When traveling and blogging for multiple days at a time, organizing photos and maintaining a workflow day after day can get convoluted and tiresome fast. It has taken me about three years of trial and many errors to get to the point where I’m at now. I’ve been constantly aware of how I am operating and managing logistics, striving to improve.
It is always fascinating to compare processes with other bloggers and photographers. Read through my own setup and let me know how it compares to yours in the comments. I’m looking forward to learning something new by sharing this.
My trips are often one to two weeks at a time, which means I have thousands of photos and videos to organize, in addition to notes, paperwork, and receipts.
Here’s what I do.
Table of Contents
Travel Blogging Equipment
Each trip I take calls for different equipment, but several things are always the same. Variations include lenses for the camera and other camera accessories. Sometimes clothes. Oftentimes coffee.
Computer – one desktop at home and one laptop. The desktop is meant to hold a lot of storage, while the laptop is to maintain the day to day while out and about. Whether you are using the Apple or Windows ecosystem, the methods laid out within are brand agnostic. If you must know, my computers are Macs. The desktop is aging and the plan in the near future is to upgrade and just use a laptop with a snazzy Direct Attached Storage (DAS) to edit photos and video. Consider that my recommendation if you are only working with a laptop.
NVMe Hard Drive – I use the Western Digital Blue 550 SN550. If you’re wondering why I am using this style over an enclosed SSD or other format, it is so I can switch between using this in my external enclosure when traveling to plugging back into my DAS at home. The NVMe is lightning fast and essential for editing the massive amount of photos and videos taken. Also, this methodology allows me to upgrade cards without needing all new hardware.
Phone – Android, Galaxy S9. I would fall under the power user category and need a MicroSD card to hold all the things.
Adobe Lightroom – This is my primary tool to edit RAW photos. I am only using the computer version.
Adobe Photoshop – For more advanced editing and retouching of photos. I am only using the computer version.
Snapseed – For quickly editing photos on my phone.
Snapbridge – Syncs the Nikon camera to my phone’s GPS and time.
GoPro – Connects the GoPro to my phone and shares internets.
Google Drive File Stream – Keeps my Google Drive mounted and attached to my different computers for quick access within the filesystem.
Google Photos – This auto-uploads low-resolution photos to my account. I’m going to have to detail this mindset further below. You might be mad at how I unnecessarily complicated this.
Before I even step out the door, I have several steps in place to help ensure life goes smoothly.
Inland marine insurance. I have an inland marine insurance policy on all of my equipment I could possibly bring with me. This covers theft, loss, fire, water damage, and a few other things worldwide. My cost will probably be different than yours, but I did the math and this is way cheaper than individually covering items with various insurance offerings. You know, that add-on stuff you get offered from various retailers.
Google Drive for Business. With unlimited storage, I can easily sync my photos as I go. There are some limitations, but with my process, I am ensuring I am storing media in the cloud daily in case something happens to my equipment. I can connect to this from either phone or laptop.
My travel photography process begins every evening or night when I turn in for the day. Or sometimes when I take a break in the middle of the day.
- Take out laptop and get connected to internet.
- Import all photos and video from phone, camera, and any other device used to the laptop.
- Organize the imported media into my folder system.
- Upload and sync data to the cloud.
- Delete photos and video from cameras/memory cards when they have finished syncing.
- Delete photos and video from laptop as I approach running out of memory. Usually delete the first couple days by the last few days of a trip. The philosophy is to have things duplicated and backed up as much as reasonably possible.
- Upon returning home, copy everything to my home computer and backup. Remove files from laptop, phone, and clear out memory cards.
Organizing All The Things
There are a couple different aspects of my organization. The primary is digital, followed by secondary organization, physical collateral.
