Week 1 / Project 2

Photography FRESH START

Week 1 / Project 2

Project 2 this week is about getting orgaized. Organzing your photography life so that you can get what you need to when you want to use it. Everything from documenting your gear to organizing your courses and presets and even training videos so you can find them quickly.

If you’ve got extra ideas or things that have helped you out, please feel free to share them in the comments below. 


  1. myk1966

    Now that life has slowed due to ‘social distancing’ I am able to catchup on ‘watching’! Excellent video with fantastic tips that I had never thought of. Thank you, Matt!

  2. Vicki

    Thanks Matt for your recommendations! Also appreciate everyone’s comments! I’m really enjoying the camaraderie of the group. Will do my best to keep up as I travel extensively. Cheers!

  3. Wendy McKinlay

    Thanks Matt, those were great ideas. I am so organized in my everyday life but my photography life is so disorganized. I now have some great ideas to get started with organization.

  4. Cynthia Hollingsworth

    Thanks, Matt. I’m a bit of an organization-detail junky, so your tips resonate with me. I’m also a bit of a geek so I do use electronic systems. My two absolutely favorite apps are Evernote and LastPass. With Evernote, I finally ended up “growing” past the free version, but I use it for work, home, and photography. What works best for me is to use tags extensively and notebooks rarely. On the rare occasions that I type a tag and it doesn’t pull up my resource, as soon as I do finally find it, I add that tag to it because I know that if that was my first thought, then it will be again in the future. By applying tags, I can use the one tool for all the areas of my life and still keep organized. I like the fact that if I add a Word document that I’ve created (for example) to Evernote, and later want to edit it, by opening it from Evernote, the edits I make on my desktop feed right back into the stored Evernote copy when I save and close. Formatting is available although minimal. The Webclipper means that I can find a website and clip either an entire article or just the URL (among other things) right from the website as I’m viewing it and the info stores right into the notebook and with the tags I want to specify.

    As far as LastPass goes, it allows me to keep sensitive and shopping, as well as tutorials and other sites all in one place and not have to remember passwords. The secure notes function allows me to create encrypted notes within LastPass so that I can make notes on sensitive items knowing they are secure.

    Both of these apps are cross-device so that I can create and edit on my workstation (home and work), my iPad, and my phone and the changes are available. I keep both my husband’s and my medical/surgical info and our medication lists as Evernote notes. I can’t tell you how valuable it has been over the years for me to go to, a hospital, for example, and to be able to pull out my phone, pull up the correct note and hand it to an admitting clerk or nurse and just have her copy information down. They often remark how great it is to have current and accurate information available to them that way.

    Not selling either of these, but just sharing how valuable I have found these two apps and how they cover nearly every area you discussed. Works for me.

    • Kathy

      Cynthia, thanks for your ideas, especially on Evernote. I use Evernote and 1Password similarly but you are using them more effectively. I’m going to implement some of your ideas. Thanks!

  5. David Wolfe

    Great advice. I immediately went into Excel and started logs for websites, equipment, and training links. I went so far as to include a link to the site where I purchased training materials, textures, backgrounds, etc. I have a list of websites, then started writing them down in longhand. Although, I like the idea of including an electronic link so I am going back to the electronic tracking.
    All good stuff Matt. Keep up the good work.

  6. Toni Johnson

    Definitely all good advice. Interestingly, we have a similar background in IT; mine in Data Management. So lists are a big part of my life in organizing and focusing. I’ll have to go and organize my training materials better.
    Here is where I have complicated my photography life and have realized for years this is what has been holding me back. I’ve worked and reworked my data management strategy for organizing my photos for easy access to the “special” photos. In 2018, I created a portfolio folder that is also the catalog in Photoshop. I also have a transition folder for all new stuff that needs processing. I don’t want everything in my catalog. So special photos, then go into the portfolio folder/catalog and then get loaded onto my website. At least that is the theory, but it is still too complicated of a process I guess, because things are out of sync. Goal for 2020 – rework the process (again)!

  7. John Walton

    My equipment list is not only for insurance purposes but also serves as an extended packing list. Major items for insurance and then all the little things I need. There’s nothing like going out to shoot, an hour away from home, and your tripod plate is not with your tripod (or camera). I include every item that I would deem necessary (if I were to forget it) from filters and filter adapter rings to extra “AA” batteries, to my sensor cleaning kit…etc.

