How to organize and prep your photosf

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blogging tips post, hasn’t it? Well, now I’m back with a new one! Mostly because I needed to write this out for myself and I figured, why not make a blog post of it in case it helps any of you? After years of mess that only I could sort through, I think I’ve found my ridiculous way of organizing my photos!

At some point from when I first started this blog, I got really lazy with how I organized and prepped my photos. It actually made it kind of hard to find things later, and, of course, even trying to go into my hard drives or files has been a total mess. At some point I even stopped trying to label my files and just left them in their IMG format!

The thing is, this is all fine and jolly when you’ve got maybe a year worth of photos to sort through. I could shuffle through my own chaos easily. However, I’m now in Year 5 of blogging and have had to go through multiple tech issues, thus losing a lot of photos and/or money in the process. Currently most of my Vancouver and Oregon photos are being held hostage on a corrupt hard drive, and I keep rediscovering files I thought I’d lost or deleted long ago… At some point, something’s gotta give!

Working for other bloggers and now being in charge of content on both this blog and Hippie in Heels, I’ve devised a new way to completely file and prep my photos so I never have to lose anything in my chaotic filing system again. Enjoy, and I hope this doesn’t make me sound absolutely insane!

A Step by Step Guide on How to Organize Photos for Blogging

Pull Photos from Cameras and iPhone

1. Pull photos from cameras and iPhone

I shoot everything in RAW format on my DSLR, JPG format on my little Olympus, and I recently switched my photo to save as JPG instead of HEIC on my phone. I’ll Airdrop photos from my phone to my laptop and plug in my SD Card to the side before pulling everything to a folder on my desktop.

I’m working on labeling all my folders the same, and it’s like this: Year.Month. Name RAW. For ease, all my unedited photos go under RAW, even if they’re JPG or HEIC.

If it’s a longer trip, I’ll add folders within. In this example, I’m re-editing photos from my trip to Korea last April and am specifically editing photos from a cafe in Seoul called Space Shinsheon. So my folders look like this:

2020.04 Korea RAW -> 2020.03 Seoul RAW -> 2020.03.22 Space Shinseon RAW

Go through and delete

2. Go through and delete unwanted photos

Once I have all my RAW photos organized into folders, I’ll switch to a gallery view so I can see the largest size of my images to decide which ones to keep and which ones to ditch.

I know in the best case scenario, I delete bad photos off my camera or phone right away, but I don’t, so often I have a lot of these huge files that are just the same photo multiple times or some accidental blurry one. Back in the day I’d just dump these on an external hard drive and forget, but that wastes a lot of space fast!

Save RAW to an External Hard Drive

3. Save RAW to an external hard drive

Once I’ve culled all the photos I want to edit, I’ll go and save it to an external hard drive to have a physical copy. External hard drives are just a way of having your photos saved offline. While it’d be great if we could just store them all on our computers, chances are you do NOT have the space for years of huge RAW files.

The industry standard is the orange Lacie hard drive, which I have but mine was somehow faulty and I haven’t had a chance to get it fixed. The one I have with me now is a cheap 1TB Toshiba that has actually lasted quite a while, though now it’s very much on its last leg. I bought it when I had to send in a corrupted external hard drive to retrieve photos after it stopped working. Wound up paying a few hundred dollars *sob*.

Save RAW files to Google Cloud

4. Save RAW to Google Cloud

Next it’s time to save these exact same files to some sort of online cloud source. If you can’t tell from above, my luck with external hard drives is terrible. I’ve had at least 3 just completely go on me out of nowhere, and apparently it’s a thing that these things just give out after a while. Hence why having an online storage is necessary!

After testing out a bunch of different ones, I’ve decided Google Drive is just the easiest since I’m usually working in there anyway. Dropbox’s interface irritates me, and I cannot emphasize how much I hate Adobe Creative Cloud and iCloud. I do use Backblaze to back up my laptop as a whole, but I still prefer Google Drive for additional cloud backup over Backblaze’s cloud service.

GD comes with 15GB free for anyone with a Gmail account, and you get an additional 15GB if you have a G Suite account. From there you can buy 100 GB through 30 TB. Check out the plans here. I say just start out with what you have and buy as you need. You should be able to get away with 100 GB and then 1TB for quite a while.

Warning: It can take a while to upload large RAW files! Best to do it overnight so you can just go to bed and it’s done in the morning.

Edit in Lightroom

5. Edit in Lightroom

Whoo! Now that you’ve made sure everything is backed up, it’s time to edit! I could do a whole separate post about how I’ve learned Lightroom after basically just abusing IG filters for years!

Anyway, I’ll upload all my RAW images to Lightroom and begin to edit way. To make things faster, I have a preset I use for pretty much everything and then I adjust as necessary. Sometimes I barely need to do anything, and other times I need to do major edits (ie my Stockholm palace photos).

Save full size jpeg

6. Save full size jpeg

Once I’ve finished editing, I’ll save everything full size. I guess I could do this a bit smaller but I just like having the full sizes just in case! Make sure the “Resize to Fit” box is left unchecked if you want to do the same.

I also started naming my files using capital letters, underscore, and starting with 01 (got this naming from Alex in Wanderland). So for these Space Shinseon photos, I saved them as SpaceShinseonCafe_01, SpaceShinseonCafe_02, etc. I also save to a new folder system. It’s basically the same names as above, except it’ll say Edited instead of RAW.

7. Delete the RAW files

Now that I have my final edits; I’ll double and triple check that all my RAW files are saved to both Google Drive and my external hard drive. Then I delete them all and empty my trash!

