Yes, these photos are crap, but they are my crap.
January 24, 2009 11:08 PM   Subscribe

Please describe your process for getting photos off your digital camera and into some kind of storage.

I have two laptops (home, iBook, and work, PC) and one desktop (home, PC). Depending on where I am and what I want to do with the photos, I might connect the camera to any one of these computers. I tend to upload most photos to my Flickr pro account or to my Dropbox. Ostensibly, my home PC is the repository for all of this stuff, but it doesn't always get there. Also, the actual process is very cumbersome depending on where I am. Connecting and opening the folder with the pictures and figuring out which images are decent, then getting those uploaded or stored, seems to take too much time.

I am not a photography enthusiast; these are mostly vacation snapshots, pictures of my cats, or other random stuff. I am just struggling with the best way to manage my photos. Should I just be uploading everything to Flickr? If not, what should I be doing?
posted by cabingirl to Technology (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Here's what I do-

I make it a point to always upload photos to my laptop first, into a dedicated root photo directory (which I call 'digipix' in my case), under which I have subdirectorys like 'family' 'events', 'places', etc. I sort the photos into the proper subdirectories there. (Yes, it can get complicated- I have folders for each of my grandkids, and multiple years, at that.) My 'places' folder is similarly subdivided, as well.

Once that sorting is done, I have a batch file that copies all the new photos around the network, and to removable drives. I end up with 5 copies of all my photos distributed around my network. At this point, I feel secure in erasing the memory card from the camera.

Why the laptop first? It's likely that it's with me when I travel, and i can dump photos to it (preserving them on the memory cards) and have some backup even when I'm away from home.

I edit and post to Flickr from a nicer video environment on my desktop, rather than the dinky, and not well color-corrected laptop screen. I wouldn't use Flickr or any commercial site as my only backup under any circumstances.
posted by pjern at 11:41 PM on January 24, 2009

Oh, and you should always have a fixed, repeatable workflow that ensures that *all* your photos are saved everywhere- spreading them around willy-nilly is just asking to lose some of them.
posted by pjern at 11:44 PM on January 24, 2009

I launch Aperture on my laptop, import the images from my camera, sort out the good/interesting ones and use the Flickr and Facebook plugins for Aperture to push them to these sites, and delete anything completely unusable. Generally, I'll make at least a decent effort to tag photos with relevant keywords. At this point I'll relocate the image files to an external drive and scp the lot up to my dreamhost account (could substitute this with Dropbox or Amazon S3 if you wanted or even use more than one service). Only then will I delete the originals from my memory card.

Since you have an iBook, you could do all of the above with iPhoto. Essentially the same guts as Aperture, but you already have it, and Aperture is really stupid expensive now.

My preference is to only upload particularly good or interesting snaps to Flickr because I think it makes for a more interesting and useful photostream. Certainly some people just upload every photo they've ever taken, but I think you can do better.
posted by zachlipton at 12:04 AM on January 25, 2009

I have a large memory card (4GB) that helps. So I don't have to delete too often.

I upload pictures to photobucket, flickr, my gmail occasionally (slow!) and of course to my My Pictures folder. And a USB. I only delete if the pictures no longer make sense to me...
posted by mmmleaf at 12:39 AM on January 25, 2009

Every photo is uploaded to the PC by date taken (by camera, then date, that is. 3 working cameras used in this house). I keep a text file with keywords for each day's shooting. These directories are backed up to external hard drive. As needed, the good shots are moved to a 'best' subdirectory for later weeding. Once the best are finalized, these are moved to a working directory for processing and posting. I rarely delete anything from the original dated directories, even total misfires. I treat these like negatives.

May eventually choose to weed out photos dating back several years, but we'll see. Storage keeps getting bigger and cheaper, so why bother? LOL!
posted by Goofyy at 2:17 AM on January 25, 2009

I copy all the pictures onto the PC, sorting them into folders if necessary. The best ones I upload to flickr. Then I move all the pictures to my external HD. Only when that's done do I delete them from the memory card. I don't delete anything from the external HD, as it's plenty big enough to keep every picture.
posted by essexjan at 2:32 AM on January 25, 2009

I upload to laptop in one big directory and use kphotoalbum to tag and organize them. It uses EXIF data from the pictures so no need to sort by date. Good ones get mailed or facebooked, still waiting for really good ones for flickr. Backups go to work computer (yay terabyte robot arm tape storage) and to web hosting account via rsync.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:41 AM on January 25, 2009

Maybe I'm low-tech and making too much work for myself, but I look at the images via putting the card into my computer, looking at the images by reading them off the card, figgering out which ones I want to keep, saving them to a folder and erasing the rest.

(Part of the reason I do this is because I shoot a lot of images in trying to take capture a few things. If I can shoot one image of something, I can shoot five, try different angles, etc., to boost the odds of getting what I want or getting one I want and four that are mediocre.)
posted by ambient2 at 3:41 AM on January 25, 2009

I download them onto my computer and do a slideshow immediately, to delete the ones I don't want. At the end of the month, I create a folder for that month and year (January 2009) then a bunch of subfolders (Family January 2009, Travels January 2009, etc.). As I'm sorting pictures for filing, I usually delete a bunch more (that means looking closely at similar shots and keeping only the best). Every quarter, I burn the photos onto a CD, as a backup copy. As I sort through, I copy the pictures I want printed into their own folder so that I can burn it to CD and take it down to the local developer.

