Organizing Digital Photos: A Picture-Perfect System

Holidays offer plenty of opportunities to capture priceless moments. We asked the HGTV.com Image Team to share their top tips for taking the best pictures and then storing them wisely.
By: Leslie Judson
Similar Topics:
Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-reindeer_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-reindeer_s4x3

Capture a child’s perspective by kneeling down to his or her level. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

The advent of digital imaging changed the world of photography. Digital cameras allow photographers of all skill levels to take more pictures, to edit them, to create digital albums, to print copies with the click of a button and to organize everything on a home computer. Follow these 10 steps to capture and protect memories for generations to come. And don't miss the picture captions for bonus holiday pic tips.

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-girl-tree_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-girl-tree_s4x3

Flash isn’t always necessary. Use existing light to highlight attractive features in your subject. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

1. The best camera is the one you have with you. Keep your camera ready to fire, especially as you meet friends and family for holidays and special events. If carrying your digital camera is not an option, consider upgrading the storage on your cell phone's camera.

2. Invest in two smaller memory cards as opposed to one large one. That way, when a card fails (and eventually, it will) you won't stand to lose as many photos.

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-ornament-tree_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-ornament-tree_s4x3

When chronicling an event with digital pictures, don’t overlook meaningful imagery like this hand-painted ornament. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

3. Delete as you go. Digital photography allows you to take as many pictures as your photo cards will allow. Deleting less desirable shots as you go will give you more room on the photo card and save time when downloading.

4. Move pictures from your photo card to your computer at the end of every day or every time you take pictures. You’ll have a clean memory card for your next photo op, and organizing goes faster when the shots are fresh on your mind.

photo-tips-mhaley-black-cat-in-basket

photo-tips-mhaley-black-cat-in-basket

Red eye can be more prevalent and obvious in pets. Try not to use a flash; use additional light sources in the room. Stand farther away from your subject, and shoot from an angle. Photo by Michele Haley.

5. On your computer, sort your photos in a folder structure that makes sense to you. You could organize by month and year, by family members' names or by event name. A folder named 2009_12_Family translates to December 2009 family pictures, for example.

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-tree_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-tree_s4x3

For low light situations, set up a tripod and try a timed exposure. Your camera’s manual should provide instruction for this technique. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

6. Consider using a photo-management tool like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Apple iPhoto to edit your photos. Learning the basics of photo editing tool is a good idea if you enjoy photography and appreciate the ability to work with your photos, to fix problem areas, resize, manipulate color, pattern, lighting and much more. Take a class to learn how to take advantage of all bell and whistles of a photo program or practice, practice, practice, and teach yourself.

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-gifts-action-shot_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-gifts-action-shot_s4x3

When using flash, try to supplement existing light in the room rather than replacing it. Achieve this balance by adjusting the distance to your subject. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

7. Utilize an online photo-sharing website such as Shutterfly, Flickr or SmugMug. Photo sites are an easy way to share pictures with friends and family; they offer a safe place to move and store pictures when you are away from home, and provide services for creating albums and gifts.

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-dipped-candy_s4x3

Get-Organized-Holidays_photo-tips-szymczak-dipped-candy_s4x3

Use the macro setting on your camera for extreme closeups. On the camera, the symbol for the Macro setting is usually a tulip. Photo by Ed Szymczak.

8. Learn to recognize corrupt files. Preview every image on your computer to confirm that no files are corrupt before reformatting your memory card.

photo-tips-mhaley-black-cat-plays-with-ornament

photo-tips-mhaley-black-cat-plays-with-ornament

During the holidays especially, pets have all sorts of new things to grab their attention. Have a camera ready to capture all of their naughtiness. Photo by Michele Haley.

9. Reformat your memory card from the camera. This simple step makes a big difference in photo organization. Reformatting cards this way maintains the file number sequence established by the camera, so you’ll never have duplicate file/photo names.

Taking a Holiday Photo

Taking a Holiday Photo

Dad takes a picture of his wife, son and daughter by the decorated Christmas tree, with gifts all around.

10. Many photo applications and photo-sharing sites allow users to tag photos with keywords so that you can find photos easier in the future. Also, many online photo-sharing services read these tags and expose them to their own search engines, so that friends and family have help finding photos when they visit your site. Tag as often as time allows.

Next Up

Holiday Organization: Take Back Your Calendar for a More Joyous Season

Professional organizer Vicki Norris shares 5 steps for lessening holiday stress.

Start Organizing by Thinking Small

Tips on how to tackle your next organizing project.

Organize Paperwork With an Action File

HGTV.com shows how to make daily paper management easy with an Action File.

How to Organize Your Move

Moving is one of the most daunting tasks you'll ever have to do, but you can make it easier with these expert tips and solutions.

Organize Your Life

Learn how to live the simple life with our 10 steps to help you get back to basics, from Mission: Organization's Monica Ricci.

Organization Basics

A four-step guide for organizing any room, plus 13 strategies to prevent procrastination.

Tips for Keeping Your Mail Organized

Bills, greeting cards, magazines and other mail can create a paper blizzard if you're not careful. Piles on the desk, kitchen counter or dining room table can lead to lost important documents. But by following these tips, you can keep the stacks at bay.

Start Up Your Organizing Engine

Check out these three tricks for kicking the “I’ll organize it later” habit.

Quick Tips for Home Organization

Try these quick home organization tips for maintaining a clutter-free home from basement to attic.

Guide to Keeping Organized

Learn how to keep your space organized with five key tips from professional organizing experts.

On TV

Flea Market Flip

7:30am | 6:30c

Flea Market Flip

8:30am | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30am | 8:30c

Flea Market Flip

10:30am | 9:30c

Rehab Addict

11am | 10c

Rehab Addict

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
Tonight
Tonight

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

8pm | 7c

Mexico Life

9pm | 8c

Mexico Life

9:30pm | 8:30c

Island Hunters

10:30pm | 9:30c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Mexico Life

12am | 11c

Mexico Life

12:30am | 11:30c

Island Hunters

1:30am | 12:30c

Stories We're Following

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.