digital scrapbooking organization

Just like any other stuff you have, you’ll be more productive when you organize your photos and digital scrapbook elements.  After reading Ro’s recommendation in Scrapgirl’s 15 Things You NEED to Know to Become a GREAT Digital Scrapbooker when I first started digital scrapping several years ago, I decided to organize by categories. Yes, I <gasp> break apart the beautiful kits when I buy them, and I store the papers in one folder, frames in another, word art in yet another, etc.  As for my photos, I have been renaming them with the date taken and organizing them by date for as long as I have had a digital camera, which is about 8 years. I’m less organized about my scrapbook pages.

When I began using my laptop exclusively, I decided to put all my photos and scrapbooking stuff in the Pictures folder that was already part of the hard drive file system.  Here are some screen shots to show you.  Click on them to see them larger.  In the first shot you can see my Pictures folder has subfolders for Scrapbook Elements, Scrapbook Pages, and 2010 photos.  (I move older items over to my external hard drive because my laptop hard drive isn’t very large.)  Also in this first shot, I’ve clicked on the Scrapbook Elements folder so you can see the subfolders in there: scrapbookdownloads (where I put new things; from there I immediately sort them into the appropriate folders), alphabets, backgrounds (papers), brushes, buttons, copyrights, fonts (I like to keep copies of fonts I chose, so I can back them up easily), frames, graphics, how-to (directions, tutorials), hybrid (I have a few sets intended as paper projects), journaling, kits, layout templates, masks, overlays, paperclips, photo templates, quickpages, ribbons/borders, scraplifts (layouts that have inspired me), staples, stitches, tags, tape, tools/styles, torn/curled paper (I should have set edges), and words (word art).

Next, you can see I have clicked on my “backgrounds green” folder.  You can see I have folders for every color, plus folders for items with multiple colors and design your own products (which come in greyscale and/or layers so they are customizable). I have a folder called “coordinating” where I place previews of paper sets from kits, in case I ever want to see if a particular paper might have a good match in another folder. Finally, “seasonal” is for those papers that are definitely intended for a particular season or holiday, like pages with snowflakes or easter eggs.  I have organized several of the other folders — ribbons, frames, tags, etc — by color this way as well.

My organization system has evolved over time, as I collect more items.  Sometimes I get something new and realize I need to make a new folder to accommodate it.  This is especially true with the graphics and word art folders.  So far I sort graphics into these categories: animals, arrows, autumn, buildings, celebrate, clothing/accessories, dance, easter, fairies, flowers, food, happy, insects, leaves, love, music, nature, patriotic, people, postal, shapes, stars, summer, swirls, tools, toys, transportation, weather, winter and xmas!

A lot of the time, I need a new category when I get a theme based kit.  For example, you see I have dance categories in both graphics and word art folders.  I made those after I bought the Dance collection at Scrapgirls.  Here are the categories of word art I have created up to now: action, activities, autumn, celebrate, computer, dance, describing, family, food, friends, fun, games/sports, growing, happy, hippie, imagination, kids, life, love, memories, music, patriotic, places, quiet, seasons, spring, summer, thanksgiving, time, travel, vacation, vintage, weather, winter, and xmas.  There are a few other folders there of word art from kits that I didn’t want to separate.  It’s amazing I have word art on so many topics, isn’t it?  I ought to use it more often!

So, all of the above showed my digital scrapbooking supplies.  Here are how my pictures look on my laptop at the moment.  On my external hard drive, it’s very similar, but with many more years.  I have folders for several decades before 2000, because I have some scanned photos, and then one folder for each year since then, each with many subfolders.  Long ago I only had subfolders by month.  Now, as you can see here, every day I take photos gets its own subfolder — I let Photoshop Elements uploader create it for me while I’m transferring my pictures from my camera to my laptop — and I take pictures nearly every day!

The photo files themselves are renamed — also part of Photoshop Elements uploader’s task — in this format: YYYY Month DD followed by a numbers beginning with 001.  So the tenth photo I took today would be named 2010 aug 10 010.  Rarely, I add an identifying word in there too, like 2010 aug 10 photosbycaroline 010.

Finally, the third part of this trio — photos, digital designs, and scrapbook pages — is my least organized.  First of all, I’ve been very inconsistent about naming the files.  Sometimes I include a date.  Sometimes I use the title of the page.  Sometimes I name it after the Scrapgirls challenge for which I’m doing the page.  It would be good to stick with a format, as I have with my photos, which I’ve been naming the same way most of this decade (and have gone back and revised the oldest photo file names to match).  But it’s not so easy with scrapbook pages.  I might make a page with last week’s photos today, and then tomorrow I might make a page with photos from 2002.  Another day I might make a page with photos from 2003, 2006, and journaling from my perspective this year!  What date would I put in the file name?  Yes, I could just always use the date I made the scrapbook page, but I’m not likely to be printing them in books in the order I created them, so that doesn’t seem helpful.

A theme approach makes most sense to me for finished scrapbook pages.  On my external hard drive, where most of my finished scrapbook pages are stored, I have subfolders for each person in my family, sibling pages, pages about my relationship with Robert, places we go, things we do, holidays, seasons, and specific projects such as the memorial book for my grandmother and the graduation book for my nephew.  My most used folder with the only scrapbook pages that are consistently named is my Project 365.  I name those files 2010 365 week XX left (and right, or spread, depending on how I scrapped it).  On my laptop, except for my Project 365, all my scrapbook pages are just mixed up in one folder.  At least the filenames for PSD, full res JPEG and web size JPEG are the same for each scrapbook page, so they stay together.

Just recently I decided to only keep about a month’s worth of recent photos and my recent supplies and scrapbook pages on my laptop.   All the rest are on my external hard drive and backed up at Smugmug.  Many are on DVDs as well, but I stopped using DVDs a few years ago.  I don’t trust that they’ll last long enough, and they take up too much space.  Someday I’d like to have a much larger internal hard drive (on a larger laptop) so I can keep most of my files on it and have the external hard drive truly be a back up drive, not just storage.

This system has been working well for me, and I’m content with it.  However, I don’t think I have the best system.  I read of other methods and think those are great ideas too.  For instance, I have come to realize that it’s not really important to sort by color in digital scrapbooking.  It’s so easy to change the color of anything digitally.  I may decide to stop sorting by color someday. I can see advantages to keeping kits together.  It might make scrapping go faster sometimes, to use only items from one kit.  Of course, I can easily gather up the items from any one kit using the search function.  But if they were already together in one folder that would be faster and assure I’m not missing something.  Then again, I doubt I’d often want to be limited to one kit.  And anyway, I’m very interested in customizing the designs to fit my photos, theme, mood, etc.  As I’ve learned more about customizing graphics, I’ve been less interested in buying kits, in fact, choosing design your own customizable graphics and layer styles more often.

I still aspire to do some designing of my own.  Then that area of my files will expand.  Right now I just have one folder called My Designs.  It contains one alpha and a few papers.  With so many choices and things to do, I am indecisive about where to focus.  Being organized is a good start, at least.

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