If someone had told me this 6 years ago it would have helped save me a lot of time and made my images much easier to find. For your convenience, here are my suggestions on how to organize your growing mountain of disorderly image files residing in “my photos”
getting onto computer:
I only recommend one method of downloading files from the camera (or card) to the computer and that is Downloader Pro. Among other things it reads the EXIF data and puts photos/videos in folders corresponding to date taken. Yes the camera manufacturers software does this too but what if you have more than one camera? Things can get fucked very easily.
You can also run Downloader Pro on HDD files and have it auto sort them into proper folders. This thing saved my butt. You can imagine how many pics are on my computer (600GB) and about a year ago i realized my filing was so willy-nilly i couldnt ever find anything. not a problem now! http://www.breezesys.com/Downloader/index.htm
dealing with duplicates:
Inevitably you get a photo downloaded twice or something like that. I even had entire duplicate folders with different folder names. Duplicate File Detective will take care of this in short order, even if they are different filenames: http://www.duplicate-file-detective.com/
Dealing with inconsistent naming conventions:
File renamer deluxe also saved my butt from having to rename a crap ton of files by hand. It has very powerful (yet easy to use) find and replace functions as well as numbering via EXIF data: http://www.sherrodcomputers.com/products_filerenamer.cfm
editing/organizing/uploading all “my photos”
if you havent tried picassa it is pretty amazing for a free product. it is non destructive so it doesnt alter your photos untill you “export” them for print or upload, etc. Its functions are a bit limited if you want to get super organzed and give all your photos color and star rating labels but it is free and easy to start working with in no time. I also like its photo viewer (replaces windows default picture viewer), which will display RAW files and even photoshop files! EVERY computer should have picassa, I install it on everyone’s computer that I can. Works great for mom and dads.
For advanced editing/cataloging nothing beats lightroom. What you trade off is complexity but you can just use its simple funtions at first. There are a few workflow quirks you need to memorize but if someone just shows them to you they are pretty obvious. Lightroom can easily catalog/sort/rate/label/touch up/export collections of tens of thousands of photos – that is what it was made to do. http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/
Well, there you go, those four programs are pretty much all you need to get your images into a structure that is useful. Hope this helps you organize a growing library of digital images!