5 Easy Steps to Organize and Improve your Travel Photos

In BLOG, PHOTOGRAPHY, USEFUL GUIDES by Clelia Mattana10 Comments


Pictures are one of the best souvenirs you can ever take home with you.

When I see a beautiful landscape or an interesting subject , I start shooting like crazy. It’s compulsive, I can’t help it! The result? After 5 months on the road I collected  around 9800 pictures and my computer resembled a battle field.

Today I decided to do something about it. After 5 hours, countless failed attempts, and moments of hysteria, I finally organized all my pictures in super efficient folders. I’m proud to say that I can now find a picture taken 2 years ago in less than 1 minute.



Here are  5 easy steps that will help you to to organize your digital pictures, improve them and create an efficient archive to find them within seconds without losing your sanity. If I managed to do it for almost 10.000 pictures, trust me…YOU CAN DO IT TOO!




Blurry Images goes to the bin!

Blurry Images goes to the bin! Source: Keep Calm And Travel. All Rights Reserved. Meaning: I am the only one allowed to delete it FOREVER!! 🙂

That’s the hardest part of it, at least for me.

I have the habit to take multiple shots with different settings, as a result i have 70 or more pictures with the same subject! I didn’t have the heart to delete them because “you never know”. Oh no brother. You know. You don’t need 20 picture that look exactly the same.

Pick one, max 2 and delete the rest. Just DO IT. Don’t think about it. The blurry ones will never become ” Abstract art” .They are just rubbish 🙂

Important note: Always zoom a picture to make sure it is 100% sharp. Most of the times when we look at them in a small-scale they look perfectly OK. Make sure they really are!



kids in the philippines, manila slums, kids black and white, asian kids, children, filipino kids, filipino children

Portraits – Filipino kids. Source: Keep Calm and Travel. All Rights Reserved.

The 90% of my pictures still had the odd name DSCN_973…whatever. Not good. This step takes a lot of time but is really worth it.

Make sure to give your images a relevant name. If you like me have millions of sunsets shots, don’t just call the picture “Sunset”.Give a more specific detail like”1 Sunset in Sardinia“.

Important note: if you have more than one shot on the same location and subject from different perspectives, make sure to put a progressive number, as the computer will organize them by ascending number once you put them in a folder.

This way, different angles of the same subject will be grouped closed to each other for an easy search.



Example of Before/After Editing using Picasa and Paint

Example of Before/After Editing using Picasa and Paint. Source Keep Calm and Travel. All Rights Reserved

This is the part I enjoy the most. Unfortunately, only a few shots come out “perfect”:Perfect light, perfect colors, perfect angle and so on. Most of the times we need to adjust a few parameters to make the most out of the picture and get close to the scene we saw with our eyes.

There are many valid Editing programs you can use, the choice depends on the level of expertise and the result you want to obtain, the most popular are:


  • PHOTOSHOP: I personally don’t use it, as it is too advanced and I don’t like to change my pictures too much, but it’s obviously one of your best choices if you want endless options. Update: I am starting to experiment with it and it’s not that difficult! phewww..
  • GIMP: Similar to Photoshop, free, and slightly easier to use than Photoshop. I used once to combine 2 shots of the moon, keeping the background AND the moon on focus.
  • PICASA: I love it! Free, easy to use and many standard options to adjust the basics but also add text and more.
  • PAINT: I use it sometimes to add lines, to re-size pictures or add small labels.
  • LIGHTROOM: I’d say this is for beginners and intermediate photographer. I’ve never tried it as I’m now using a mix of Picasa and photoshop.
  • CANVA: This program is awesome to add some original text and shapes to your pictures quickly and easily. I totally recommend it and I don’t know how is it possible that I discovered it just recently!


The basic parameters I change more frequently are:

  • Light/brightness: The perfect balance is difficult to obtain, so I tend to take pictures that are a bit over exposed instead of under exposed so that I can balance it with “add shadow” or “add contrast” in post-production, without losing its sharpness. This also gives brightens up colors, as too much light tend to wash them off. If the picture is too dark, be careful as adding brightness might create too much noise.


  • Cropping: Sometimes getting a detail instead of the full shot is much more powerful (this is why you need to make sure of the sharpness of the picture!)


  • Color temperature/saturation: I personally prefer the more natural effect of balancing the over exposed shot by adding more shadows. I use them only when I want a more “creative” effect.


  • Straighten: there is nothing worst than a good sunset with an oblique horizon line  (unless you want this effect on purpose)


  • Black and White/Sepia: sometimes the no color effect is more powerful. I use it mostly for portraits.


  • Framing: It gives the picture more definition and emphasis (but this depends on the taste).


  • Add a signature or some text: especially for the featured pictures.

That’s about it for the editing part. Nothing too fancy. I don’t like highly processed pictures. My purpose is to enhance the natural beauty of the picture without altering it.

