If you’re like me, you’re probably doing a lot less travelling these days which makes it’s the ideal time to finally organize your massive collection of travel photos because what’s the use of saving them if you’re never going to look at them again?
These days, most of us take digital photos, post a few to social media and save hundreds, or more likely thousands more, that never see the light of day. Make it your goal to bring those hidden gems to the surface where you can see them again and enjoy memories of your past voyages.
There’s no one way to organize your photo collection, but a good place to start is by taking inventory of where all of your images are stored and work at centralizing disparate folders into a single collection. Once everything is in one place, it’s easier to start deleting the duds and duplicates and go through the hard work of categorizing everything.
Use software to get organized
The key to sorting through your digital photo collection is software. One of the best in this regard is Adobe Lightroom. It’s a fantastic program for editing and correcting photos, but also has built-in tools to organize everything into one easily browsable catalog. The downside to make it fully searchable is that you need to write captions or tag your photos in order to find things quickly.
The learning curve for Lightroom can be steep, so many people opt instead for Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements, a more user-friendly program that makes it easy to not only organize your photo collection, but your videos as well.
Another tool that I use is Google Photos. This free service lets you store as many photos as you want on their cloud servers, although not at full resolution. Where it’s powerful is that you can search your collection by keyword, like you would any Google search, and it will display the most likely photos you’re looking for. I look at the date the photo was taken, then turn to my Lightroom to find the high-resolution version that I need.
Transform your analog photos to digital
If you’ve got travel photos that were taken in the pre-digital age as slides or prints or maybe ones taken by your parents or grandparents, then they’re probably gathering dust in a shoebox somewhere. Digitize them with an affordable scanner in order to bring them back into the light. The Magnasonic All-in-One High Resolution Film Scanner is a good choice as it can not only convert slides and negatives in a variety of formats ranging from 35mm to 126 and 110, but it does it all with a built-in memory of 128 Mb along with a 2.4″ LCD screen where you can preview your scans.
For scanning prints, you may already have a printer with a built-in scanner, but I like to use Google’s free PhotoScan app on my smartphone which is a quick-and-dirty scanner that cleverly takes four photos of a print which is how it reduces any glare from the photo’s glossy surface.
Get your photos framed
Digital photo frames have come a long way since they were first introduced. If you gave up on those first-generation devices with their low-resolution screens and clunky interfaces, then you haven’t been keeping up with the times. Digital photo frames now have screens with incredible clarity and resolution and use internet-connected cloud services from which to draw your images. A great example is the Aura Mason Smart Digital Picture Frame. For what it’s worth, it’s a brand endorsed by Oprah and is a great way to enjoy your photos that would otherwise be forgotten. It’s also a good gift for relatives as you can share photos with them via the internet.
I also like to print out annual photo books with my best photos as they’ll probably survive longer than any digital versions. There are numerous companies that can do it and I haven’t found any substantial difference between them so I just search for whoever’s currently offering savings coupons for their photobooks.
Get backed up
Centralizing all of your digital photos into one place is definitely convenient, but if the hard drive where they are stored has a catastrophic failure or is damaged in a fire or flood, then you’ll lose everything. It’s a good idea to have a backup drive on your home network that has a duplicate copy of all of your photos. A simple external hard drive is good enough for many people, but I use a TerraMaster F2-210 2-Bay NAS device which has space for two hard drives, one of which is a copy of the other so if one fails, the other will survive.
While putting a local backup option in place is good, it’s probably a good idea to pair that with an online storage service. I mentioned Google Photos above. While it has a free option to store unlimited web-resolution photos, they can store all of your images at full resolution, but you’ll pay a monthly fee depending on how much storage space you use. It’s not a lot of money and is a good insurance plan in order to keep your precious memories safe.