Two Reasons Why You’re Failing as the Family Photographer

It’s not difficult to snap a picture. In fact, it’s never been easier. But if you don’t follow a photo library management plan, you’ll quickly be in a world of hurt. I’ve got seven steps that should help make your day…

No matter how hard I try, I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle as the family photographer. Sound familiar? The good news is you’re probably doing just fine taking the pictures.
(I snap a few winners here and there.)

The problem is what comes after…

Sure, you can quickly flip a photo or two out to your world from your smartphone, but if you’re like me, I like to bring my photos home for review, grading and improvements.

I have a five-point numbering system when I go through my pictures in
Adobe Lightroom:

5 = Great
4 = Good
3 = Okay
2 = Not very good
1 = Terrible

I immediately throw the 1’s and 2’s into the trash, because they’re the stinkers. But then I hold onto everything else. But after years of following this practice, I’ve discovered a severe flaw.

Only Keep Your Best Photos
My plan has allowed me to retain pictures that I just don’t need. More importantly, the sheer mass of accumulating photos clogs up my computer’s hard drive, and they simply take too long to catalog.

The 5’s are the only ones I should be focusing on.
(Sometimes, I also highlight a few of the 5’s as ‘extra special’ by making them a ‘pick.’)

If I’ve nailed the shot as a 5, why would I need to save a version of it as a 3 or 4?

New rule:
When you’re done cataloging all of your 5’s, go through everything else with the intent of deleting them. All of them!

Question why you need to save your 3’s and 4’s.
(Really)

There are No Shortcuts
For me, the underlying problem in my faulty photo management process is committing enough time to do the job right.

That means taking the time to correctly ID your 5’s on the first round of review.

And at the back end, you’ve got to do the ‘clean up’ phase and not leave around a lot of useless 3’s and 4’s you’ll never use again.

Because years will go by, and you’ll realize you’re holding onto way too many pictures.
(Like thousands of them)

Sure, I know I’m a big supporter of taking ‘multiple’ shots of a particular moment to ensure you actually get what you want. But that means you need to choose the best one and then delete everything else!

You Must Find the Time
Second new rule:
This all takes discipline and a daily commitment of thirty minutes of digital photo management.

I know that can be hard to fit in to a busy schedule. So I try to carve out the time first thing after I wake up in the morning with my cup of Joe.
(Yes, you probably need to set your alarm earlier to generate these precious minutes. I do.)

Without this regimen, your system will break down in a number of ways:

  • If you don’t share your photos quickly, their value drops off over time.
    (Who wants to see last year’s photos? Your family and friends want yesterday’s pictures!)
  • Your computer’s hard drive will fill up. Or you’ll have to shell out for cloud storage.
  • You’re never going to create those photo books, as that’s usually the last step in a photo organization plan.

Keep It Simple
I just finished up a few days of ‘staycation’ expecting I would be able to catch up on all of this. Guess what?
Not possible.

If you’re months behind, the only solution is to chip away it.

Thirty minutes.
Every day.

Delete all of your 3’s and most of your 4’s.

Remember, you only need a handful of pictures to tell a story.
Less is more.

You’ve just got to take the time to figure out which ones they are…

Time.

Seven Steps to Success
So let’s review my updated rules for effective digital photo library management:

  1. Don’t let your pictures languish on your camera’s memory card or computer.
  2. Stop grading a group of photos on a five-point scale. Find your 5’s. And that’s it. Really everything else should be deleted.
  3. Proceed with the ‘tweaking phase’ to improve your remaining ‘best photos.’
    (Cropping, color balance, exposure)
  4. Then, go find the four or five best 5’s. Those are your ‘uber 5’s.’ Share those. Family and friends rarely want to see more.
  5. Email your photos to your family and friends within the week!
  6. Don’t forget to copy your 5’s into the appropriate ‘theme’ albums or collections you’ve set up.
  7. Commit half an hour every day to your life-long photo management project as the family photographer.

Thirty minutes.
Every day.
Promise me.

Now, promise yourself.

It’s not a snap, but it’s the answer.

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