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Wednesday, 06 May 2020


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>>In fact I have no idea if I still possess it. I probably do. But where?

And this extends to the digital arena as well. I always tell folks, Keyword your images when you import them or delete them, because an image without a keyword is almost certainly gone forever. (At least that's true for those of us with massive catalogs.)

A well-organized digital image catalog is a joy to use.

Then I think the Apple baseline Photo apps - both iPhoto and Photos - are for you. These apps work very hard to bring your library of images into some form of organization with no input from you.

Photos will even search for images of particular things. One person on the Apple Communities complained that when they searched the library for "lions", that while a lot of lions came up, it also found a very lion-looking cow.


Some people are never satisfied.

On the other hand -- having boxes of stuff that you don't remember can lead to little jolts of happiness. Or neatess. One of the two. You pick out of box, the contents of which you're not certain, open it, and surprise yourself. Most of the time, since you actually kept the contents, you'll be pleased. I recently consolidated all my stuff in the Big New House after a series of hasty moves. A few days ago, I pulled the top off one of the anonymous brown book-sized moving boxes and I found a collection of photos that actually had been held by my mother before her death. Among the items: a really great B&W of my grandfather as a young soldier at camp in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War in 1898; and a shot of my great-grandfather Sandford holding my father, as a baby, on his lap. Sandford was one of the survivors of the original members of the Union's Iron Brigade of the Civil War (2nd Wisconsin Infantry.) Another showed my father in his WWII uniform, and another of my father with a baseball team he played on in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Another box held nothing but crap from a former bedside nightstand. I saved a couple of items, but the rest went in the trash: neatness accomplished.

Man oh man, can I relate to this blog. When I ran out of space inside the house, "stuff" went to the garage: boxes, file cabinets, plastic bins, and shelves that I built. LPs that were put in the wrong sleeve or CDs in the wrong case is another problem. There is neither rhyme nor reason to the boxes of slides, boxes of prints, or even negatives that are in boxes with only the year written on them. Mea culpa.

"I've frequently had the experience of 'losing' something because it's where it's supposed to be."

Indeed! Happens to me too, and more and more often as I get older (I think I'm about a dozen years ahead of you in that respect, Mike).

And it's more and more often connected to a possibly related experience, namely looking right at something, say on my desk, something I'm actually looking for, and somehow just not seeing it, despite it's being in plain sight right in front of me.

The oddest thing about getting older is that it doesn't stop: I just begin to get myself used to some set of "mild cognitive impairments" — no, I am not even remotely senile, not yet anyway — or other minor disabilities and am learning ways of compensating for them when BAM! a whole new bunch of them comes along!

A friend of mine in her nineties used to say that "getting old is not for the faint of heart."


"Why have all your prints filed in boxes if you never open the boxes to go through them or show them to someone?" When I read that, my reaction was probably the opposite of your intent: it made me ask "why bother making prints if they'll just sit in the box?"

Moving! Decades ago, I ran into a flip phrase, "Five moves is as good as a fire." Proven empirically.

Organization: In the spectrum from no organization to nit-picky detail, I've found my filing system: buckets! Wide hanging folders with enough room to hold a whole lot of somewhat related stuff. If I try for a more granular approach, then my own flip phrase comes into play: "Filed is forgotten."

My ultimate goal, though, is minimalist. Own less, so you can find it easier.

"...it's no good having something if you don't access it occasionally."
I guess that goes for Leica stuff too, huh?

My inventory of slides remain organized but uncurated more than a year into my retirement. I remain hopeful of tackling that project only because financial restraints kept my inventory of images in the thousands.

Oh dear. You just made me think of slides. All those slides I have. It seemed I lost access to a functioning projector, a few years ago. That was okay at the time because I bought a scanner and was going to scan all those slides. But the first few tries were very disappointing. My scans were lousy. My scans of negatives were just fine, for the most part so I skipped the slides; told myself that maybe my scanner wasn't good for slides but, well, it might just be me, not knowing how to get good slide scans from that scanner. So you've done me a good service: you've reminded me that I have some work to do to. Some of my favourite work is on those slides. So that's another thing to keep me occupied during this stay-at-home season.

