1. I would highly recommend getting some photo-album-type software for your computer. Since we have a Mac, I use iPhoto, but there are lots of options for PC’s such as Adobe Photoshop elements (great if you’re going to do lots of editing as well, Adobe Photoshop Album, or Google has a freeware program called “Picasa” that looks pretty good. If you aren’t going to use this type of software than you need to create some system of organization using folders on your hard drive.

2. Either way, decide how you want to organize photos. I use a hierarchical system of Year, Month, Event. For example, under the Year 2007 you would find all 12 Months as sub-folders and each month has “albums” for different events (birthdays, trips to the beach, and usually a miscellaneous album as well). If you’re not a chronological organizer, then you could sort by type of event, or by people involved. The possibilities are endless!

3. Whenever I download pics from my camera I save them all in one place, then sort them into the appropriate albums or folders. Here is the big benefit of the software programs – they generally enable you access a picture from multiple “albums” or “folders” while only storing one copy of the image on your hard drive – thus saving space and avoiding the hazard of having multiple copies that may not have has the same editing done to them.

4. Once you’ve done your quick sort, go through and decide what photos are “keepers”. I know that at first you’ll be tempted to say that they’re all worth keeping but the reality is, unless you’re a pro, they’re probably not! At least not worth keeping on your hard drive. (If you want to keep them all – back them up to CD ROM, DVD or an external hard drive as soon as you download them or right after you’ve edited them. That way they won’t take up space and slow down your computer unnecessarily.)

To easily identify the “keepers” from the “junk”, I give the “keepers” a proper title or file name – and a pretty detailed one at that. For pics of people I include the names of all the people in the photo in the title (ex. Jen Dale Gill Brandon at Air Force Beach). If there is more than one similar shot then I simply number them sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.). The real benefit of naming them this way is evident if you are using an album-type software program – you will be able to search by subject to find, for example, all photos of “Gill” or all “beach” photos. You’ll also be able to do this using the search function for certain folders on your hard drive, but it won’t be quite as simple.

Finally, once all the keepers have been re-named, I simply delete the others.

5. With regards to actually printing your photos, it should be much easier to wade through the “keepers” to determine what ones you want to print than it would be to sort through all the pics you took originally. I’d say that for a major event (wedding, birthday, significant outing) I probably keep only 1/4 to 1/3 of the images that I took originally. In my opinion the easiest way to print your photos is to buy USB drive, save only the pics you want to print onto it and then take it to the store to have the pics printed. Obviously you can upload them to various online stores for printing, but I personally find that the upload software is slow and frustrating and prefer the USB stick method.

6. Finally, a tip for the scrapbookers in the audience. I know many scrapbookers like to have their scrapbooks as well as dedicated “photo albums”. My way of accomplishing this without printing too many copies is to print first off what I think I want to scrapbook. Inevitably I don’t end up scrapbooking every photo I print, so at the end of the year (or perhaps every 6 months) I take the left over, un-scrapped photos and go back to the computer and re-select for printing any other photos that I want to include in my annual photo album (that I either used in my scrapbook or didn’t print the first time around). This tip originated with my sister Gill – kudos to her organizational savvy!