Making Travel Photos Useful

I’m in the middle of a job that I have a love-hate feeling about – filing the photographs I’ve shot over the past few months. I spent a lot of time travelling this year, and my purchase of a little Fujifilm S1800 point-and-shoot camera back in mid-May has probably increased my always-prolific shooting a bit because it’s so handy.

In any case, just since the 16th of May I’ve shot 8,716 images just on the Fuji (I seldom use my Canon Digital Rebel anymore). After editing, I have just under 8,000 left to sort for later retrieval. I edit quite severely – with rare exceptions, anything that I wouldn’t be pleased to see online gets deleted. When I shoot a series of images of the same scene, I keep the best one or two. I’ve been good about editing and doing a rough sort as I travel, but especially on the last trip to Florida and the Caribbean I got far behind, and that’s the trip I’m working on now.

The “love” part of this job comes from re-living the events that I was capturing on a memory card. I don’t rely just on my memory of what was going on when re-naming images, though, I bring back extensive documentation from my trips. That includes printed material, hand-written notes and photographed signs. The file folder from the last trip is 2 inches thick, so I don’t have to Google very many things 🙂

This morning I’m once again re-naming images – changing a file from “DSCF7707.JPG” to “1467-cownose_rays-atlantis-nassau-7707.jpg”, for example. The “1467” is the image number from this trip/series, the description is searchable, and the “7707” remains as the image number given by the camera. To allow for browsing images rather than searching, this image is in the sub-folder “Nov16-Nassau” which is in the folder “2010Cruises4-5-Noordam-Destiny”. Once the re-naming is complete, the entire trip folder will be moved to an external hard drive. The image below shows a small section of my desktop as it looked a few minutes ago.

While this process is a lot of work, it’s work without which my 50,000 or so photos would be pretty much useless, as finding one would be very similar to finding a needle in a haystack. The way they’re filed now, if I want an image of the Kiskatinaw River Bridge shot in 2003, it can be retrieved in just a few seconds.


Making Travel Photos Useful — 7 Comments

  1. There are some excellent photo management programs out there that allow you to apply tags to the photos (including tags to multiple photos at a time), allowing you to have immensely searchable photos. For example, instead typing or copying and pasting “Atlantis Nassau” into the name for every photo, you could apply “Atlantis” and “Nassau” tags, but also “marine life” “underwater” “diving” “shark” tags and search for any of those to bring up exactly the picture you want.

  2. What you need here is some Adobe Lightroom, or Aperture, or iPhoto! You’ll never touch photoshop (or explorer/finder) again once you start putting your photos in one of these! It’s so much more efficient from import, through sorting, searching & retouching, all the way to exporting. Plus, as Michael mentioned, you can go so much farther in keywording than a couple words in the file name.

  3. I agree about the love-hate re annotating photos. I have a system, too, but I know my next move should be buying a separate hard-drive to store my annotated & organised photos on. I have, though, put them all on itemised CD s as an extra back-up – I have not removed them from my computer hard-drive, though ! 🙂 and I really have to get on to that. However, I am still organising our last three trips properly. I do what you do and make notes and collect as much relevant info’ as I can at the time, and I find that a godsend. Many thanks for posting all your unique photos for we who live in such different places to enjoy and learn from. Happy New Year!

    Marie G.

  4. The problem with software solutions is that they die. I’ve wasted far too many hundred hours inputting data for books and photos in particular only to have the software not progress – it worked just fine in Windows 98, though! When you change the file name, it’s forever.

  5. I use I-Photo and it is a easy way to sort and organize, and of course the external drive.
    It is a evil necessity that takes time away from the camera

  6. I purchased the same Fujifilm S1800 camera that you use but your pictures seem to be much clearer than mine. Do you mind sharing the settings you use? By the way, we cruised to Alaska/Yukon a year and half ago and we followed your guide as we drove from Skagway to Carcross. Since then I’ve followed your blog and have thoroughly enjoyed your postings and photos, especially of your local area. Makes me want to make a return trip! Keep up the good work… Way to go!!

  7. Hi Karen,

    It sounds like you’re not shooting at the highest resolution. On the back of the camera, the tiny button at the lower right controls that. You want “L” Image Size (Large) and “Fine” Image Quality. I use a 4×3 format in the Image Size but that’s a personal choice that doesn’t affect quality.

    And thanks for your comments – I’m pleased to hear that you enjoy my stuff 🙂