It isn’t elegant but I put my prints into Print- File 8 1/2 x 11 archival sleeves and then have them in 3 ring binders by subject. Very easy to pull off a shelf and leaf through.

After years of exploring different types of photo albums for prints of family and friends, I've settled on Google Photos as the best option. While prints are tactile and lovely, the physical albums almost never get taken off the shelf and viewed. By scanning in the slides, negatives and prints of the past and posting them up on Google Photos, the prints have been freed from their physical confines and are now easily viewed on tablet, phone or computer. Best of all, I can share them with family and friends. For the first time, I actually look at these photos from time to time because they are so darned accessible. It takes no effort to take out your phone, fire up the app and scan through an old trip or family party. I'll still keep the source material in case better scanning technology comes along, but for now, Google Photos is the best solution.

Well Mike I’m not sure where I fall i your spectrum. Honestly I am pretty organized but not neat. Those are two different things. The worst example of that was a man I worked for for a few days when I was a teenager. He ran a school bus company among other businesses out of a ramshackle house in the country. The living room was his office. All the mail and other paperwork was piled in mounds on the floor. ,But when he needed something he would reach into the pile and pull out what he needed usually on the first try. Organized yes, neat. Hell no.

John Gillooly’s suggestion had me looking around and I ended up ordering these smaller portfolios, same brand. They only hold 48 images, which for me is a plus, and they are cheap, but B & H only sells them in packs of six.


My wife and I have been living in the same house since 1984. I clearly remember a time when it was empty or nearly so. By your definition my wife is a hoarder and being honest, I'm borderline. We are drowning in clutter, the detritus of a busy life.

I have a camera table downstairs, and that's where most of it lives most of the time it's not being used. But the actual camera and the lenses most often used live on the dining room table. Why? It's closest to the front door. Seconds count when the light in the garden is nice.

In the image sense, I have a few prints and they are framed on the wall. There are many electronic prints and I enjoy reviewing them, but it's a pain the butt to find a specific one to show off, even with keywording and star ratings. I have seriously contemplated one of those swiveling frames they used to display posters in.

A buddy of mine who is decluttering suggested a thought process to me. Imagine that everything in your house but for furniture and appliances got moved next door. You can only go next door to get something you are actually going to use. So not the whole set of dishes, just the bowl and spoon you need to have cereal for breakfast. A knife if you slice up a banana on top. They stay in the house. You can wash them or go next door for more. Same with clothes. Same with everything. At the end of the year you go through that other house looking for things that are too precious to lose, and yet somehow didn't make it back into your house. Your mom's wedding dress that you want to inflict on your daughter, for example. Move the cutlery and dishes so you have a set of 6 or 8 or whatever, but not a dozen. If you throw parties for a dozen people you would have done it in a year. Move those things out and then burn that house down. I hope that part is a thought process. I'm glad I don't live next door.

Getting my photo disorganized stuff organized is on my To do List.

I've been making "photo books" using snap fish when they are on sale in the hopes of getting something to survive! Foolish to even worry about it but that and giving away prints seems the only way to have anything last somewhere!

I don't own a printer; if I need a print I order it online. The way I look through my photo archive is to have the images as a screensaver on my Mac. Sometimes, I just watch the randomly-picked images come up and enjoy the memories they bring. I can also do this on my TV via my Apple TV unit. Additionally from time to time I change the lock screen image on my iPhone or iPad with different images for each. The image proportions have to accommodate the iPad's horizontal, or the iPhone's vertical, aspect ratios. I hate seeing badly cropped images on those devices.

In the process of moving from print to digital, upgrading computers, and losing access to file systems (Will I ever get to those floppy discs?), I started backing up to a hard drive. However, the back ups were not done with discretion, and sometimes files were added to or subtracted from folders that were subsequently backed up.
For several weeks, I have been systematically gathering all folders of one image, deleting and condensing everything into one master folder, and all I can say is-
"I'm a mess"!
Most of the time, there are ten folders scattered over two drives, and at least three or four are different from each other. Then there are the duplicate, individual images that were placed in other folder for the purposes of blog. website, competitions, etc..
Often, there are multiple versions of these folders as well.
I am chipping away at it, but it is laborious.