Like I said above, RAW files take up a ton of room, so I don’t like having them on my desktop longer than I need to. In fact, I used to dump them all on a hard drive and then edit using that as my source directly. The problem with that method is currently my Toshiba plug is very sensitive, so often I’ll be in the middle of editing and it’ll disconnect, and then I’ll spend the next hour trying to get it to reconnect it! Also you may be sitting comfortably or in a position where having something extra plugged into your laptop isn’t practical.

Anyway, TL;DR time to delete your RAW files!

Bonus: IF for whatever reason you deleted your files and they didn’t save to your cloud or your hard drive, you can try using Apple’s Time Machine or Recoverit. I had the best success with the latter retrieving files I’d “permanently” deleted from my trash.

Upload to Google Drive

8. Upload to Google Drive

Basically, repeat steps above but save your edited photos to an “edited” folder!

9. Save to external hard drive

Same thing here for extra protection.

Re-upload to Lightroom and save smaller size

10. Re-upload to Lightroom and save smaller size

Of course, if you’re working with a folder of photos all with the same name, you can just save them at 1200 x 1200 px right after you save the large files and before you delete the RAW.

However, sometimes I work with photos that wind up having a bunch of different names (ie Stockholm Palace again…), so it’s just easier to re-upload all those large jpg files into Lightroom and re-export them in the smaller size.

In your export screen, make sure to uncheck the box for “Rename to…” and to check the box for “Resize to Fit…”

Also I now save to a folder on my desktop that’ll say something like “Space Shinseon Compressed.” Within that folder I’ll save them to folder that says “TO COMPRESS.”

11. Delete large files off desktop

Before you do anything else, you can delete your large jpg files off your desktop to keep things organized and, of course, save space! Just remember to double and triple check you’ve saved them to your cloud and hard drive.

Run through tinyjpg

12. Run your TO COMPRESS folder through

So, I was working with Frances at a cafe in HCMC, and she brought up compressing her images so they were teeny tiny before she even bothered uploading them to her website. I’ve vaguely heard about image compression before and even had the WP Smush and EWWW Optimizer plugins for my blog at different points, but I never really thought about it.

Well, don’t be like me. Pagespeed is one of the biggest techy things to worry about on websites, so the lighter your images, the better.

Without getting technical, because I don’t even understand it, your photo files can vary in size. A RAW image, for example, is massive, like 21 MB or something.

Usually, when you get it down to JPG format, it winds up being around 1 MB, give or take. Well, if you compress them, you can get your files down to as low as 100 to 200 KB without a noticeable loss of quality, which is a LOT smaller than how we started out!

So what I do once I’ve resized my images to 1200 x 1200 px is run them through some sort of compression software. After I talked to Frances, I went down a rabbit hole of doing this, and I wound up liking the best. For free, you can upload 20 images at a time and it’ll save it in a zip file. The nice thing is that tinyjpg leaves your file names the same instead of adding something like -compressed.jpg at the end, so it’s one less thing to fix later.

The reason I save the original 1200px photos in a “TO COMPRESS” folder is so I can save the newly compressed images to the main folder and not worry about overlap.

Pro Tip: Sometimes tinyjpg can get fussy and tell you you’ve exceeded your file limit even if you haven’t. I started using it in incognito mode and it goes much more smoothly.

Compress even more

13. Compress even more

While I’m running things through tinyjpg, I’ll go to to further shrink any image already in my compressed folder. Usually, I’ll just pick any images that seem bigger than the others. For these Space Shinseon photos, they all were around 100KB except for a few, so those are the ones I ran through.

I actually love this site the best, and it’s what Frances recommended, but it’s very inefficient to use. You can only do one image at a time AND they add -compressor.jpg at the end, which is a pain to go through and remove if you’re organizing 80+ files at once.

Upload to Blog

14. Upload your photos

Whooo! Now that you’ve made sure you’ve got everything backed up and you’ve gotten your images as light as possible, you can upload them to your website!

Run Robin Optimizer plugin

15. Run the Robin Image Optimizer plugin

This is your one last attempt at compressing! Believe it or not, you can usually still get rid of a few KBs at least. Download a compressor plugin on your site. I downloaded the Robin Image Optimizer one because Silvia said when she hired someone to speed up her site, they downloaded this plugin. I figured if it’s good enough for someone techy like that, it’s good enough for me!

It actually is the best of all the optimizer plugins I’ve tried. And seriously, I’ve tried WP Smush, EWWW Optimizer, and They all take forever and randomly crash or stop. Robin has been the smoothest to use!

Go through and title and alt tag

16. Go through and title and alt tag

Now that all my photos have been compressed as much as possible, I’ll go back to my Media library and start adding text to the Title and Alternative Text boxes. This will make it so much easier to find images later on. I’m currently going back to add them into old photos for this reason!

The alt text line is also what’s used if your image won’t load or if someone with visual handicaps is trying to read your blog.

17. Time to format into your post and delete any photos you won’t need!

Now it’s time to add them into your post itself! Usually, I write or at least outline my posts first and then add in markers where I think I have a photo to go. After I’ve formatted my post, I’ll delete any extra photos I don’t think I’ll ever use.

18. Delete your compressed folder

Once you’re done with formatting your post and have any photos you think you’ll use uploaded to your site, there’s no need to keep them on your desktop. Can you tell I’m all about making space? Delete away!

The best is if later you realize there is a photo you’d like to use, you can just go to your cloud or hard drive and pull a full size version from there.

Boom! There you have it: my absolutely insane way of organizing my photos and prepping them for blog use. Keep in mind, 90% of my photos are NOT organized this way. Until about a month ago I lived in digital filing chaos and have only recently started getting my life together. Now I feel like half my free time is spent retroactively organizing the last 5 years into system like I just laid out!

Do you have any tips for organizing photos? Am I mildly insane? Let me know below!

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