    Sure, you might just keep everything in your camera bag, but as your gear list grows (and your accessories) you may find yourself having more stuff than your bag will hold. Especially if you like to shoot video as well.

    • Jane Pittenger

      I’ve got my classes all on an external drive successfully but I can’t find a free and user friendly spreadsheet program for pc. Anyone have a suggestion?

      • Barbara

        LibreOffice has a free office suite that is available for PC and Mac and is pretty highly rated. I used it for a few years, but my new computer came with a subscription to Office 365. I may switch back when that runs out. The word processor and spreadsheet work with all office file types, and the “feel” of the program is kind of like Microsoft Office from a couple of generations back. It defaults to its own file format for saving, but you can change that if you want to stay with Office format. I never had a problem opening files I had saved with Microsoft Office programs. They don’t have a mobile app yet, but Google has a web based app that gets good reviews. I haven’t tried that since I didn’t want to be working across the web.

      • June Krisko

        I use Apache Open Office. It’s free and is similar to Microsoft office. It also has a mobile app. You can open MS files and save as MS Office as well.

      • Gina Profitt

        Apple computers come with a program called Numbers that the equivalent of Excel and it’s free.

      • Kara

        Thanks for this question. I was wondering the same thing. I am going to look into the suggestions.

  8. Paula

    Thanks Matt, this was interesting as I already do some of your suggestions but there are areas that I am lacking. This will be my job tomorrow

  9. Virginia Jamieson

    Great ideas! I wholeheartedly concur on the notebook vs. app issue. Also, writing ideas down as they come to you in a standard notebook kept only for the photography business, lets you find it again later when you have time and money to implement it. Thanks for all your efforts here. They are much appreciated!

  10. Larry Recht

    Disclosure: I work in the Software Industry and am a certified geek so take this for what it is worth. I am an amateur photographer at best, not a pro but I do have a lot (30K+) of photos and scanned photos and am pretty organized about what I have edited or not, captions and keywords, sharing on Google/OneDrive/Amazon/SmugMug, etc.

    I use Microsoft OneNote to basically track EVERYTHING in both my work and personal life. The nice thing about OneNote is that:

    1. It is multi-platform (Windows, Mac, Web)
    2. You never have to save – it saves automatically
    3. It has really good search and tagging
    4. It supports all kinds of rich text including tables, images, embedded Spreadsheets, etc.
    5. If you use Outlook too, it is tightly integrated (for example to track tasks such as “Edit the latest Mammoth Ski Photos). Also, you can send emails, tasks and appointments between Outlook and OneNote.
    6. If you use the OneNote Clipper (which I would HIGHLY recommend) to clip Videos, it embeds them in OneNote (and then you can take notes, add check-boxes, etc.). This allows you to organize and search for all of your training stuff like Matt mentions.
    7. You can encrypt sections (if you want for example, if they have passwords, etc.)
    8. It supports Notebooks, Sections, sub-sections and pages within each section so it is super flexible.

    So specifically for Photography, I have:

    1. A software “section” with pages for software (I use On1, PSE, Aurora, etc.) – within each section are pages for tips and tricks, links to videos, interactions with support, etc.
    2. A “Photos to Edit” section – in that for each shoot, I add a row to a table that has the Name, Notes, Link to the original Raw files, link to the edited/shared JPGs, and a number of check-boxes for “edited”, “backed up to iDrive”, Shared to SmugMug, etc.
    3. I haven’t created (but should) a section for GEAR – easily done including the ability to say send your purchase email receipts to OneNote or capture your web search stuff for your next camera.

    Finally, being a software guy, I can’t emphasize how critically important it is to BACKUP multiple ways. Personally, I have copies of my originals (now all Raw) on:

    1. My main hard-drive
    2. A Network Attached Storage (NAS) device
    3. Backed up on iDrive (one of many cloud backup providers) in the Cloud
    4. Burned to CD’s stored in a easily grabbable Notebook in case of fire, etc.

    In addition, I have copies of all of my edited files on:

    1. My main hard drive
    2. Syndicated to all other computers in the house (my Wife’s in the kitchen with a photo screen-saver, my work laptop and a machine in the living room for slide shows)
    3. Backed up (and viewable) to Google Photos, Amazon, OneDrive and SmugMug
    4. Backed up to iDrive/Cloud Backup

    Hope this helps!

