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Mastering Digital Photo Organizing Part 1: Preserving Information

Introduction

The ability to preserve information in a client’s photo and video collection is essential to mastering digital organizing. Even if your client has not added any metadata or meaningful folder names to their collection (or has but does not want or need to keep it) preserving certain information can help you organize digital collections more accurately, thoroughly, and efficiently.

If a client of yours needs information preserved and understands that the project will take a little bit longer and cost a little bit more, would you be up to the challenge? If you want to be considered a master digital organizer, you must be up to the challenge.

Mastering preservation of information requires knowledge, skill, experience, and the right applications. When removing duplicates, you need to be able to see and compare important information including Snap Date metadata and added metadata, but that information is not visible in all de-duping software. If you can’t see important information, preserving information will be very challenging and time-consuming.

What is Information?

In the context of digital photo and video organizing, information means a few different things, and includes the EXIF metadata added by the capture device, metadata added by your client, folder names, filenames, Album or Collection names, and more.

I use the term ‘meaningful information’ for any information the client has added, as well as any information that may help me organize the collection accurately and thoroughly. For example, a date in a folder name can help me add dates to photos or videos if any files in that folder are Undated.

Not all information a client has added may be truly meaningful to them by the time they seek the help of a photo organizer, so one step in my workflow involves making a list of meaningful folder names and asking the client if any of that information is no longer worth preserving.

Folder Names

Some people put photos and videos in folders and give those folders meaningful names that represent the event, theme, or date of the files inside. Some folder names include dates or include date information. Some folder names consist only of dates. Some folder names may include a combination of different information.

Folder Names Screenshot

Folder Structure

Often, the folder structure, consisting of multiple levels of folders, includes details that add to the information found in folder names. As a result, preserving all or part of the folder structure allows you to preserve more information.

Folder Structure Screenshot

In the Megabyte Method workflow, excess folder levels are removed so that the folder structure can be flattened as much as possible. Sub folders are moved out of parent folders with names that add no value. For example, I would move subfolders out of the folder named ‘Old Photos’ and then delete the ‘Old Photos’ folder.

Excess Folder Level Screenshot

Album / Collection Names

In Apple Photos, Google Photos, Mylio, and other photo applications and services, Albums or Collections can be created to help people find photos or videos from an event or for many other purposes.

If you have a client that has given their Albums or Collections meaningful names, they may want that information preserved. It is possible to preserve that information, but it’s not always easy and often involves using 3rd party solutions.

Google Photos Albums Screenshot

Favorites

Apple Photos, Google photos and other applications/services allow users to mark photos or videos as Favorites.

If you will be exporting from Apple Photos or downloading from Google Photos, and your client wants to be able to find their ‘Favorite’ photos and videos outside of that platform, there are a couple of methods for preserving that information.

I always export from Apple Photos, organize the collection, and then import the collection back into Apple Photos where I can make sure my client’s Favorites are back in the Favorites section.

Filenames

Sometimes people replace the filenames assigned by the capture device with filenames that include meaningful information.

I rename all photos and videos in my client’s collections, so I copy words from meaningful filenames to the Keywords field. Sometimes, long descriptive filenames are best move to the Description field.

Filenames Screenshot

Added Metadata

If a client has taken the time to add IPTC metadata like Keywords, Star Rating, or Descriptions, they are likely to want that information preserved.

Benefits of Preserving Information

I once debated the merits of preserving information with another professional photo organizer. That person said they do not preserve added metadata because there are other ways they can get that information. I disagree with that photo organizer on this topic.

There are many details a client may have added as Keywords, folder names, or filenames that they would not remember otherwise, or the information may have been added by someone else—a deceased relative perhaps—and that information would be irreplaceable.

There have been Undated photos and videos in every collection I have ever organized. Because I preserve information from the folder structure, dates in folder names are preserved also. That date information is invaluable when it’s time to add dates to Undated Photos and videos.

Combining Preserved Information

It’s not unusual to find different information about the same photo in different places. Duplicate photos may be stored in folders with different meaningful names, come from Albums with different meaningful names, or have different keywords.

A few applications with duplicate removal ability allow Keywords and other added metadata from duplicate photos to be merged.

If you use dedicated duplicate removal software, there are techniques for adding information from the duplicate that will be removed to the one that will be kept, and that can be done quickly.

So, if the same photo is in two different folders, one named ‘Mountain Biking’ and the other named ‘Provincial Championships Race’, there is no reason to not preserve the information from both folder names.

Benefits of Preserving Folder Structure

Even if a client has not added meaningful information to folder names, there are benefits to preserving folder structure throughout the organizing process.

For users of Duplicate Cleaner Pro, keeping folder structure intact improves duplicate removal efficiency because of the Scan Criteria and Scan Location options available in that application.

With Duplicate Cleaner Pro, It’s easier to find duplicates with different filenames that are in different folders than it is to find duplicates with different filenames that are in the same folder.

Preserving Information Efficiently

I suspect that some professional photo organizers do not preserve all information because it can add a lot of time to a project, and the client may not be able to afford that additional time.

There are methods and applications that allow information to be preserved very efficiently. 

When you master digital photo organizing, you will be able to deliver expertly organized collections in less time than you currently think is possible.

Want to Learn More?

If you want to master digital photo and video organizing, I hope you’ll consider a Pro Membership when that membership level becomes available later in 2024. Pro Membership articles will include more technical details that those available on Meg’s Bytes.

Another option is to apply for the Megabyte Method Mentorship Program. A start date has not yet been set, but I hope to be ready in March 2024.

Keep your eye on the Courses page too!

© Meg Macintyre, Photo Organizing Stuff

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