What is Photo Management and Why Does It Matter?

photo management software

What is Photo Management and Why Does It Matter?

People and organizations spend much more time than they need to find the right photo. It doesn’t have to be this way. A photo management solution can help with this, allowing you to quickly and easily access the exact photos you need, at any given point

With people taking several photos before, during and after each of their daily activities, organizing photos has become a nightmare. Having to scroll through thousands of photos before finding the one you have in mind is never fun.

Photo management is the process of managing, sorting, and organizing digital photos. It’s one of the most important skills to master in today’s digital world - without it, your photo library will quickly fill up with disorganized images that are difficult to find or share.

This guide covers everything you need to know about photo management software so you can take better control of your photos now and in the future. Whether you want help setting up a system for yourself or choosing the right tool to manage photos for someone else, we have all the details right here.

Let’s dive deep into this topic.

What Is Photo Management?

Photo management is the process of managing, sorting, and organizing digital photos. It’s one of the most important skills to master in today’s digital world - without it, your photo library will quickly fill up with disorganized images that are difficult to find or share.

The first step in effective photo management is deciding on a system for storing and backing up your photos. Once you have this down, then comes the fun part – managing your photos from one central location. There are lots of tools that can help you do this - we’ll go over all your options below in more detail.

Even if you don’t manage to get organized right now, at least try to make a plan for how you’re going to handle it later by capturing any ideas or questions that pop up. Not only will having a written list help with the visual aspect of your photo management, but it will also allow you to easily find all the info when you get around to taking action.

Why Photo Management matters

Photo management is an entirely digital process, which makes it easier for anyone to get started. It doesn’t have to cost anything at all – all you need is a computer or smartphone and some free time. The more organized your photos are, the less time you’ll spend trying to find old photos when someone asks for one from your collection.

You might think that being able to easily find and share photos is a luxury, but it can be much more than that. What if you needed to send someone a photo of something like your business card? If your contacts are stored somewhere inaccessible (like on an old computer), then it’s going to be much harder for you to find them when you need them.

You don’t want your photo library to become too large and unwieldy, either. Having difficulty keeping track of all the photos on your device/computer is one thing, but what about when they start taking up physical space? If you want to make sure memories don’t get lost or forgotten, then organizing them right now can help ensure everything goes according to plan.

Photo management isn’t just for photos either - you can use it to organize videos as well. The same principles apply, just with a different application or two and maybe a few extra steps thrown in. Tools like Google Photos or even storage systems like Dropbox will automatically upload any new videos you take, so if you don’t want to spend hours tagging them all individually then using the right tools can make things easier.

Photo management works best when everyone is on board with the system. If one person’s library is messy and disorganized, then it could become increasingly difficult for everyone else who relies on this library to find their files if they ever need them.

What Can You Expect from Photo Management?

Photo management is a personal process, but if you take the right steps then you can expect to take back control of your photo library and share it in a way that feels comfortable for everyone involved. Smartphone photos are great for capturing moments immediately after they happen, but organizing them all afterward can be tricky.

If this all sounds like too much work or if you haven’t even gotten started yet, then you can use online photo management services to help your photos stay safe and organized.

Photo management also gives everyone access to final-quality images without having to download anything or go through any laggy websites. If you want to share photos with others and ensure everyone has the highest quality possible, then it’s best if all parties are on board with the same type of system.

If you are designing your own website, then you’ll easily be able to find the highest-quality image in a few hours, saving you time and energy and allowing you to focus on getting the job done.

There aren’t any limits when it comes to how much storage space you have available with the right system, either. Most modern systems give unlimited storage space for every device that logs in, which means you’ll have access to your photos anywhere you go.

Photo Management: The Basics

Before we can dive into more specifics about photo management tools and techniques, let’s first cover some basic concepts behind effective photo organization software, so you have a baseline understanding.

This is important because even if you don’t feel like you need too much guidance yet (you just want to know which apps are the best.), some of these foundational ideas may be helpful down the line.

The easiest way to explain photo management is with a file folder analogy: Just like you organize your paper files into folders, you should also do the same thing with your digital photos.

Having one folder for each month or year can be a good starting point - it’s easy to copy photos from one folder to another in case you ever want (or need) to reorganize things. If your photo library starts getting too unwieldy and it feels like things are spiraling out of control, then try breaking up files by season or activity to make sure everything is organized in its little corner.

Having a system isn’t just important so you don’t lose track of any memories; sharing them with others is a lot easier when photos are organized on your end, too. If you have to go through a bunch of unrelated files just to find the right ones, then it can be frustrating for anyone trying to follow along.

You’ll also want to make sure that other people know which folder should be used for what - if they aren’t aware of how things work, then their photo management efforts won’t match up with yours and you might inadvertently lose some files in the shuffle.

It may seem counterintuitive at first (after all, nobody wants to feel like someone else is keeping track of them), but communication leads to better teamwork.