  11. Robin K Martin

    Hi All, I still have my spread sheet from the last Fresh Start and it works really well with helping me remember. I also have favorites on YouTube at your suggestion. What I had forgotten was the gear inventory and insurance. So that’s completed (spread sheet anyway) and since I just bought a new camera and printer I’ll be looking into the insurance end.
    My biggest problem is my old camera would default the image date back to the date I bought the camera so it’s difficult now to find things. Also I have trouble in On1 searching by keywords, nothing ever shows up. But I’ve been working on straightening this out one image at a time. Yuck!

  12. James K

    Rather than a spreadsheet I use a password mgr. With that I can create “categories”. I.e. training, sites, etc. For me it’s better and more secure than a spreadsheet. If someone, for example, did fine my user name and PW on a spreadsheet they could not only get in the program but get my account info as well.

    I use an app (MyGearVault) for all my photo and video gear. It stores everything you would need plus I think it can print info for insurance companies.

    Matt – this is great stuff!!

  13. Keith

    MyStuff Pro is a great way to store full info on purchases by category. It accepts pdfs and scans directly, and associates them with the purchases. I back it up to Dropbox each time I update it. Just have to remember to make the entries!

  14. Bob Barr

    Rather than creating spreadsheets, I organize my training and favorites in Firefox’s Bookmarks Toolbar. I have folders set up for all of my interests (photography, finance, history, family, etc.) and additional folders under that level with the bookmarks. I find this very convenient for jump to web pages as opposed to opening another document and clicking on links. To each his own, but you are correct…organization is very important. Fortunately I am OCD in that regard 🙂

  15. paula t van every

    I’m not as organized as some folks here, but do have most of my photography resources on one drive (not where my photos are), accessible on my desktop, with stuff organized in folders: classes I took, classes I taught, portfolio material, tutorials, software and camera manuals, warranties, PS resources like textures and LUTs, stuff for SM posting. My to-do lists and other handwritten materials (notes from video training etc), are in little Walmart notebooks, chronologically. My inventory is in spreadsheet. What I did to make it better this week was cull and organize my browser bookmarks, a chore. Next I’ll attack my mac Notes ap, which is in need of same.

  16. Kay B

    I use a Numbers (Apple) spreadsheet and put a tab for each of the Classes; Presets; Gear – everything is one place.

    I’m stumbling on my iPhone photos – I use the phone for many different things – not just photos – have to sort – any suggestions from anyone?

    Also I didn’t realize I could save the You-Tube Videos – ???

    Thanks for the video and encouragement.

  17. Marty Zechman

    Thanks Matt; A lot to think about. Some I already do, some I’m considering

    • Paul Douglas

      Please let everyone know the importance of a backup for your files. I use an external hard drive which ran about $100 for 5 tb but put off getting a second one and, due to hard drive failure, I lost almost 3 years worth of RAW files. The data could not be retrieved. I am now no longer putting off equipment insurance thanks to you!

  18. Julie Picardi

    Matt, you are in my head! I had to chuckle sometimes during the video b/c it’s like we are sharing telepathy across the miles. Especially about being distracted when picking up my phone or going to my computer and finding a text or email, etc. that needs attention. LOL. An hour later I remember why I started the process in the first place. Old fashioned notepaper is definitely a plus.

    Great tips BTW! Below are some of my organizational tips.

    *I have a dedicated external hard drive which I copy all my downloaded courses for safekeeping.
    *Individual courses which I find on Youtube I bookmark faithfully using folders dedicated to Lightroom, Photoshop or possibly with instructors’ names such as MattK. 😉

    *I use Nikon gear and on their website where you register your warranty when you purchase equipment, they have a “Gear Bag” where one can list every Nikon item they own to include the serial number and place/date of purchase.
    *The insurance company I use to for my photo equipment, Hill and Usher, keeps a spreadsheet that they send to me. If I purchase something new, I update the spreadsheet and return it to them with a current list of equipment. While doing comparison shopping, I found their rates to be less expensive than PPA.

    Thank you again Matt. I’m enjoying the camaraderie this class is providing. 🙂

  19. Jakki Morgan

    Great tips Matt – prompted me to fill in some gaps.

