Sorting Photographs

I’ve been shooting for nearly a decade, more than half of it as a professional. This means I have over one lakh photographs and several hard drives filled with images. Though I often face the normal photographer quandary of ‘all my photographs are crap’, I’ve rarely been tempted to delete any of them.

I adopted a method of sorting my photographs early in my career. Actually, much before it was a ‘career’. I’ve seen people who dump all their photographs into a single folder, or a few folders and honestly, I get nightmares at that and a strong compulsion to organize it for them.

So I thought I was fairly organized. I could pull out photographs from any given year, and I’ve a photographer’s memory of what photographs were a part of which series.

However, I began the task of backing up my photos yet again (sigh!) and I had to select a whole bunch of photographs for a particular site. This was when I realised that what I thought was ‘sorted’ barely made a dent.

In terms of a commercial photographer, yes, I can easily pull out photographs for reprints according to client requests. But when I’ve to choose photos like on this occasion, the mind refuses to function. My memory does not stretch to include every single image ever shot. It includes only the best images, and a vague contact sheet of the rest of the photographs.

On revisiting these folders, I discovered some gems I had discarded in my naivety! Now you know why we tell you never to delete!

However, this meant, I had to go through every image I had ever shot and select the best. Then the tedious process of tagging, editing etc.

Is there a solution to this? One way is organizing it differently in your back up sets. One drive can contain photographs organized by year and category. The other could be according to theme or category. Lightroom offers a great way to organize but when you shift computers, the library can get massive.

Of course, all those ‘for fun’ projects can be still a task, since these are photos you put away to edit and sort on a quiet day. For now, it is back to the computer


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