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I'm in the middle of a job that I have a love-hate feeling about - filing the photographs I've shot over the past few months. I spent a lot of time travelling this year, and my purchase of a little Fujifilm S1800 point-and-shoot camera back in mid-May has probably increased my always-prolific shooting a bit because it's so handy.
In any case, just since the 16th of May I've shot 8,716 images just on the Fuji (I seldom use my Canon Digital Rebel anymore). After editing, I have just under 8,000 left to sort for later retrieval. I edit quite severely - with rare exceptions, anything that I wouldn't be pleased to see online gets deleted. When I shoot a series of images of the same scene, I keep the best one or two. I've been good about editing and doing a rough sort as I travel, but especially on the last trip to Florida and the Caribbean I got far behind, and that's the trip I'm working on now.
The "love" part of this job comes from re-living the events that I was capturing on a memory card. I don't rely just on my memory of what was going on when re-naming images, though, I bring back extensive documentation from my trips. That includes printed material, hand-written notes and photographed signs. The file folder from the last trip is 2 inches thick, so I don't have to Google very many things :)
This morning I'm once again re-naming images - changing a file from "DSCF7707.JPG" to "1467-cownose_rays-atlantis-nassau-7707.jpg", for example. The "1467" is the image number from this trip/series, the description is searchable, and the "7707" remains as the image number given by the camera. To allow for browsing images rather than searching, this image is in the sub-folder "Nov16-Nassau" which is in the folder "2010Cruises4-5-Noordam-Destiny". Once the re-naming is complete, the entire trip folder will be moved to an external hard drive. The image below shows a small section of my desktop as it looked a few minutes ago.
While this process is a lot of work, it's work without which my 50,000 or so photos would be pretty much useless, as finding one would be very similar to finding a needle in a haystack. The way they're filed now, if I want an image of the Kiskatinaw River Bridge shot in 2003, it can be retrieved in just a few seconds.