Shoe boxes under the bed are all very well, but digital cameras make it easier to keep your photos better organisedrn

Put your files in order
It is estimated that the average British home has around 1,500 photographs knocking around. It’s a fairly safe assumption that probably less than 10% of these have found their way into a photo album. The rest are squirrelled away in various drawers and cupboards.

Even if they were all in albums it would be difficult, unless you were unusually obsessive about filing, to quickly lay your hand on a specific picture. Should we find that elusive print, and decide that we’d like to make another copy for Auntie Mabel, the next task is to find the negative. Assuming you could find it, you’d then have to hold it up to the window and decide, through squinting eyes, which of the seemingly identical negatives from the sequence is the right one.
Digital photography takes all this hassle out of keeping track of your images, and you can file and organise them for little or no expense. Here are a few tips and suggestions for keeing tabs and putting your files in order…

Ways to keep track
Camera numbering: Every digital photo you take is automatically numbered by the camera. Normally the numbering starts again from 0001 every time you clear your memory card, but with many cameras you can set it up to keep going from where it left off.

The benefit of sequential numbering is that every image you ever take on your camera will have its own unique number, and you won’t have several dozen images on your PC all called 0001 – unless of course you re-format the card in use and start all over again.

Naming files: Adding a name to each of your files either instead of, or preceding, the number makes them easier to identify. You could give them categorising names such as ‘kids’ or ‘Lon’ to denote London. Or add the year, date or time at which it was taken.

Filing on the PC: Once named, you can easily create a set of folders on your PC for each type of picture you capture (one for kids, one for London etc). Naming your folders also makes them searchable, so you can find them easily.

Family album
A huge growth area in recent years has been in software that enables you to file and organise your photographs. These inexpensive programs enable you to create folders – called albums – and to view the contents of each one in thumbnail form in the main window. Clicking on the thumbnails opens up the full screen version.

Most albums use ‘metatags’, that allow you to add searchable keywords to images (these don’t affect the file name). Each image can have several keywords, (eg. ‘kids’, ‘holiday’, ‘Jack’). With most album software you can create slide shows, make prints at home or order them online, and burn CDs.

It’s essential to archive your images to CD on a regular basis or you stand to lose them if your PC goes wrong. The software keeps track of which pictures you’ve copied to CD and reminds you when it’s time to burn the next batch. It will also tell you the name of the CD that the hi-res version of each thumbnail can be found on.