  20. Andy Betts

    I’m pretty good with passwords and bookmarks, the insurance thing is the one I really need to take care of. Rather than a spreadsheet, I use LensTag to keep track of my gear (http://www.lenstag.com). Have it all tracked, just need to get it insured.

    I also need to get my butt in gear with number 4. Time is a massive issue for me.

    • Greg Bracco

      I had all my gear stolen in Aruba 2 years ago. The local police Captain asked me if I had insurance. I didn’t know. So I emailed my agent, yes I had worldwide theft protection. They replaced $22,000 worth of gear. Cameras, lenses, etc. It was included in met homeowners policy.

  21. Mary Campbell

    All are excellent ideas and I will put some of them into practice.
    My problem is that I purchase a lot of training courses, then don’t seem to ever get the time to watch and learn from them. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to hook up my external drive that houses the courses on it to my iPad so I can watch on the iPad and then work alongside on my computer. No luck so far, so if anyone knows how to accomplish this, I would greatly appreciate your guidance.


      Hi Mary,
      If you are using a pc and want to copy to use in an IPad. The easiest way I have found is to get a Omar’s witstick. You can buy on amazon. ( I don’t recommend a different brand. As I have tried some and they didn’t work). Omar’s puts out this little flash drive that has a USB on one side and a LIGHTING adapter on the other end.. I have 2 that are 128 gigabytes each. You need to download their app to your IPad. It is made for transferring or backing up photos and VIDEOS
      Copy the lesson you want to do from your computer
      Plug in the Omar to your iPad and it will ask to connect to the app. You want to transfer from the witstick to your tablet…. pick the videos you want to work on and choose COPY. That will copy them to your camera roll, make a album on your iPad to put them in so you can find them later . If you do not have much memory in your tablet you may have to delete them to add more, but as long as you choose COPY on the witstick , and not MOVE, they will still be on the Omar flash drive for future use
      Hope this helps

  22. Mary Murphy

    Great idea. One that you forgot! Classes you have bought. I am notorious for buying a class and forgetting about it or downloading it and not remembering it. So I did a sheet called “Cool classes I Own” and I put several of yours in there that I still have not watched:(. That will be later this weekend. Thanks for being a wonderful teacher.

  23. Silvina

    Great tips here!
    I have a little notebook I use as a Bullet Journal where I put everything I need to do in a simple way as you shared.
    I have a paper with all my passwords but it’s a good idea to have them in the computer, except from the bank of course, and a password could be use in that document too. So you need to remember only one password. lol!
    I have my youtube videos in lists. And I have all my photography trainning and some interesting reading material in a folder.
    I’m gonna do the list for websites.
    I have some other interesting tips from the comments below.
    Happy Friday from Buenos Aires, Argentina

  24. Paul Sarisky

    Using a notebook to write down short term goals is the way to go. Barbara Oakley (author of ‘Learning How to Learn’ on Coursera) suggests that you write down what you want to accomplish tomorrow before going to bed. Overnight your sub-conscious kicks in and you get a motivational boost to achieve your goals. A simple but easy way to stay on track.

  25. Gary Gibas

    I have a spreadsheet for my hobby websites, and I have a document of all of my photo equipment. They are in a specific folder on my computer, which is backed up locally and offsite(cloud). I need to take photos of my gear with serial numbers. Items 1 & 4 are where I have work to do. I don’t have my training materials, presets, and plugins documented or organized. I’m positive I’ll find some training that I’ve forgotten that I had. Goal planning will be the hardest for me. I’ll take a look at some of the things others are using and try some of them to see if any of them work for me.

  26. Harald Koch

    because I’ m on the right track this week, as I did the assignments last year, I’ m bored…
    So I had the idea to create a website, where those who feel like it, can fill in their name, place of residence, country and the link to the website and we all can stay in contact.
    Just an idea!!

    For example, I am planning a trip to Florida next year and through the website I could find someone who lives there.
    He could then give me tips on what to photograph.

    Don’t be surprised, Peter Schmitt is my Online-Avatar, he registers where I don’t want to register with my own name!
    And now he has his own website 🙂 Here it is:


    If you want to be on the site to stay in contact, please use “Contact” to send me an email with the data that should be on the site.

    • Guido

      Are you living is the 404 world, surrounded by Polar bears?