How to set up your photo management system

Now that you have a better understanding of what photo management software is and why it’s important, it’s time to set up your system so you can start organizing your photos. You can always tweak things later if they don’t work out, but here are some general steps for getting started.

Step 1: Think through how you want everything to be organized

The first step is going to take the most effort, but making a list of all the criteria for each folder will make the process easier in the future. For example, think about how many years or months into the past you’d like to capture - will everything go back ten years, or are there specific years that were more memorable than others?

You can go even more granular if you want to: Maybe you don’t want just one folder for every year or month, but instead, want specific folders by season or activity. If that sounds like it would fit your needs better, then go ahead and plan out all the different types of folders that will be useful in your system.

After all, organizing is much easier when you know exactly how everything should look before putting any files into place.

Step 2: Sort through every relevant photo on your computer

If you have a lot of images stored locally, then this step will probably take some time. The goal is to create a list of all the images you’ve saved on your computer, and then decide where they should be stored.

How to sort through all your photos

  1. Go through every single image: If any files are unidentifiable or irrelevant (like screenshots, videos, documents, etc.), then make sure those get sorted into a relevant folder so everything else has room to breathe.
  1. Create a separate folder for each year or month: Don’t worry about getting things organized by season or activity just yet; this first step is simply about creating all the folders in which your photos will live. You can always go back and split up by season later if it makes things easier to manage.
  1. Copy photos into their correct folders: Once you’ve got all your folders set up, it’s time to select the images you want to save and then move them over. Make sure you don’t delete anything in the process - if any files don’t fit with your structure, then put them aside somewhere else for now so they don’t get deleted by accident.

Each folder should contain only photos from one year or month to keep things simple and avoid confusion later on. If you have many different types of folders (maybe those “by season” ones we talked about earlier), then add a label to each file name so you can tell at a glance whether it’s the right type of photo.

Step 3: Set up your external hard drive

If you have more than one computer, then now is a good time to start working on backing up your photos. Creating an automated backup process will help protect your photos against any future problems, but for that to work, there needs to be an offline backup somewhere as well.

This means creating some sort of file structure so each file is easily identifiable no matter where it’s stored - and how you go about doing that depends on what kind of device you use for storage.

The best way to organize your files depends on what kind of storage device you use

Cloud-Based Storage (recommended)

If possible, use a cloud service for storing your photos so they can be accessed from anywhere in the world. These servers are great because they allow complete flexibility when it comes to naming and organizing files and setting them up is relatively easy.

Filecamp photo management software

One of the best cloud-based photo management software in this scenario is Filecamp.com. With this software, you'll have access to features such as:

  • Granular access
    This means that you can easily share files with others, but they won't have full access to your entire account. Instead, they'll need to be granted permission before they can view or download anything.
  • Multiple themes
    Filecamp allows you to customize your online storage space so it resembles a personal website. You'll get complete control over the site's appearance and functionality, including the ability to choose from several different themes and add new features.
  • Keywords/Tags
    Filecamp allows you to add tags and keywords directly to your files for easy organization. You can create as many tags as you want, making it simple to find and organize similar types of photos.
  • Pages
    You can build a fancy, custom landing page for your photos complete with photos and descriptions. Other users won't be able to access these pages unless you permit them. This is great if you want to share a few of your favorite images without giving anyone else full access to the rest of your account.
  • Downloads
    If you want to share a photo with someone, then Filecamp makes it easy. All you need to do is click “Download” and your images, professional photos or other brand assets will be ready to share - no attachments or file sending necessary. Photo and video previews are also included so viewers can see exactly what they're downloading.
  • Custom thumbnails
    You can edit thumbnails directly from Filecamp for a quick way to fix up your images. Just upload an image and then drag it onto the thumbnail. No more opening files in separate programs or editing them by hand - it’s all right there at your fingertips.
  • White Label
    This means that you can use your custom domain name (instead of Filecamp’s default one). This is great if you want to ensure that your branding and images are all displayed exactly the way you want. This can also be a great way to offer a digital asset management platform to your clients without having to build your own platform from scratch.
  • Request file links
    If you want someone to get an extra copy of a file, then this feature makes it easy. The link can be easily sent via email or embedded on your website. This is great for making multiple backups or for sharing photos with friends and family.

Tips for managing photos in a digital world

Setting up a photo management software is the first step towards taking control of your digital photos.

However, it's not enough to simply dump all your images onto one storage device - you have to take some time to organize them and set up labels that are relevant to you. Here are some tips for getting started:

1: Do a full backup before starting

Before you begin uploading files or making any changes, make sure to do a backup of your current collection (or at least an important selection). This will allow you to preserve the original versions in case something goes wrong with the new system.

You'll never know when you might need those old copies again. It’s also nice to have backups on hand if anything does happen so that you won’t lose images you love.

