Mar 112014

picture-workflowDo you have a photo workflow?

What’s that you say?  You don’t work any more?  You’re retired.  You just play and travel.  I hear ya!  We want to erase the word ‘work’ from our vocabulary, but, if you don’t have some kind of process for managing your photos – they’ll just get lost.  We take all these great pictures for a reason: to preserve the memories and to share them.  You can’t do that if you don’t know where they are!  For me, there are 3 reasons to have a workflow;

  1. To make sure I collect all the pictures taken with various cameras.
  2. To winnow them down to just the best, and make sure those best photos are great!  I also want to have some labels, captions, keywords, or filenames on my best photos so I can easily find them.
  3. To share just those best photos, making sure they’re easily accessible to me at any time.

Showing Pictures of Alaska

A couple of weeks ago, we were in a campground with some friends who are planning an RV trip to Alaska this summer.  I told them how I lived in Alaska for many years when I was a kid, and my first RV trip was from Alaska to Guatemala.  I love telling that story of my first RV trip, I like it even better to show pictures!  I was able to grab the smartphone from my pocket and quickly find pictures of that 1962 trip.  How did I do that?  I certainly didn’t take that picture using my phone!  Well, actually I did!  I found an old photo album on the shelf at my Mom’s – it had these Alaska pictures so I took out my phone and snapped pictures of the pictures.  I plan to do a lot more of that.

2014-03-11 10.46.55I take a lot of regular pictures with my phone and I have a process where I import them to my computer and then erase them from my phone.  That way the phone never fills up.  I also use my phone to snap pictures from old photo albums – like the ones from Alaska.  After a little bit of editing in Picasa, they’re looking good and I upload them to Google+ Photos.  At least, that’s what it’s called now.  It used to be called Picasa Web Albums and I’ve been uploaded there for many years.  All my best pictures from the last 10 years are there.  All I need is the Google+ App on my phone, and I can easily pull up any of my photo albums from Google+ Photos.


My Complete (current) Process

I’ve developed my Photo Workflow over the years to match our photo-taking style.  I often revise it to take advantage of new tools that are available as well.  Your system will probably be different.  My goal in detailing my process is to get you to think about it.  Do you have access to all your pictures regardless of what camera took them?  If your computer with pictures on it crashes, do you have those pictures somewhere else – backups?  Can you find a picture from any given event in your life?  If you’re visiting a friend and want to show them pictures of that event, can you?  If you can answer yes to those questions, then you have a good system.  If not, perhaps reading thru my process will give you some ideas.

1. We take pictures with multiple cameras, then collect them all on one computer.  For cameras with SD cards, I import directly from the SD card to the computer.  For cameras from mobile devices, I install Dropbox on each device and set it to automatically synchronize to a ‘camera upload’ folder on my computer – then I move them from the camera upload folder to the My Pictures folder.  Once the pictures are safely on my computer, I erase them from the camera card or phone/tablet.  I normally put pictures into folders by the month they were taken.  Sometimes I find an event deserves it’s own folder.  Each year, I move that year’s folders off my computer and onto a USB External hard drive.  I use Picasa to browse all my pictures.  It can include the folders on the external hard drive , as well as the folders on the computer in its library.  I call this my master library.

2. I recently turned on the new Google+ Auto-Backup feature and set it to automatically copy every photo on my computer’s My Pictures folder.   I use the Standard Size option to reduce the pictures to 2048 pixels so I have unlimited free storage of these backed up pictures.  Realize that, if I have followed my #1 step correctly, this is only backing up my last year’s worth of photos because the others are on an external hard drive.
3. Picasa manages my master library.  I use it to view my pictures, make them look good, add captions, add tags, make collages etc.
4. Also using Picasa, I upload my best pictures to Google+ photo albums, and I share them publicly
5. Once a month / quarter / and year I backup that month/that year to DVD and put those DVDs in a separate location – a family members house.  I may stop doing the monthly or quarterly backups and only backup to disk at the end of each year since Google+ Auto-Backup is already making one backup for me online.
6. Install the Google+ App on all my mobile devices so I can view my entire life on Google+ photo albums from any device.

  8 Responses to “Picasa Tip: Photo Workflow”

  1. Chris–First, thanks to your husband for his help getting me registered the other day. I have many pics in ‘my pics’ folder from over the years–maybe 10,000 or so. I finally developed a system that helps me find almost anything. I group my folders by type of event. I have a folder I named all all. Under that folder I have folders like all birthdays; all RV trips etc. Within those folders I name each event folder using the year and then the event. For example, if I had pic of your birthday party this year, I’d name it 2014chris. Then if I’m looking for your birthday pics, I go to all all, then all birthdays, then 2014chris. It works for me.

    My question is this: it seems Picasa likes to group by date. Now if I had pics of your birthday from 2004, I have to be able to remember the year in order to fine the folder–2004chris. Even allowing for my somewhat advanced age of 66, I very often have no idea of where to look–1998, 2003 etc.

    In ‘my pics’, everything is easy to find for me. I’m not sure how to transfer this workflow to the Picasa structure. What am I missing here?

    By the way, in the two days I’ve been using your tutorials, I have learned quite a lot. Thanks very much for that. I know I have a ways to go, and to that end, I’m trying to do a couple of your tutorials every day. Thanks again.

    John Boubelik

  2. Hello Chris, do I understand correctly that Google Auto-backup basically backups ALL your pictures, even those you delete in the sorting out process? If so, it sounds unnecessary for me, cause if all goes wrong and you need to retrieve the pictures form Auto-back up, you will need to do all the sorting out job again. Why not to link Auto-back up only to a folder where there would be ONLY pictures you want to keep, without the pictures that not pass your sorting out process?

    • You are correct. It backs up everything. BUT, you can specify folders in the options. So, you could bring in all your pictures to a folder called “Inbox” that is somewhere outside of My Pictures. Sort them all out there and move your keepers into My Pictures. Tell Google+ Auto Backup to only backup My Pictures.

  3. I post a lot of pictures to forums. I haven’t been able to figure out how to easily link to photos that I store with Google+ Photos or in the Google auto back ups. PhotoBucket is super brain dead simple to do this with, they even create the [IMG] tag for it, making it one click to copy the code. I’d really love to use Google for this, since that’s where my gazillions of photos are. Any ideas?

    • To link to a photo from Google+ photos just use your browser tools. View the photo, right-click and Copy URL (Chrome) or Properties/copy URL (IE) If you want a thumbnail, right-click on a thumbnail. Bigger photo, view the larger size, then right-click.

  4. You have a valid concern. The more Google puts into Google+ editing I think the possibility exists. Also the updates have virtually stopped. Picasa has been at version 3.9 for over 2 years where there use to be annual upgrades. I am concerned!

  5. Your workflow sounds ideal – I have been trying to settle on something that will achieve all the things you mention.
    My one reservation about committing to what you suggest is doubt about Google’s long-term plans for Picasa – they seem pretty ruthless about changing things to fit with what they want, regardless of users. Who is to say they won’t simply axe Picasa?

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