For me, the key is to sit down once a month and sort. My particular filing system also makes it easy to find what I'm looking for months or years later.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:45 AM on January 25, 2009

I transfer them to the default folder (My Pictures on Windows), use the slideshow viewer to quickly scan through them and delete the ones which are out of focus or crap, etc. them move the remaining ones to a Photos/YYYY-MM-DD folder. Then I do another pass using Picasa to crop and adjust lighting if needed. Ones I think will be of interest to others then get uploaded to Flickr, with the Flickr Uploadr set to resize them to something reasonable, and tag them. Also, automated backups to ensure memories aren't lost. Timewise, it's fairly quick, the snag is going from a photo I've selected in Picasa to Flickr Uploadr, but that's usually only a few.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:31 AM on January 25, 2009

1.) Transfer them to my laptop into a generic folder i.e. YYYY_MM_DD_DownloadedPictures usually using the software that came with the camera. This date is based on the transfer date to the computer.

2.) Break down the photos into sets. Folders would be something like YYYY_MM_DD_EventName1, YYYY_MM_DD_EventName2, etc. The date here is the first date of shooting for each event, so a weekend trip somewhere will be marked with the date that I first took a picture.

3.) Rename files in each event folder so that they have a common name relating to the event along with a sequential number showing the order of the photo within the greater set. e.g. Thansgiving2008_001.jpg, etc.

4.) Transfer the photo sets to the desktop.

5.) Using a combination of Picasa and Microsoft Picture metadata Powertoy I assign captions and IPTC Keywords to every photo. I'm a bit anal here because I will keyword tag every recognizable person in a photo along with action orientated keywords (laughing, smiling, eating) and thematic keywords (abstract, self-portraits, etc.)

6.) Using a series of homegrown python scripts for image metadata management I am able to see photos that are missing captions and keywords as well as see lists of all keywords I am using (that can help spot misspellings as well as where I have used the singular and plual of a keyword and I wish to normalize the data).

7.) Then I will pick out a subset of photos to upload to their final destination whether that is Facebook, my personal gallery or to be e-mailed to a friend or relative. I typically make this using a a Picasa Album using the YYYY_MM_DD_AlbumName where EventName and AlbumName are the same.

8.) Lastly on a semi-regular basis I do a backup of the Picasa implementation to a an external hard drive that I keep stored in our firesafe. This is in addition to the normalbackups that are machines do.
posted by mmascolino at 6:27 AM on January 25, 2009

rename them with jhead to camera-YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS, then file them to digicam/YYYY/YYYY-MM. After that, rsync them to network storage.
posted by scruss at 7:10 AM on January 25, 2009

My system is similar to mmascolino's, except I don't label the photos until they get into my flickr account. Here's my process:

1. Download the files to my computer; let computer automatically organize them in a folder marked with the date. Delete copies card/camera.
2. Open Picasa. Edit photos that I'll be uploading, and export them to a folder within the date folder called "edited".
3. Upload photos in "edited" folder to flickr. Tag.

By only following this process on one computer, and deleting copies from my camera immediately, I know that I won't have them scattered about on multiple computers. I do backups regularly, and also have share-worthy photos backed up on my (paid) flickr account.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:50 AM on January 25, 2009

I have two computers that I use a lot. Home (imac) and travel (macbook) and I've wanted to make sure that all my photos that I've wanted to keep are

1. put on the main computer eventually
2. backed up

So I usually do this

- pull off all photos from the camera via cable which imports them directly into iphoto
- delete photos from camera (if I'm being REALLY smart, I save a copy on the camera and re-upload them to the local machine but I rarely do this)
- do all my selection and basic editing in iphoto (on either laptop)
- once I'm back from a trip, I copy all the photos from laptop to desktop via sneakernet
- delete all remaining photos from laptop after trip - I only keep a few wallet-type photos on that laptop
- upload awesomest photos to flickr
- backup desktop machine to external hard drive on Sundays
- empty trash on both versions of iphoto regularly

I basically keep Flickr as a sort of index into my photos, so if I'm trying to figure out "hey where are those great photos of that walk in the woods" I can search my flickr tags and then have a decent date idea that I can use to find all the related photos in iphoto. Even though I know where my actual photos are stored on the hard drive, I just use iphoto to keep them basically organized. I have maybe 8,000 photos locally and maybe 6,000 (many, but not all, the same) on flickr.
posted by jessamyn at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2009

Thanks for the input, everyone. I think the download to one computer, delete the crap, and upload the best ones to flickr is where I want to be. I find I prefer the PC to the Mac for this...I may be a philistine but I don't like working with iPhoto.

Where the process is breaking down for me is when I have a one-off photo that I want to put online immediately and I'm not at home. Any specific suggestions for managing that?
posted by cabingirl at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2009

I don't know how you feel about either re-downloading or putting a little speed bump in, but how about a tag on flickr that you use for just this instance. So takemehome or something where you can search for that tag weekly and go fetch the photos that are on flickr but not on your main computer? You could either get the pic from Flickr if you're not worried about a little lossiness or you could have some way to automate fetching only those images from the work/away machine to the home machine. Then once you've gotten the images, you can delete the tag from the Flickr photos.
posted by jessamyn at 10:32 AM on January 25, 2009

If I upload a photo from my camera to a computer other than my main one, I simply set it not to erase from my camera. Then I can re-upload it when I get home.
posted by decathecting at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2009

I just came back in to mark best answers. I liked all of them but I don't spend any time on organizing or color correcting so I picked the more streamlined ones. Thanks again all!
posted by cabingirl at 9:17 AM on January 31, 2009

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