2: Organize your photos as soon as possible

The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to properly organize everything. Get started right away so that organizing becomes a natural part of your workflow and doesn't add an extra burden.

The sooner you start, the easier it will be to keep things organized later on. Don't let yourself think "I'll worry about that later" - it's better to spend time now than regret not doing it later.

3: Be realistic in how much time and effort you can put into organizing

Don't try to do too much at once or spread yourself too thin over several days or weeks. It's best to take some time to properly organize your photos before moving on to the next project.

You don't need to spend hours and hours doing this - even having a few moments here and there can make a big difference.

4: Be flexible with how you structure things

The best photo management software will allow you to try different approaches and use what works best for you. Don't force yourself to stick with one system if it's not working or doesn’t suit your taste. It's okay to experiment with various options in the software, until you find something that works well.

Remember: organizing is supposed to be fun, so don't get too stressed out about doing everything exactly right on your first try.

5: Don’t be afraid to delete.

It's nice to have more photos just in case you need them, but they can also clutter up your storage devices and make it difficult to find the ones that you want. Be sure to clean out your image library from time to time so that it doesn't get too big for its good. You don’t need all those old files - just the ones you love.

Why it's important to think of your photos as a library (not random images)

Photo libraries have existed for a long time, and in many ways, they're not much different from your standard bookshelf or CD collection. The main difference is that you’re not storing them on physical items that you have to take care of in person - instead, your photos are stored digitally so that they can be easily shared with others.

So how can you make the most of this digital age while taking advantage of all the efficiency and convenience it provides?

The first step is to stop viewing your photo library as yet another app to use and start thinking of it as a separate set of files that deserve their organizational structure. Instead of organizing photos by date (using default folders like "last year" or "this year") and never changing them, have a dedicated place where you can store files so that they're organized in a more meaningful way. Every digital photo is an opportunity to make your library easier to use in the future.

There are two important aspects of photo organization: metadata and folder structure. Metadata refers to all the extra information associated with each image file, such as dates or names, whereas the folder structure includes how those images are saved on your computer or external device.

Both are equally important when it comes to making sense of your collection - the problem is that too many people overlook one while focusing too much on the other. It's better to start with both and refine things later if needed.

Categories of Photos You'll Organize

What makes sense for you will vary from person to person, but there are four main categories of photos that everyone can use to start:

  • Portraits
  • Screenshots
  • Panoramas/Photomontages
  • Work images

Portraits (family members, pets, friends)

Most people have hundreds of pictures on their devices that fall into this category. Portraits are often captured on special occasions or when something interesting is going on, so they're usually worth keeping.

Give your photos a home where you can easily find them later, and don't be afraid to delete any old duplicate shots that aren't adding anything new to the collection.

Screenshots (websites, apps, games)

Since most users take screenshots for reasons related to work or play, it's better to keep them in a separate folder from other types of images.

This way it's easy to find all the screenshots taken during specific projects or when trying out one particular game/app over others.

Panoramas and Photomontages (landscapes, travel photos)

If you love to take panoramic shots or put together photomontages then it's important to have an easy way to find them.

You may want one folder for all of your landscape/travel photos, with separate sub-folders for each major trip. This makes it much easier when looking back at earlier vacation memories or trying to remember exactly where that awesome skyline shot was taken.

Work images (clients, projects)

Usually your photo library will include more than just a few screenshots and landscapes - it'll also include images from various work projects you've completed over the years. If this is the case, consider separating these into their folder so that you'll have an easy way to find them later on.

How much time should you spend organizing photos?

That's up to you. Organizing files can take as little or as much time as needed.

Some people organize their photos all at once, while others prefer a more gradual approach where they sort through images on an ongoing basis. Either way works fine - the important thing is that your library stays organized and easy to use so you don't have to worry about it in the future.

The future of photo management

Of course, the library you create today will be different from the one you have in 10 years - just like any collection, your photo library is bound to grow and change over time.

In the future, photo management software will likely be based on the same principles that have guided your photo management all along - specifically, you'll continue to have a folder structure and metadata elements that make sense for you.

You'll also be more aware of how different software updates can change the interface or business model of a particular tool, so it’s easier to find tools that do what you need now and in the future.

Why Photo Management Matters Now More Than Ever

The ability to manage, sort, and organize your digital photos is a core technical skill that will serve you well for years to come.

It's easier than ever to fill up a device with photos - no matter how much storage people have on their devices these days, there's still only so much space available.

This is why photo management is such an important skill: without proper organization, your photo library will quickly overflow with disorganized images that are hard to find and share.

By having the right photo management system in place, you'll always have quick and easy access to your favorite photos.

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Adam Enfroy

Adam Enfroy

With over 500,000 monthly readers, Adam Enfroy’s mission is to teach the next generation of online entrepreneurs how to scale their influence at startup speed. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Published August 26, 2021

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