Saving and naming your photos
Posted on Feb 01, 2012
This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Digital Photography for the Genealogist
Moving photos from your camera to your computer
There are several ways to transfer photos, and they’re all relatively simple.
USB cable: Connect your camera directly to any PC or printer. Since newer products have USB ports, you can transfer photos to nearly any computer or printer with ease.
Memory card: Remove the memory card from your camera and insert it into a card slot on your printer or a card reader on your PC. Its small size and portability make the memory card great for on-the-go printing.
Camera dock: Set your camera in this device and transfer photos to your PC with the press of a button. The dock also charges your camera’s rechargeable batteries, and connects to a TV for slideshows
Bluetooth: Send photos wirelessly from a Bluetooth-enabled device (such as a camera phone or handheld) to an enabled PC or printer. No cables or components are needed!
Using photo-editing software: If you’d like to transfer photos to your PC, you can download them to photo-editing software where you can edit and manage the images.
Downloading images from your digital camera
Each time you download pictures from your digital camera, store them in a unique subfolder of the current year. For example, if I’ve been taking pictures at a cemetery, I would create a temporary folder that includes my name, photo shoot, and date (day, month, year), such as “Barry Ewell_Beaver_Cemetery 120407”. It makes it really easy to find the photos when I am ready to sort, delete, name, and file.
Deleting bad images is OK
As the years go by and your collection grows, it will be easier to retrieve photos if you’ve named and sorted them.
Simplify your photo-sorting process by eliminating pictures you don’t need. As soon as you download images, delete the shots that are unusable—whether they’re overexposed, underexposed, duplicates, or pictures where your thumb got in the way. But, be sure to keep the ones that image-editing tools can improve.
There are pros and cons to various organizational methods. These guidelines will help get your files under control. You’ll want to experiment to refine your own system.
A few words on batch naming
A key to organizing photos is to give batches of photos a similar name. “Batching” will allow you to perform the same function (like naming) on multiple files at once. This saves time and ensures the changes you make to your files are consistent.
For example, give your Paris pictures a similar name at the beginning, plus an additional descriptor to identify the specific photo, such as “Paris_Eiffel_Tower” and “Paris_cafe_night.” Just open the folder, select all, and rename the photos so that all files for an event are grouped together. Once you’ve moved the files into the appropriate subfolders, you can rearrange them however you like.
Name pictures logically
One way to get organized quickly is by renaming your photos when you download them from digital camera to computer. Digital cameras assign pictures alphanumeric names. But who remembers that JX1000054 was that wonderful sunset shot during your last vacation? Giving pictures descriptive names as soon as you download them will help you remember what they are.
What makes a good name? Think about how you might search for a picture later: Are you more likely to want to retrieve all of your sunset shots at once, or all your Virginia Library shots on the “Jones” line? And when you’re naming your files, use an underscore ( _ ) instead of a space between words to prevent problems later if you post your pictures online.
When it comes to photos that have multiple persons, I try to name all the persons. If I have more than five individuals—as is the case in many family photos—I may title the photo “Ora Jones Family” and then in the catalog name all the persons.
Another key to organizing photos is to give batches of photos a similar name. “Batching” will allow you to perform the same function (like naming) on multiple files at once. This saves time and ensures the changes you make to your files are consistent.
Tip: If you have a folder of pictures with the camera’s default names, such as “DSCN3089,” you can easily rename these photos all at once. Batch renaming of photos is a simple task that can be done quickly and will keep your pictures organized.