I often get questions about how to organize photos. This was always a challenge with film. It is even more of a challenge now with digital. Now we can quickly amass thousands of photos to try to keep track of. So how does one organize all of those photos? Well I am sure there are a lot of different ways to do it, but here is what I have worked out over the years and seems to work really well.
The first thing I do on my hard drive below my pictures folder is to create a folder for each year. So I have a 2011 folder and a 2010 folder and a 2009 folder etc. Obviously then the photos that are taken in a particular year will go below that years master folder. This way if you can remember what year the photos were from then you will know right where to start. It also helps when trying to figure out if that vacation to XXX was in 2008 or 2009. Solves many a family discussion.
Now below the year folder I create folders for each event. I name the folder with the four digit year then the two digit month and the two digit day followed by the name of the event. So it might be like "2011-08-30 Daughters Birthday party" for a folder name. This will make the folders fall in order through the year. And the name helps find the event. I love to use Photoshop Elements to get the photos on the hard drive because I can also tell the program to name each of the photos with the same name as the folder. That way I don't have a bunch of photos just named DSCXXXXX. I am starting to use Aperture to import photos. I am thinking there has to be a way to get that program to do the same, but have not found it yet.
Sometimes you will have an event that spans several days. An example would be summer vacation. So at that point I do a folder in the year that is titled the year and month. So like "2011-08 Summer Vacation" and then below that I would put folders for each special event for the vacation or maybe just put all the photos in that same folder. This is where giving the pictures a common name helps. So you could name the photos in groups like "beach day" and "dinner at Panchos" inside the summer vacation folder. That way it is easy to find the main event and all the photos from that event are all together.
So there is how I organize things. I am sure others have some cool tips too. Feel free to put them in the comments. I look forward to hearing what you all do.