A Good Organizational Strategy is Still the Most Important Starting Point
Some folks may say "I just want to get all my photos scanned first, then I will organize them". That is certainly one option, but having been through that kind of scenario, I will personally tell you that it becomes a much more difficult project to try organizing hundreds or thousands of photos "later".
- It is much easier to create an organizational file folder structure when you can visually see and touch the photo albums, boxes of photos, and such that are right in front of you. What kinds of "photo groups" do you see? How many photos will be contained in each group? Will you need to create a host of subfolders within each photo group? You will probably find out that you have a few photos where they don't fit into any specific group. A "miscellaneous" group is okay for them.
- By visually seeing your photo albums, you can play with a file structure that seems to work the best up front. Create new empty subfolders and move them around on your computer until you find something that allows you to easily find your image files.
- If you “scan then organize” your photos, they will likely be contained in numerous oddly labelled file folders assigned by the scanning software scattered across multiple hard drives, USB flash drives, etc. Each of those file folders will have numerous non-descriptively labelled filenames, like "img001256.jpg". You will be hunting all day long just to remember what all those photo files are.
- Once your file structure is pretty organized, then after a "day" of scanning photos, you will remember what photos were scanned and where they should go. They can be quickly placed into the appropriate folders. You will NOT be able to do this months later after getting all your photos scanned.
Compare the above scenario, scanning THEN organizing, to one where you create your file structure FIRST. At the end of scanning a batch of photos, you then just drag and drop your newly scanned photos right into their appropriate folders in your file structure. Boom…your work is done for that batch. Sarah's birthday party here in this folder, summer vacation in Yellowstone in that one, Halloween activities in this folder, Christmas time in that folder. It is much easier to remember what you have scanned that day and then put those photos away in their organized folders.
Of course, you will want to apply some good descriptive labels for your newly scanned photos. However, even if you can't get to labelling the photos right away, you can still find them … because they have been organized into a file folder structure that is organized!