With your media located and centralized and a platform chosen, it’s time to put everything together and do some real organizing. If you need to catch up on anything first, check out the Tidy ’24 Calendar page to see what we’ve covered so far.

Photos Week 4: Organize Something!

We’ve made it to the last week in Photos Month! I admit, I’ve packed a ton of stuff into only a few weeks, and I still couldn’t cover everything I would have liked to. Some of you probably have questions, and I highly encourage you to reply to this email or use the Facebook group if you need any input on anything.

After all your research, gathering, and preparation, now comes the moment of truth. It’s time to get the first chunk of your media collection into its permanent home! The goal of this task is first to prove to yourself that you can do it and, secondly, to build motivation to do more. Small wins provide significant encouragement.

Action Steps:

  1. Choose one piece of your collection to organize, such as the photos from a specific day or a single event. If you’re feeling ambitious or don’t take that many pictures, you could try something more significant, like an entire week’s worth of images.
  2. Cull and filter this small media set by removing duplicates and low-quality images using either built-in tools (such as in Mylio or Monument), an external de-duplication tool, or even manually.
  3. Tag or rate the best pictures, being as strict as possible to end up with a minimal final set of “shareable” images or videos.

Once you finish Step 3, celebrate! You’ve achieved something many others only wish they could.

Filtering, Culling, and Cataloging

Generally, no matter what choices you’ve made up to this point, the organization process now requires two things:

  1. A way to choose which pictures and videos to keep and which to get rid of
  2. A way to catalog the media that you want to keep

Choosing what to keep requires identifying first what is meaningful to you in some way—there’s no sense keeping something you don’t care about, after all. Once you’ve identified what’s meaningful to you, you must find the media that is at least reasonably good quality (interesting, focused, well-framed, eyes open, etc.) and unique. By “unique,” I mean you should be willing to toss out all but one image in a set of similar photos. If you take 200 pictures at a family party, for example, perhaps only 20 of them will be the best ones worth sharing with family and friends.

Choosing how to arrange your catalog requires deciding what organizational structure makes sense to you. For example, do you think of your photos normally based on:

  • When you took them? (date-based)
  • Where you took them? (location-based)
  • Why you took them? (event-based)
  • Who or what is in them? (content-based)

While most people intuitively sort by date at some level (yearly or monthly), the other approaches work very well in some cases.

Ideally, you want to use a platform that makes the filtering/culling/rating process as frictionless as possible and the cataloging approach as flexible as possible. This is one of the reasons why I like Mylio so much: it excels in both areas. Mylio works with your own folder structure underneath (even if there’s no structure to speak of!) and then provides you with a “virtual” catalog that you can browse by date, location, event, album, and even AI-detected photo subject matter! It’s truly phenomenal.

(Mylio isn’t the only solution that does this, but I know it works well for this purpose and many others.)

What if you have a hundred thousand photos to go through? In that case, break the job into small pieces. Practice choosing one day at a time, or one week, or one month, depending on how much you can get through in one sitting before you get too tired of the work. You can also work through an arbitrary number of photos (50 or 100, for instance) or give yourself a time limit for each sitting (such as 5, 15, or 30 minutes).

How Does This Help?

This final (and ongoing) part of photo management is the culmination of all our previous efforts. This action gets your media where it belongs: a planned, personalized, permanent home that filters out the stuff you don’t need and simplifies later retrieval, whether you want to share something with friends or family or you just want to revisit memories. Organizing your photos gives you the peace of mind and lack of stress that only a well-functioning and efficient catalog system can.

Who Does This Help?

Anyone with an extensive collection of photos that isn’t already well-organized and easy to navigate will benefit from this final task in Photos Month. It’s the difference between having a pile of clothes in the “clothes section” of your bedroom floor and having each article of clothing folded and put into the correct drawers or hung neatly on hangers in your closet. It makes your media collection a pleasure to use instead of being a source of simmering frustration or dread.

Who Does This NOT Help?

If your photos are already organized, or you don’t have many (or any), this task will obviously not do much for you. However, you might still use this week as an opportunity to look for any possible improvements you might make, or to consider what you might do if you end up with a larger (or messier) media collection than you have.

Quick Review

For Week 4, your task is to organize something. Choose a small set of photos, such as those from a single day or event. Cull and filter this small media set by removing duplicates and low-quality images, then tag or rate the best pictures to give yourself a minimal final group of the “best” photos from that set.

If you have questions about this task or anything related to digital organization, feel free to reply to this email, and I’ll answer anything I can.

Happy data-taming!

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