Family Photo Albums: A Thing of The Past?

We all remember going to our grandparent’s house and looking through photo albums for hours, reminiscing. Grandma still has those albums and we look at them less frequently as time goes on.


It’s like a broken record to say that we’re living in an ever-growing digital world and print is slowly phasing out of our everyday lives. Most stores I shop at offer email receipts. Banks and utility companies are urging their customers to “go paperless.” It’s the same with our photos.
We don’t bring a friend over to our parents house and climb up to the attic to flip through and find that one picture of us in high school with the funny hairdo. We pull out our phones and open an app. We pull out our computer and, within a half dozen clicks (at most), we have the photo we’re looking for.

In the first of this two-part post, I just want to dive right in to what I believe to be the best solutions for your memories!

Most times, when you upload photos to your computer, you’ll see file names like “IMG_xxxx” I know. It’s annoying and software developers should have created an algorithm by now to remedy this issue. In the meantime, let’s talk this through.

The easiest way that I’ve found to process and finalize an album is to open two Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) windows and put them side by side. I personally like to use Apple’s Split View and drag the camera files from the external source over to the new folder, after renaming and purging excess files.

To start, you will first go through and start eyeballing for the “bursts” of shots where you took twenty pictures of the same thing to get the shot “just right.” Those repetitive shots are easiest to pick out of a crowd of files, and they’re also the largest portion of files most times. This makes it easy to declutter your collection quicker. (If you’re using Windows: of the large set of burst photos, I find “the one” I want to keep and rename the file. Then, I can highlight all the others and delete all but that one. If you’re using Mac OS X or macOS Sierra, in the Photos app, you can see a summary view, with the option of an expanded view of a photo in that burst. With Photos, it allows you to “Select a Favorite” and asks if you want to keep or delete the others. See screenshot below)

Once those are out of the way (deleted), I like to focus on tags. On a Mac, it’s an OCD dream come true because you can create unlimited and color-coded tags for everything. I’ll open my Finder window containing the pictures and increase the size of the image previews so that I can get an easier visual on what’s in the photo without opening it. There will inevitably be photos you have to open and look at, especially if you’re doing years of photos at a time like I am. For this example, we’ll act as though we are just promptly uploading pictures from last night’s birthday party.

Find identifiers (preferably one word, abbreviated) and use that as the file name. For example, for my wife’s birthday party, I selected all the files and renamed them “HW2016BDAY.” (HW is her initials) In macOS, the Rename feature allows you to rename a batch of files at once with options like “Name all” with a numeral at the end in ascending order. More on this in a later post!

I will caution you by saying that if you’re going to be consistently using “tags” on top of folder hierarchies, you may be better off not spending time renaming files. Some may argue that, but as long as you have a way of searching and finding the file you’re looking for, it shouldn’t matter, in my opinion.

You’re pretty much done at this point, unless you want to do any actual photo editing. In the next post, I will give you a quick overview of how I catalog my photos that has made it much easier for me to drag and drop when I’m short on time.

Feature Image Credit: Analog Girl In A Digital World


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