that random photo of the alien balloon strapped to the front of the church building on Lafayette St, no problem. They’re all there, tagged, sorted, and happy. And I’ll continue to work my way backyards until every last photo has been tagged with keywords.
Not only have the photos been organized, but they’ve been downsized too! We talk about minimalism when it comes to possessions and design, but what about when it comes to our digital world? Do I really need all those photos of food or coffee? Will seeing hundreds of pictures of the sunset make me happy when I’m old? Throughout this process I carefully evaluated what was worth keeping and what was worth letting go. Consequently, I actually reduced the number of photos from the 20,836 I had last year to the 13,963 I have today, including the ones I’ve added to the collection in 2016!
Why put in all that effort? Well because I believe in storytelling. Because I believe in the value of sharing those stories with the next generation. I’m not a scrapbooker, but creating physical family albums is important to me. So being able to easily find those photos of my kids or of our house or of our city is so helpful to me in making that goal a reality. It’s less about the system and more about the result of that system. Being able to artfully tell our story is one of my richest enjoyments.
This isn’t a sponsored post or one I was asked to write. It’s just one of those things that has changed my life in such a beautiful way that I wanted to share it. Investing in a Life Captured class is something you’ll see returns on year after year, something your kids will reap the benefits of. A new session is about to begin and registration is open until September 26th!
Do it for simplicity. Do it for the story.