Just Trash Your Junk

Perhaps you are one of those amazingly organized people who takes care of everything right  away: your bank account balances, your photos are dated, your house is spotless. If that is you, let me say that I am greatly impressed, especially if you manage to be creative as well.

The rest of us do not manage quite so well. Today, I designed a database in Filemaker Pro called Carol’s images. I am going through my thousands of images, placing a thumbnail in a labeled container (including the photo number my camera provides) and naming the file where the original is housed, in an extra drive purchased for that purpose (it holds a terabyte). At least I don’t have to drive anywhere to store my excess. I hope that didn’t sound judgmental; grateful would be the operative emotion. Anyone who knows me would laugh themselves silly if I became judgmental about how other people handle their junk.

Every image is getting a date, tags, and any other notes that come to mind. I have found myself, lately, in the nonsensical position of knowing that I have a certain image somewhere, but not being able to put my mouse paws on it.

Creating the Filemaker Pro database used up a fair chunk of time. Then I began my mop-up campaign. A few folders hit the trash, but not nearly as many as I hoped. I assure myself that this exercise will get me in touch with my many images, provide me with a sense of what I have (my themes, my interests), and guarantee easy access forever after. I am also attempting to cull mediocre images as I go. That may be a mistake, because it can be ridiculously hard to just trash your junk. I refuse to investigate why that is so. It is quicksand that would engulf me.

Wish me luck. Better yet, have mercy and send me your best organizational tips. I aspire to be one of those highly organized people I mentioned, at least as far as my photo images are concerned, imminently. It shouldn’t take more than a week month year lifetime.


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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12 Responses to Just Trash Your Junk

  1. SusieQ says:

    Doesn’t Picasa do most of this automatically?

    • carolwiebe says:

      The thing is, my photos are only my starting points. I take one photo and make 50 different variations in Photoshop Elements. Then I take several of those and use them in this artwork, that journal, or that paper quilt, etc. I want to know how each of them is used. And, I have a really big file as my original, but have to print it in a smaller version to use somewhere for collage, or as a base, and I want to access to that one as well because I may have to go back and get another copy of that exact size, coloring, and whatever other tweaks I have performed on it.

      It gets complicated, and I am trying to unravel it. Why? Because, like Flora, I remember something I have done and want to use, and it is not readily accessible. Also, even if it is just a photo I want to store, straight from the camera, I still need tags. Otherwise, when I am looking for something that includes lights, purple, shadows, moon ~ I can find it!

  2. Flora says:

    We now have 3 mac computers and they each have a version of our photo collections. So, when I delete a photo from one, it’s in another computer!!!
    I had a ‘vision’ of a painting I wanted to do that would use 3 photos as reference that I took. Yesterday I spent 2 hours looking for them….I found a lot more, and only one of the three.
    It is really tricky.
    My photos are in iphoto and the latest version allows you to ‘see’ them when you are in another program and want to find them.
    Carol, are you talking about your manipulated images and your artwork?
    I’d be interested in knowing what your database organization is like, because I too feel I need a better system.
    The sad part is that I have taken over 20,000 photos in the last 2 years and I don’t have labels for them all. It is really hard to ditch them.
    Good luck!!

  3. Deb Sims says:

    Oh good grief! You two are way too organized for me! I recently switched to a Macbook Pro and brought all of my photos over to iphoto. I had them organized into categories by subject matter and that seems to work for me. Southwest Images & Rocks, Fossils & Petroglyphs, Birds & Wings, Castles & Ruins, Words, Rocks not USA, Textures, Critters, Caves, Flowery things, etc. I make myself put them in the proper folder and label them when I download from my camera or import from another source. I try to be ruthless and trash images that I don’t think I’ll use right away. “Don’t think I”ll use” is the operative phrase there. There are photos I keep that probably look like junk to some people but I see possibilities in them–you understand, my dear artist friends! I am still re-learning Mac and am sure I will find more ways to utilize my iphoto. I’m also learning PhotoShop Elements and keep finding fun things to do there. I think sorting through images is part of the creative process for me. I would like to have a general idea where to find something but I also like the wandering through images–I almost always see something I didn’t think of that is perfect for my project! Ahhhh, the joys of being creative.

  4. Flora says:

    Deb, I love this:
    “I make myself put them in the proper folder and label them when I download from my camera or import from another source. I try to be ruthless and trash images that I don’t think I’ll use right away.”
    Right on!!!!
    Maybe that’s the new year’s resolution. Start labelling every picture I upload AND choose broad categories.
    Carol and I are both librarians, and I can see that you belong in that category too!!!
    Carol: OMG 50 images. Ya, that’s going to take a lot of harddrive space. Carol, I’ve been thinking of working on one theme…..plants and organic and developing a series of maybe 8 using elements and my original painting and then having them printed on canvas.
    I was in a gallery this summer and saw an example of that where the artist had embellished the canvas with paint, thus giving it a bit of a 3 d look. Have you ever had stuff printed on canvas? Can you recommend a place to try??

