It continually fascinates me how things come full circle.
Back in 2011 and 2012 where I was shooting almost exclusively with a Nikon Coolpix – my first “proper” camera – I simply had one folder on my MacBook for all the photos I made each year.
As I got into film and tried more and more different cameras, lenses and films, I found it necessary to catalogue more specifically.
One folder per camera, then within that, a new folder for each roll of film shot, labelled with the date, camera, lens and film.
Uploading to Flickr, I followed a similar pattern, having albums for each camera, lens and film.
Again superseding the “one album per year” approach I’d used previously.
As I was trying out so many different combinations, this was incredibly useful.
Otherwise I could never have kept track with which photography permutation created which photographs. It also helped me determine which kit to keep, and which to sell or donate.
A quick browse in my Flickr now shows around 250 albums created through this approach.
Organised, yes, but it also seems kind of insane to have been flitting about like some crazed lost moth over a sea of candles, never settling on a single flame before being hypnotically drawn to the next, and the next, and the next…
Now, over a hundred cameras and perhaps two hundred lenses later, my judgement criteria are far more straightforward.
For cameras and lenses –
Do I like the camera and lens enough to want to use it again?
If yes, I keep it.
If no, it gets donated or sold.
This has helped me get from, having, at one point, a collection of 50+ cameras, down to a small handful of superheroic companions.
For the final images themselves, the decision is equally fundamental –
Do I feel this is a photograph worth keeping (and sharing) or not?
This dictates my editing process, and whether I save or delete.
And so my need for obsessive organising and labelling has radically reduced.
In fact, since exploring Google Photos, I’m really enjoying getting back to one simple criteria to sort the photographs by – when they were taken.
I’m not about to undo all the layers of cataloguing on my MacBook, or delete all my Flickr albums. It would never be time well spent, and feels far too daunting a task.
But going forward, saving photographs simply by when they were taken (perhaps a folder for each month, or even just one folder per year, as I did seven years ago) is my planned approach.
Another layer of unnecessary complexity removed so I can focus on using the few cameras I have and love using to make the best photographs I can.
And another benefit of moving closer towards cameranogamy, along with not needing to ensure every camera has a fresh/charged battery in case I decide I want to use it, has a strap (I use these lovely Footprint straps on my Ricoh GR and Pentax Q) and not entangled with seven other straps, has the right lens on, and so on and so on.
Wow I’m glad those days are gone.
How do you save and organise your photos? What dictates how you file them?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.