      • Guido

        My strategy for gear is to scan the purchase document and keep that scan in my backup strategy.
        It tells me what, the Serial number (very often) When bought and from whom. And as soon as need something, they ask for the invoice. Those chemical papers have evaporated by then, but my scan is readable. Nonetheless, I’ll make the lists as suggested.

        I also like the playlists on YouTube, I will look into that.

  27. David

    I use Moleskin’s (paper) Weekly Planner for the same reason : distraction free place for ideas, thoughts, goals and diary. Much more rewarding than screen based tools.

  28. Barry Ritter

    A few items:
    – Some homeowner insurance policies cover home contents, but for a few dollars more, you can get specific insurance for replacement value for cameras and computers.

    – I take pictures with my phone of all the cameras and computers with their serial numbers. Then I have documented proof. I keep it in a freebie cloud so it becomes available wherever I am should I need it.

    – I bookmark videos and other online items, then use a file system with dropdowns to find items. I change the name to something I can easily identify with.

    – I create all sorts of lists using an app called AnyList that syncs with phones, desktops and laptops, so one set of lists wherever I am.

    – I also use Google Keep and/or One Note to keep notes about all sorts of things, also the convenience of one system across all devices.

  29. Rick Decorie

    Great information in this video. I already have my passwords saved, but I did create the other documents you mentioned. Thanks for the tips.

  30. Marilyn Martin

    Thanks Matt. Great pointers as always! I’m on a MAC, and I use “Home Inventory” to record all things of value, including my photography equipment. It has a mobile app that sync’s with the database on the MAC. Very easy to use. You can also specify where the item resides.
    I have to add that, after last year’s Fresh Start, I moved all my downloaded training and presets onto an external drive, which is backed up regularly. Made it so much easier to find what I need. I actually discovered things I forgot I had, and it enabled me to cull those that no longer had value to me personally or was outdated. I immediately put new items onto that drive.
    I got away from using the notebook to write down intended “to do’s” each day, so thanks for reviewing that again! It does make a huge difference in being productive and accomplishing the photography-related activities each week.

  31. art

    Love the idea of organizing photography equipment, training and Notes.
    Have you ever looked at Microsofts ONENOTE NoteBook Program? It is a great place to put all the items you covered hear into one place, and it is automatically backed up to the internet and available from Computers, smart phones, and from any web browser.

    I created a notebook for training and put tabs for training vendors such as MattK, Kelbyone, Youtube, Misc; then I create a tab for Traiing TODO and put a table in the tab that does the same thing as your spreadsheet. In the Vendor tabs I create lists of all the packages I have purchased and a list of those I want to purchase in the future.

    The nice thing with OneNote is I can also create a tab under Youtube where I can use the OneNote clipper on browsers to save video links and articles to OneNote cust by clipping them.

    I also create a NoteBook for Equipment and then creaate a Tab for equipment inventory to list all my equipment and important information. I then create tabs for different equipment vendors where I can keep a list of possible equipment that I may be interested in purchasing in the futre and reviews about equipment that I may want to refer to latter. Here again I can use the OneNote CLipper to clip full articles from browsers where I can highlight and make notes on things about the equipment.

    I also create a Notebook for Shooting tips and put in tabs for different shoot topics like landscape, portrait, composition, star shooting, macro shooting ; and then use the OneNote clipper to clip information that i find usefull for each of those subjects.

    This allows me to keep all my photography info in one place that can be accessed from any of my devices at anytime and from anywhere.

    I look forward to your next video.

    • Terrie

      I imagine I could use Evernote in a similar way — I’m definitely underutilizing that program!

      • Andreas Hitzig

        If you’re on a Mac you can do the same tasks with Apple’s preinstalled app Notes. I moved from Evernote to OneNote and since about 18 month now Notes. Works like a charm for me.

  32. Martin Z Hull

    Insurance always bothers me because I do insure a majority of my camera equipment. I seemed to have acquired too much gear and so my no deductible personal item insurance based on replacement value is currently at $30 a month. My insurance agent even asks me if I’m making money using this equipment – I’m not but if I did then I would not qualify for the insurance. I think I’m going to need to cut back on my gear in order to get the insurance lower. And maybe switch to a rider with a deductible.

    • Terrie

      Because I scuba dive, I’m able to insure all my photography equipment with a company affiliated with the Divers Alert Network group. The premium is high because I have lots of stuff, but they’ve paid out on the two claims I’ve made over the years — both times when I’ve dropped cameras. Each payout was equal to that year’s premium. In other words, I think it’s worth it.