Organizing Data and Digital Content
I have my media organized as follows:
Year > yyyy-mm-event > yyyy-mm-dd-location-eventname-people
I keep main folders for each year, such as 2019, 2018, 2017, and so on. Secondary folders are for multi-day trips or one day events. I used to separate every day, but found for my week or two week long trips, it was getting a bit cumbersome, so I put all those days into one subfolder. An example of an international trip and regular media:
- 2019 > 2019 01 Oaxaca > 2019 01 12 Oacaca City dinner with chef pilar
- 2019 > 2019 01 Oaxaca > 2019 01 13 Oaxaca drive to Puerto Escondido
- 2019 > 2019 01 28 home gardening raised beds
I follow this organization convention on my Google Drive, on my laptop during my travels, and on my home storage. Following the exact same structure lets my copy and sync between devices easily and quickly. I break up and organize based on my needs for the trip or event and the amount of detail will change depending on how many photos and video I’m taking.
As I import all of the media onto my laptop, I’ll create a subfolder for the day or event and put the files in there. Once I have everything copied over onto my laptop, I will upload the entire folder to Google Drive.
At home, I’ve found it’s easier to just copy from Laptop to Computer over the network instead of re-downloading from Google Drive. However, if I’ve had to delete stuff from the laptop to free up space, then I have the GDrive as a backup.
Organizing Physical Content
Physical documents and media are stored together in simple envelopes labeled as:
- MK Library 2019 01 Oaxaca
I’ll throw anything paper in there. Receipts, business cards, plane tickets, flyers, etc. Each folder is placed in a plastic box which is labeled by year. I have each box year stored in the garage, with the present year in my office. I’ll bring an empty envelop in my suitcase with me and fill it as I go, emptying out my pockets and wallet daily.
As you may recall above, I mentioned elaborating on Google Drive and Google Photos.
I currently have multiple Google accounts. We all do it. Don’t judge me. The primary is my personal, which is what I have my phone, apps, etc attached to. I have a secondary, for business/blog only things. This is the one which I’ve upgraded to a paid account, providing unlimited storage.
Google Photos takes every photo on my phone and auto-uploads to the account. Google Photos is tied to my personal, thus I have the free upload size selected, not full resolution. The reason I decided not to go for full resolution and switch to my business account is to help save data and battery. I may reevaluate in the future. As it has been several years, perhaps my battery life would not be impacted as much, but I haven’t measured. Weigh in on the comments. Pun intended.
Google Maps and Google Photos work together to combine things on my Timeline, which allows me to see everywhere I’ve been that day, when, and which photos I took where. This is incredibly helpful when I’m going back over photos and trying to recall specifics or fact check myself. “Oh, this photo was taken at 1:30pm on the 14th, and my Timeline says I was right here then.”
My Nikon camera uses the Snapbridge app to send over jpg versions of each RAW photo to my phone, which then syncs into Google Photos. GoPro does the same thing, although I have to manually connect the two – this certainly uses a ton of battery compared to the Nikon. I usually wait until I’m plugged into a charger before doing this step.
By following the combined processes for my phone, camera[s], and laptop, I have greatly increased the chance I have some sort of copy of my photos somewhere. I try to think of a terrible scenario, where I am robbed or lose or break something during an international trip and how to recover as quickly and seamlessly as possible. I want to be able to run to the store, grab another laptop, or camera, or whatever I need and keep going.
Writing all this out made it seem very complicated and time consuming. In reality, after getting the process down, app preferences set and streamlined, everything goes pretty smoothly. Driving somewhere? Plug things into the car charger and sync up/recharge. Grabbing a bite to eat or a drink? Connect to WiFi and sync some more. Turning in for the night? Go through the entire process and tie up loose ends.
After a week, while taking hundreds of photos per day in a multitude of situations and locations, the photos and video become unwieldy and overwhelming. Daily organization tames the process and makes life so much easier upon returning home.
From recipes using locally sourced ingredients and terroir-centric cooking, craft cocktails, to the latest in tech and home DIY projects, Michael yearns to share his learned and found knowledge of the world.