in Photography


Photo Archival Advice For Digital Creatives

One downfall of the modern digital cameras opposed to the film days is burst mode. Now I’m not saying I hate burst mode, in fact, I love it, but the downside to shooting 5, 6, 7, 8… frames per second are the speed you will fill up your memory cards and storage space. Some of the new photographers that I know will go out shooting and when they come home will just dump the images from their day to the internal drive of their computer. Then after some time they will come to me and say “Callum, my computer is running slow” or “Callum, my hard drive is full, what do I do now… Do I need to buy a new computer?” The first thing I do is ask them where they have been storing their entire picture collection. The reply is mostly the same either “in a folder on the Desktop” or “in the Picture folder” or something similar.

This can be solved quite simply, be it clearing some room on your computer’s hard drive, or backing up your image files in case your computer goes bad. Here is a quick guide on how to archive your images onto an external hard drive this.

The first thing to do is to go to Amazon or some Big Box Store to pick up an external hard drive, I recommend a drive that has a USB3 or Thunderbolt interface (USB3 for Windows / Mac and Thunderbolt for Mac users) and is at least 1TB in size. You can pick up a 3TB USB3 on Amazon for £79.98 including Prime delivery. Once you have your drive, plug it into your computer, if it is a Desktop Drive these require external power, so fire the power cable into a mains outlet. The next step is reviewing your images. You will be surprised at how many out of focus shots you have of your new car or how many pictures you have with your hand/finger in front of the lens. When you are reviewing be quite ruthless with your choices. A number of people I hear saying “…its digital shoot lots of the same shot, it’s not like you have to pay to develop them…”, while this is true what is the possibly that you will need 23 shots of the same tree, from the same angle.

Once you have gone through all your images, now this may take a while if you have never performed such a task before. Open up the new external hard drive on the computer. The next step is creating a filing system that you will stick to. The system that I use looks a little like this. I have the main hard drive, I then create a folder called ‘Images’, then a folder for the ‘Location’ of the image, then one for the ‘Year’ I took the shots, then I archive them with date as the folder title starting with the day (05), month (04) year (2014), and places the images inside.

In the end, the location of my images looks like this:

Bear in mind that this is only my way of working, you may come up with your own method of working, and it might be even easier than mine!

After the images have been successfully archived on your external drive, you can they use a piece of image cataloguing software to keep them within easy reach. There are quite a few to choose from Adobe’s Lightroom has a library feature, which is what I currently use, the only downside is unless you own a copy of Lightroom, you have to pay to get one. There is also free cataloguing software that has good performance; Google’s Picasa has some of the same features as Lightroom and so does FastStone Image Viewer.

*All prices were correct at time of writing article – 5th April 2014.*