  33. Jim Maire

    For training videos I bookmark the site by photographers name (in a folder) then rename each one so I can find it easily. My gear is insured and most insurance companies can do it as a rider on your policy, its not pricey. I also have photos of all of my gear. My photos are on an external two bay drive that is mirrored so if one drives dies I still have all of my photos. That drive is backed up to another drive with Carbon Copy Cloner automatically every time I add to it or make edits. It also backs up my Lr catalog (oh the horror of having my photos without the catalog). About every two months it’s all backed up to another drive and stored at a friends house. Lightroom is organized by year and then subject and I also use keywords that make finding images easy. I used to make fun of my wife for using yellow pads but even though I use my computer to schedule my day when something just has to get done it my trusty yellow pad to the rescue. You’re right Matt, even though everything is synced to my phone and computer distractions get me every time.

  34. Brenda Cyr

    Hi- I just wanted to say, after last years Fresh Start, I organized all my courses, and articles. It was great to be able to easily find them when I wanted them. I was recovering from an illness most of the year, so didn’t get out to shoot much, but I had all my training materials handy, and managed to get thru things that I had forgotten I even had. It is well worth the little bit of time it takes to get everything together in one spot, and be able to find them any time you want. Thanks Matt!

  35. Bert Jenkins

    I am so unhip. All training material gets printed and put in 3-ring binders, along with my notes. Notes on short videos associated with (eg Matt’s) periodic e-mails go in another, with one page of Matt’s covering e-mail, showing the date so I can locate them later. Electronic material is saved in folder structures and backed up.

    I do however like the idea of a list of photo gear.

  36. Bill Reeves

    My name is Bill R and I’m addicted to planners. That said, Matt’s simple approach makes a lot of sense.

    On another topic I’d like to share an experience I had with a dedicated, portable hard drive. I labeled it with one of those plastic labeling machines. For whatever reason I tore the label off. The drive never worked again and I was unable to recover the data. I concluded, for right or wrong, that tearing off the label created static electricity that trashed the drive. Can’t prove it, but thought I’d share it for what it’s worth.

  37. Daniel Douglas

    Good information. I am more of a use technology person and learned to manage the distractions by turning off notifications, etc. when I need to get stuff done. I use Office 365 for a lot of things; my planner, storage of downloads, presets, etc. in OneDrive because I have 5TB of storage and I am a big fan of OneNote. In OneNote, if I go to a website and read the information or anything, I have an extension in FireFox (it’s available for free for other browsers) and I click that button and “clip” it directly into OneNote. Everything is in one place. I need to catalog all of my gear though. That’s one thing I haven’t done.

  38. Kathy Snow

    Great tips! I find that using Pinterest to save articles and videos is very handy. I have “boards” for numerous photography and editing subjects.

  39. Cynthia O'Connell

    I keep a spreadsheet for all my gear. It has a tab for each type, as I keep some different info for each. My tabs include: Cameras, Lenses, Extension Tubes, Hoods, Filters, Tripods, Lighting, Cables, Other, and Software.

    I keep a hierarchical set of bookmarks in my browser for websites and YouTube videos I find useful.

    All my online passwords are stored in an encrypted USB thumb drive (with backup somewhere else).

    I didn’t know about the YouTube organizational features. I’ll check them out; thanks!

  40. Glenn

    I use Apple Notes to keep a list of my photo equipment, its on the cloud so I can access it wherever I am if need be. It’s also listed on the Nikon NPS page and on my insurance carrier’s Valuable Property list since I keep it all insured. I have a spreadsheet for checking off packing my gear when I go on my international journeys, easy way to make sure I don’t forget something when I’m standing on a mountain somewhere.

    My training videos, including those I keep purchasing from Matt:-), are in a folder on my iMac (backed up multiple ways) but I also keep select ones in a Dropbox folder, again so I can get to them where ever I might be.

    I organize my images in Lightroom first by years (the catalogs) then in primary folders of Family, Projects, and Travel with specific events in folders below under each of those. Photos I like are flagged, final edits of those are further colored red. I have so many of my grandkids I developed a folder naming convention of year/month/event to make them easier to find specific ones. I create a new catalog when I have between 9-10,000 images for no other reason than that seemed like a reasonable size. I used to use keywords, but found with my folder structure I could find what I needed.