  5. Tammy Vitale says:

    I tend to take photos in batches. I go through them afterwards and take the best, size and label them. I just keep them in my computer file marded art and they are alphabetized by type, i.e.: torso-“name” or WyldeWoman “color.saying” so they are mostly grouped. The problem comes when I start breaking out series like Sacred which has its own folder and I forget that when I’m browsing in my art photos so then I have to search but I do have a pretty good system that allows me to put my hands on what I want most of the time. I usually keep it all in something I call “photodump” and date so I have all the raw files. If I have to find something in a photodump, that’s a very long process. I keep a backup on an outboard.

    My biggest problem is getting a good picture not filing it for future use. Esp. jewelry. Even with a photo booth set up.

  6. carolwiebe says:

    Tammy, can you give me any quick tips on using a photo booth?

  7. Tammy Vitale says:

    I ordered different cube sizes – they are white and the light shines through them taking away hot spots. It can work, but I haven’t found it easy to get large pieces done – and I don’t have the space to leave it all set up. But there are 3 lamps that I got with it that use special lighting for photography (and I use them as floor lamps – go figure)for colors. I don’t know that I can really give tips as I never felt I got it right. I use the lamps in my hallway where I can hang my larger pieces and photograph them – but it certainly isn’t a professional set up. Works well enough for me. Jewelry on the other hand? Maybe I need a different camera! I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

  8. I have thousands and thousands of photos. My files are all different types. I never seem to get rid of anything because I have no idea when I may need it or one of the layers that are in something that I have used before. I have 3-1T hard drives that are full backing up my stuff. I also use a Mac so I have time machine backups every hour on a 1T drive. I’vs always heard a girl can’t have too much hard drive space:)

    My biggest problem is what I decided to call an image when I altered it. Lately I find myself searching by date, since I can usually remember when I worked on something.

    My organization is insane (like pretty nonexixtent) I get into working and can’t think about the organizing. Here is what I do now to organize a little.

    If I am working on a project, for example writing a workshop. I make a folder that I keep everything I used during that process. Even if I don’t actually use the image in the workshop, it’s in the folder. It may be in other folders also, but at least I can find the file. Also I use Bridge (because I have a Mac) and I can put most any way to sort images and folders and see a picture of what is in a file.

    Oh and I keep all my images in their original file that comes off my digital camera. That means I always have an original image of whatever I have photographed in it’s original file. Plus I have my website files backed up on 3 drives.

    Crazy huh?

  9. Flora says:

    I can’t (but can!) believe the amount of mail this post has received. It totally proves that organizing photos is a universal challenge. After all, the digital camera hasn’t been around that long and none of us ever had the opportunity to collect thousands of images, videos, podcasts before.
    I predict that in future, photo software will include image recognition that will make retrieval easier.
    Cataloguing photos is also subjective. The other day I was going through my photos and I ‘flagged’ some for painting ideas. Last night I wanted to use one as painting inspiration, but when I looked at them, I thought to myself “why on earth would I want to paint from any of these?” That head space was gone and I found instead a photo of a crow I took a couple of weeks ago and painted that. http://floramary.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/p1050025.jpg


  10. carolwiebe says:

    Too funny, Flora! We keep thousands of files forever and then use the latest ones we’ve acquired. It’s a lot like the fabric stash I used to have. There were fabrics that were must haves that languished in a box, until I was sick of looking at them. The newest were the freshest. I think there’s a lesson in there for us, n’est-ce-pas?

    Unfortunately, my experience with a really good printer of images onto canvas is in British Columbia. There are so many online companies who promise to turn your images into wrapped canvases, but they all rely on really excellent photos. That’s always where it breaks down for me.

    Kathyanne, I had such a good laugh reading your organizational system! I do that too–put everything in a folder related to a class, or a quilt I’ve made, or whatever. Which means I end up with a lot of duplicates of my already ridiculously high number of files. It gets a kinda crazy, doesn’t it?

  11. Oh, yeah, you know it- lots of duplicates, It is totally crazy and never stops. I decided this week when I get a new computer ( not soon) I am going to keep the one I have and try to start over on the new one. Then I can link them and see if one could stay neat-lol

    Could you imagine what our studios would look like if we had all these files in the flesh, stored around us- yikes.

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