I know I took that photo, but I can’t find it!

The other day I needed to find this photograph I took of the last Studebaker ever produced, a 1966 Cruiser.

From the beginning I’ve stored my photos on my hard drive in dated folders grouped by year. When I remember about when I took a photo, I can find it fast. I knew I visited the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend several months before my parents moved away from that city. I remembered well that they moved away in August of 2014. So I had to look only through my 2014 and 2013 folders to find the subfolder with this photograph.

But that’s no longer my norm. I’ve made tens of thousands of photographs since beginning this photography hobby more than a decade ago. I frequently can’t remember when I took a particular photo.

I know, I know, I should have been using some sort of cataloging software all along. But having never stuck with any hobby for this long, I never saw this problem coming. I did try Lightroom for a while last year for its cataloging and tagging system, but I found its user interface to be so byzantine that I gave up on it in frustration. And it would be an enormous project to tag every photo I ever made.

Hoch lebe Deutschland!

Fortunately, I’ve uploaded a lot of my photographs to Flickr, which has some AI that guesses what’s in each photograph and tags them accordingly. And I wrote quick descriptions on most photos when I uploaded them. So when I wrote that recent post about my poor Toyota Matrix’s last days, a quick Flickr search for “Matrix” returned more photos than I could use.

But for every photo that I’ve uploaded to Flickr there is at least one more that I haven’t. The dozens of photos I shot on that 2013 visit to the Studebaker National Museum are among them. But it’s unusual now that I can remember when I took a particular photograph.

So I ask you: what is your solution? How have you categorized, organized, tagged, or indexed your photographs so you can find one when you need it?