    These are all continually stored and backed up on Drobo and BackBlaze, then Carbon Copy Cloned on a separate external drives once a quarter that I keep offsite.

    Many ways to do things, but this works for me

  41. Shelley

    Great advise Matt. Really appreciate it and will incorporate some of into my organizing.

  42. Judy Murphy

    Great discussion you’ve got going here Matt! Thanks for helping me organize.
    There’s an app called My Gear Vault that I’ve been using for a while & really like. You take photos of your gear, note serial #, sales receipt, even assign it to a kit such as wedding, sports, travel, etc. Simple & easy.

    • Terrie

      Thanks for the tip re: My Gear Vault. I will check it out!

  43. Bob Browning

    Thanks, Matt! This has really inspired me. I will be organized this year!!

  44. Sherry L.

    I keep a folder in the “finder” library called “Photography” which is actually in the documents folder. It contains all of the courses that I’ve purchased for Lr and Ps from various sites/photographers like yours. Also in that folder are all of the textures and backgrounds I’ve collected for On1 and Ps. Makes it easy for re downloading if a program changes due to upgrades. What I am grateful for is your reminder to insure my gear. Now I am in the process of organizing the collection of “back up” hard drives and forming a simple catalog of their content. Too much redundancy, call me paranoid.

  45. Art Norton

    Great video, Matt. I use KeePass for all my logins. I have a specific section for all the Photography stuff within the file for quick access.

    I tend to use the PC for most everything. A physical notebook just seems to get lost on my desk. I actually did try that at one point in time. I use Google Calendar for a lot of stuff (reminders of things I want to do, appointments, and everything else) and I have specific folders within Chrome for YouTube videos, photographer websites, etc. I just need to be a little more consistent. Having everything on the PC, I know exactly where it is and it gets backed up. It is definitely time to go back and review everything though. Thanks for lighting that fire.

  46. Michael Head

    A very effective way to protect your spreadsheets if you feel the need is to password protect them. The password protection in Excel is actually very effective. I password mine because ALL of my passwords are in there. Have a nice day.

  47. Julie Skousen

    I have completed these tasks! Did them in January or Feb 2019.

  48. Kim Pay

    You’ve struck a chord with me regarding getting organized. Your statement about ‘ practicing/learning with intent’ is exactly what I’ve not been doing – time to change it up. You have made getting organized a little less daunting of a task. Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet ideas & tips to make photography/learning (or whatever) a priority at certain times in the week. I appreciate you keeping it real in your presentations. I agree with you regarding all those goal planners & apps – crap! Sometimes keeping it simple with paper and pencil is all that’s needed.

    • Sharon Brownlow

      I love all these ideas. I’m a pretty organized person with my gear and my computer. What helped is this last year I got a dedicated work space, with a chest of deep drawers. I can have all my lenses, filters, cameras and all the miscellaneous items in view, so I can pick out what I need easily without searching. My work desk is clean and uncluttered, because for me a cluttered space causes my mind to also clutter. I keep my camera inventory on a document that I can update easily, so it’s simple to send changes to my insurance company as needed. My weakness is organizing my time. To watch videos and read articles is always at the end of the day when I’m tired, and I don’t retain information as well. I like the principal of practicing learning with intent. I need to make a dedicated study time a few times a week instead of just trying to fit it in.

      • Jim Maire

        Good point about watching videos when you’re tired Sharon. I’ve found I have to do that in the morning when I’m fresh and then practice what I learned right away to get it to stick.

  49. Christopher Bates


    The greatest thing since sliced bread has been the advances in solid state drives. They are small thus easy to take with you when you travel and they are cheap. I’ve made a file on my external drive which contains all the courses I’ve gotten from you. I is large enough so I can back up my photos to it as well.

    I long ago learned my memory will fail me at the most inopportune time. Because of that, I made a spreadsheet for passwords that is nearly identical to the one you suggest. I keep a copy on the external drive and working print copy on my desk. You just have to keep it up to date.

    All my gear is insured. One would be crazy not to have insurance. Good cameras, lens, etc are pricey so if you have to replace then it is better to let the insurance company bare some or all of the cost. The one thing I have not done is record serial numbers, model numbers, price and purchase dates. So that will be my project for this section.

