It’s 2017, time to clean up all those photo files, and reminisce on favorite photos of 2016.

January – Magnolia sargentiana, (Sargent’s magnolia) flowering deciduous tree in San Francisco Botanical Garden

If you are a photographer, now is the time to put your files in order. It’s winter, you are not shooting much, and spending way too much time indoors – wishing you could be outdoors. So spend a couple hours organizing your files now, in January, and make a habit of doing it every year.

I love being reminded of the past year and projects that captivated my attention. I spent 2 days planning this Moment in Time extraction of a Black Oak tree flowering last February across the street from my house.

Feb. 26: Quercus kelloggii, California native Black Oak, flowering catkins, Rush Creek Open Space; Lat38,7.1112N; Long122,33.7015W; 10:10:41AM; bearing west 253*

Now, let’s plan to organize. First, be sure to backup all your photos.

Maybe you are like me and backup every new shoot before you even open the files.  Or, maybe you are like my friend Gene, (not a photographer) who somehow keeps months of photo on the camera card, then gets a new card.  Even if you did not do it all year, download all of those Flash cards and all the phone photos into their own folder on your computer – somewhere that you can find.

Remember this Tip, Ready for the Unexpected, about being in the right place at the right time?  It is simply filed in my Misc 2016 folder since it was not on amy location or assigned shoot.  It was in my back yard.  Miscellany.

Hummingbird visiting Arbutus menziesii – Pacific madrona, madrone or Arbutus tree flowering

Before you walk away from downloading your photos to a file, be sure to do a very simple description of each folder.  Sure, I could tell you to go in and write a caption on each photo, but I don’t even do that myself.  At least put a basic name to your file “Dogwoods, April”, “Sea Ranch, May”.  It will help enormously when you try to find something later.

California native wildflowers Eschscholzia californica, yellow coastal form of California poppy at The Sea Ranch

A couple of hours spent every January will become one of those little chores you will be glad you did.  Now, those couple of hours organizing may very well become a couple of days reminiscing … but that’s not a bad thing to do on these cold winter days.

Santa Barbara Garden with Aloe and succulents

I use the winter months to finish my post-production and computer work on many of the gardens I shoot for personal projects.  The deadlines and demands of my assignment work too often gets in the way of reviewing some of the most interesting gardens.

Woodland mulched path through naturalistic Virginia garden with spring Rhododendrons; Boninti

It can take me days to finish up a photo shoot.  I review every photo individually, add captions, look up the botanic spellings, and make color corrections before I ever put them into my database and upload them to the galleries.

I know it is unrealistic to ask you to put captions on every photo, but really, now is the time to do what you can.  Every search tool uses text and every word you put into a caption makes it easier to find.

Foggy view of The Mediterranean Garden with Cypress trees; San Francisco Botanical Garden

I always tell students my favorite time in the garden is the early morning light, but if I don’t put the word “morning” into a caption, how am I going to find a photo to illustrate it?

Kona dog in a sun ray of morning light on Cherry Hill walk foggy morning

Of course, for me in my business of licensing photos, I want editors to find my photos, so I do extensive captions before I put them on-line, but do at least give your files a name so your own computer can find them.

John Greenlee’s Pomona garden

Didn’t I once shoot a Honey Locust somewhere on a trip back East?  . . .

Gleditsia triacanthos ‘Imperial’, Honeylocust Tree; Arnold Arboretum

A good caption makes it easy to find.

It can indeed be a tedious process, organizing files, but this time of year it transports me back to glorious days and wonderful gardens – even warm autumn days before our rainy season kicked in.

Sunset Demonstration garden – Cornerstone Gardens, Sonoma. Design Homestead Garden Collective

Many of my favorite moments this year were with my dog, Kona, on our daily walks.  Here we are the day after the election, rededicating ourselves to bringing you beauty.

November 9, photographing California Oaks on Cherry Hill with Kona dog running to play

And here, almost the same spot on Dec. 6, basking in winter light.

Quercus agrifolia, Live Oak Tree in fog on Cherry Hill, Novato with Kona dog

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As you file away those 2016 photos, make your own album of favorites.  You will be glad you did.