And now, a word from Laura Oles:

We are proud to present the second installment of our monthly series from Laura Oles,author of “Digital Photography for Busy Women”

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Simple Steps to Finding Your Favorite Digital Pictures

“Our digital pictures seem to multiply like rabbits,” Anna sighed, as she searched through her hard drive files for the photo her brother had requested. With the family reunion coming up, relatives were in a frenzy to compile pictures of everyone attending the annual event. Anna’s pictures all had cryptic file names like DSC_4355.jpg, and her chest tightened as she continued to wade through the countless files burdening her hard drive.

“Why did I even keep this one?” she said as she surveyed a blurred image of her son moving at what seemed to be the speed of light. No wonder she couldn’t find that group shot from their Maui vacation last year; the only pictures she could find were poorly lit or ill-framed.
After another twenty minutes, Anna decided it was time to take a break from her picture-finding expedition. Her stroll down memory lane had quickly turned into an aimless meander through mediocre pictures, and she still didn’t have the one she needed.

Think of one of your favorite pictures. If you had to locate it, do you think you could quickly retrieve the image on your computer without breaking a sweat? No? No worries—you’re in good company!
Digital cameras allow us to take more pictures than ever, which means our hard drives are filling up faster than a kindergarten class at a candy factory. If you’re ready to get your pictures in a bit of order, a few steps can help you manage those pictures so that you can quickly locate that favorite shot for your scrapbook project.

Delete First, Download Later:
Whenever possible, make sure to delete the less-than-stellar shots before downloading the files to your computer. There are usually a number of other things going on when we’re in the midst of taking photographs, but whenever possible, scroll through the images as soon as possible and delete the blurry or off-center pictures. By doing this now, you’ll save yourself hard drive space and lots of time later when you start searching through your digital pictures. Save the best and delete the rest.

Managing Your Image:
When it comes to organizing your digital pictures, you’ll find that an image management program can be one of your best time-saving tools. While these programs range from extremely simple to complex and powerful, a little searching will give you several options from which to choose. Many programs will scour your hard drive and automatically organize your digital pictures by date (if your camera date and time settings are correct). This step alone will save you a tremendous amount of time.

Today’s breed of image management programs will also let you mark your favorites so that you can search through a specific list of the cream-of-the-crop photographs. Spending a few minutes marking your favorites will help you keep your most precious moments accessible while giving you an opportunity to relive some of those happy memories in the process.

By being aware of how many pictures you have and taking a couple of steps toward managing your pictures, you’ll spend less time searching for that shot and more time enjoying it!

–Laura Oles is a photo industry journalist and the author of Digital Photography for Busy Women: How to Manage, Protect and Preserve Your Favorite Photos (Compass Trade Press, ISBN 0-9774727-2-8). She offers free information, checklists and tips on her website at www.gotdigitalpictures.com.

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