Did you see this recent article about The electric recording company? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/28/arts/music/electric-recording-co-vinyl.html

This is a good segue way into a question for the commentariat: How do you organize your photography files (electronic that is, not negatives neatly put away in notebooks). Which labeling scheme do you use. And if, like me, you have both digital camera fines and scanned negative files, how do you handle that?

Re: "Back in July of 2018, talking about print storage boxes, John Gillooly said:

'My personal experience is that when I use boxes, I seem to never actually open them! The prints seem to go in and never surface again.'"

I used to have the same problem. I literally had boxes and boxes (mostly 8x10 and 11x14 Kodak paper boxes) of prints that I had liked and kept a copy. I never looked at them.

Then I discovered print-on-demand publishing. The quality of the images compares favorably with good offset printing, and I find that if a file produces a paper print that I'm satisfied with, the printed page in the book will be satisfactory also.

I gather photos that I want to print in a file on my computer (after scanning old negatives, slides or, if nothing else, an old print). When I have enough images to make a coherent book, I lay it out and write captions that contain as much information about each print as I can remember.

I upload the finished book and order one proof copy. If any of the book images falls short of expectations, I rework that file, upload the pdf again and order another copy.

That's it. I do not intend to sell the books. I use them strictly to view myself (well, sometimes I order one for a family member).

Because the print-on-demand books are expensive per copy, it forces me to curate the images so I print only the ones I really like. And the books sit on my bookcase where they are readily available if I want to look through them (or find a particular picture to show someone else).

I use Blurb, but there are several other print-on-demand publishers out there.

If you would like to see an example, the following URL should get you to one of the books. You can page through the book, but the type probably will be too small to read.


So loved this. You are channeling Marie Kondo's Tidy Up ideas. If it doesn't spark joy why the heck have it. Makes me rethink some of my collections. Thanks for making me think...!

I searched for the word "compulsion" in this post and I can't find it. Collecting things for enjoyment is one thing. Keeping things because you can't live without them is something different. That has nothing to do with the ability to organize.

[Okay, a slob then. --Mike]

While it’s no panacea, there is a frame, sold in many sizes, on that website named after a rainforest, which lets you rotate pics easily by snapping back the frame’s sides, slipping one pic out and putting another in. Makes it quick and easy. It’s called the SnapeZo.

With well over 1,000 CDs I which got badly jumbled during my house move in 2013, I needed a new way of listening. It took time, but that's something I have plenty of.

First, I ripped them all using dBpoweramp CD Ripper, which not only puts them in a named folder, it identifies the CD and lists the track names, and finds and stores an image of the CD cover. I am impressed.

Then I settled on MusicBee to manage and play my virtual discs. It goes through and scans your music folders, lists them all, displays the cover images and the track names and more besides. It's taken a week or two of massaging and refining, but now I have a very attractive display listing all my music (it's not limited to .wav or .flac) where I can find anything almost instantly.

Likewise all my images are catalogued by ACDSee Ultimate 10. It's harder to find an image if you haven't used a meaningful name, but it's pretty good.

Now to catalogue magazine articles. So often I find good tips in computer magazines, but when I need the tip, it's forgotten. This might take more work, but I've got time.

My advice:
Bin it all

I'm with Huw Morgan, Google Photos solves it for me as well.

And I really like Wes Cosand's "photo monitor" idea too.

I still like to print, but they are "workprints" with a few that make it up to a wall, but I gave up on boxes.

I fall into "Any Filing System is Better than Nothing Just Never Bin It" category and, as a necessary corollary thereto, also into the "Marie Kondo is full of B/S" category. During the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne Oz, my father - who is in his 90s and pretty much self-isolated as high risk - has finally got around to editing home movies from those bits of the disorganised bundles of Super 8 film and loose photos which we managed not to lose when we moved to Oz in the late 60s. Even though there was a lot of lost film and photos (not to mention negs), he's strung together some lovely family movies including bits from his undergraduate years (Ken Burns style from digitised 2 inch Kodak Brownie contact prints), my mother's graduation when they were engaged, bits of their wedding, world travel on ocean liners in the 60s, and their more recent retirement travels. If he hadn't insisted on keeping his "junk" for the last 70 years or so, all these memories would already have been wholly lost. And Yes, after all those decades, his "clutter" has resulted in quite a lot of joy. Take that, Ms Kondo.

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