Important note:If the original picture and the Edited version are very different, keep the original AND the edited one.(I always do for Black and Whites and major editing).To avoid confusion, in any folder you will create on step 4, add a sub-folder named “Edited”.




Read my article on how to take amazing sunset pictures

Click here to read the full article on How to take great sunset pictures like this one 😉



Someone once said that a chaotic workplace is the prerogative of a Genius mind.Well,if this is true I must be Fricking Einstein!

How to Organize Folders correctly

How to Organize Folders correctly. Source: Wikimedia creative commons images.

Before starting this part you need to have a “Plan”and ask yourself some questions:


In my case, I tried to keep it  as simple as possible. I created 2 folders:


I then created sub folders for each one.


I created sub-folders for any place I visited, keeping it as general as possible. I went to Sri Lanka, I visited Colombo, Kandy, Galle, and a few other villages. To avoid the “folder-section” I just left a generic “Sri Lanka”.

Why? Too many folders create only more confusion. Unless you have tons of pictures for each destination. In this case, go ahead and create sub-sub-folders.

I don’t do that also because I followed the step 2 religiously, so if I want to find a specific location in the folder Sri Lanka, I simply search the keyword (example: “Kandi”) and the computer shows me all the pictures related. Easy and quick! 🙂


I created various folders with special events/subjects etc. Examples:

  • “Federer and Nadal Match” (where I took something like 1000 pics…what can I say? I’m a Tennis fanatic!)
  • “Funny pictures and collages” (I have so many, including the infamous me and Einstein)
  • “Animal/flowers”
  • “People/Portraits”
  • “Old pics”

Of course, this is my personal preference and it works well for me. That’s why you need to identify your main Categories and Themes and try to keep them the most generic possible. The labels on the pictures will do the rest!



Back up joke! :)

Back up joke! 🙂 Source: ahajokes.com

This is the most important thing you MUST do for your precious pictures! Unfortunately most people tend to forget this simple, yet so important step.Imagine a catastrophic scenario. Your computer crashes and you lose all the pictures you have in it! For me, this is nightmare number one, together with my website crashing (it happened once, WHAT AN AWFUL EXPERIENCE!)

Terrible right? lucky for us, technology can crush you and save you and the same time!




  •  EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE: Copy everything in an external hard disk. Make sure it is big enough to contain all your photos.


  • CLOUD SERVICE: you can upload an unlimited amount of pictures for a ridiculous price, and access them from every computer with an internet connection.Well worth the investment.


  • INTERNET PLATFORMS UPLOAD: Upload them on Pin it, Flickr or your personal website. Or all these options together (at least for the ones you really don’t want to lose)


  • CD’S: Burn a few CD’s with all the pictures and keep it in a safe place. With this method I found pictures from 20 years ago!

If you follow these 5 steps you will have so many benefits: Better pictures, easy access, and safety. What else could you ask?? I must confess it was a hell of a job, but I feel so much better now, and even more productive!


If you are seriously passionate about photography and want to improve without studying boring technical books about Shutter opening, time exposure and such, i strongly recommend a Book for you: Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography Boxed Set, Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4

This is not a sponsored post by any mean. I just LOVED this book. Actually it’s a series of 3 books on tips  and secrets for Photographers or “Wannabe” Photographers. It is so easy to read and it shows you step by step how to take very nice pictures. I consider it my bible in terms of photography!

I hope this guide was useful for you, and if you have any question please leave me a comment or email me!:)

Thank you for reading!


  1. I’m so impressed with your organisation! I have my many, many photos organised into destination folders, but because Im so afraid of losing photos, I often end up copying the contents of a memory card onto my harddrive more than once, so I never know if I should erase folders, just in case there’s some I missed!
    Despite having destination folders, when it comes to finding a particular photo for a blog post, it can be such a challenge to find what I’m looking for! I need to dedicate a full weekend to adding more sub-folders I think!

    1. Christine, I can totally relate!
      Before organizing my pictures this way I was exactly like you.
      What if I delete the pictures and I didn’t copy them? (that’s how you end up having 4/5 copies of each picture!).

      Especially If you have a Mac, the name of the pictures and the folder is essential. I now find everything I need just searching for the name. What a relief! Another tip, when you resize big pictures, always use the word resized when naming it, so you know which one to use 🙂

  2. Eek … I fall down right at Step 1. I’m a hoarder in every sense, physical and digital, and there’s barely a photo I can delete – “what if …”!!! I do back them up though. All of them. The bad ones too. Great post and I really should take some notice of it!

    1. I know Amanda! so difficult to delete them 🙂 but necessary, you’ll feel a lot lighter when u do it 🙂

  3. Nice blog.. informational one with professional look ..

    Must add an ‘alt text’ and title to your picture before publishing it with blog.

  4. Renaming the photos is a really good idea. I tend to sort mine based on country, but if I’m looking through 100s of photos for one in particular, then names like DSCN_886 are pretty useless.

    1. Yes, I think that the renaming part is the most important, but honestly my life savers were the folders. I am now organized so much better! 🙂

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