  50. Fiona Lovett

    I like LastPass for a password manager. I don’t need to worry about coming up with novel passwords for each site, and don’t need to worry about remembering anything. It does all the work for me. It’s not often I spend money on phone apps, but after using the (free) computer version for a long time, I bit the bullet and now pay for it on my phone. Worth every penny!

    Good tips here; I’ve interpreted it a little differently and have created bookmarks on my browser for all the places I have bought equipment, and all the online learning I have. There’s a Chrome extension that allows you to tag bookmarks, which is really handy!

  51. Elwira Kotowska

    I use Trello both privately and professionally. I learned how to work with bookmarks in Chrome and with Gmail’s labels. I sync most things with Google Calendar. But when I listened to your video, I got an idea to organize my collections in Lightroom. Thanks for that. It will be an afternoon with Lr and photos from 2019 again :).

  52. lorettaf42

    Thanks Matt. I have most of this stuff on my computer. I actually know where SOME of it is. But soooo frustrating to find the other stuff. Will start on this today 😏

  53. Gary Simms

    Great ideas. Goals make you grow. Photo buddies help you achieve those goals.

    I got you Lightroom and Photoshop courses because I wanted an organized course that’s step by step rather than a disjointed series of YouTube videos.

    Friends are amazed at how fast I picked up Lightroom and Photoshop. Videos at a KelbyOne now make a lot more sense as do the books on Photoshop.

    Also love they are downloads. Put them on my tablet and review when I have time.

    Look at books by Bruce Emery for guitar theory and instruction. Best way be found. Worth every cent. Has 3 basic theory books and others on styles.

    I learned the ukulele too. It will teach you the guitar up the neck. Drop the guitar’s two bass strings, capo at the 5th fret, and you’ve got a ukulele. Friends don’t understand how I know the notes and chords up there.

  54. Judy Snyder

    Wow I’m feeling fairly well organized after watching this video. I have created the spreadsheets you mentioned, but they. need updating and you’ve inspired me to do that. Most of my “photo time” is spent on photo editing and project creation, but I do want to improve my photography skills. A little FYI, I’m nearly 80 years ago and am retired in Mexico. And, Matt, you’re the best!

  55. Anne Sandler

    Thanks Matt! I did pick up some great tips on organization. I do keep photo information and links on my hard drive in a special folder. I also have a backup on an external hard drive. However, I need to make more use of You Tube.

  56. Debbie Lynn

    Matt, you are hitting on several issues I have been procrastinating about. You are correct about all the training, YouTube, Add-in’s & all the other stuff I’ve downloaded & in a lot of cases telling myself, I’m going to watch that & learn how to do that. Then just as you pointed out…. where the heck did I put that… under what topic. 👍🏻
    On the equipment list, I have started one of those & one thing that seems to get over looked is batteries. Batteries for cameras, flashes, mics, lights, drones…. etc. These need to be numbered & the serial needs to be recorded along with especially the date purchased & what they go to. Easily overlooked.
    Thanks for all the tips & all the other help you put out. Really helps a lot & helps to keep us motivated!

  57. Richard Duckworth

    Great suggestions, Matt. I didn’t realize homeowners insurance did cover my gear. Thanks.
    One thing I have been doing in a hand written notebook for all the reasons you mentioned about notebooks…When I am leaning a new skill from a video, either one that I have purchased or on you tube, I write down the salient points in the notebook. That way I can quickly jolt the memory without going back and viewing the whole video.

    • Justine Kirby

      I do something similar with the salient points from videos, but in a Word doc, so I can move things around later to keep everything in a logical order. I don’t have the time or patience to keep rewatching videos. Also, if I’m traveling, I sometimes don’t have great Internet access.

  58. Pete

    Super ideas! I’ve used some of these and created and on line library for my photo club on Google Drive.

  59. Jack Gosnell

    For me it was going back and looking at all the different sources, groups and programs then asking myself does this fit in to what I want my images to look like. After that it was easy to drop those that didn’t fit. So the final list of sources ended up being two they both cover a broad range of subjects and approaches, I don’t feel lacking for knowledge and spend more time doing then trying to find that perfect answer.

  60. Kevin J Wohlers

    I like to keep all the downloaded presets, downloaded tools, and programs/apps to a folder on my computer. I then make a back of that folder and store it away. In the event of computer crash – all my software tools and programs are in one place for quick easy reloading.


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