Spring is an ideal time to do a little photography spring cleaning. Spending time with your gear, organizing your images, and establishing some new habits ensures you’re ready for a fabulous season of shooting ahead. The following photography spring cleaning tips will walk you through the essential steps to take for a thorough cleaning.
Clean all of your camera bodies, lenses, and filters
First, use a rocket air blaster to clean visible dust and debris off the outside of your camera bodies and lenses, taking care to clean every crevice. Please don’t use canned air, as the chemicals it emits damages lens coatings and other elements of photography gear. Second, with the lens caps on, apply a keyboard cleaning product to the outside of your camera body and lenses to get in the tiny cracks in your gear an air blower can’t access. Finally, finish your gear cleaning by taking a microfiber lens cleaning cloth, lens pen, or moistened lens cleaning wipes to clean lens glass, lens caps, filters, and camera body LCD screens.
Assess the condition of your sensors
Many photographers are afraid to clean their own camera sensors because there are so many warnings from camera manufacturers and local camera shops. If you’re new to the process of sensor cleaning, take your camera to the local shop, so you can watch how it’s done right. Once you know how to clean a camera sensor, you can complete the process at home. Make sure to get the right size sensor cleaning kit from Visible Dust or VSGO, which will include a cleaning substance and specially sized swabs.
Check your metadata and copyright data
If you live in an area that follows daylight savings time, update the time in your camera after daylight savings time. Don’t forget to update your copyright data once a year as well. You can update your copyright data in camera or in Lightroom.
Do a photography gear inventory check
Take all of your photography gear off the shelves and out of your camera bag. If there are spare items lying around your house, such as memory cards and chargers, round them up as well. Make a master list of your photography gear, so you know exactly what you have and can avoid buying duplicates or searching for items you don’t remember if you own.Once you’ve inventoried your gear, consider selling gear that you no longer need or use. While it’s nice to have a spare camera body and an extra lens or two, keeping a lot of extra gear on hand that you never use doesn’t make sense. If you’re in the market for new gear, selling older items will help fund those purchases. If there isn’t anything you want to sell right away, start taking note of how often you use each piece of gear. When spring cleaning rolls around next year, and there’s gear you haven’t touched since the last cleaning, it may be time to let it go.
Organize your hard drive and external drive(s)
Creating and sticking to a hard drive photo organization system ensures you can find images when you need them quickly and easily. For most people, the simplest way to organize photos is by date. Create a folder for each year and then within it, a folder for each month. File all of your photos in their corresponding month folders with clear titles, such as “3.29.18 Alex’s Birthday Party” or “Grand Canyon Vacation May 2018.” Once you’ve organized your hard drive, take a look at your external drives as well, cleaning them up as needed.
Implement an image backup system
The best photo backup system is the rule of three, which is as follows: three copies of anything you care about, two different formats, and one off-site backup. I know that many people are reluctant to pay for off-site backup. However, it’s well worth every penny and will save your butt if anything happens to your computer, or worse, your home. Personally, I think that the easiest way to follow this backup system is to use a hard drive, external drive, and automatic cloud backup service, such as Carbonite. When you’ve finished editing images, save them to your hard drive and external drive. The cloud backup service will pick up these images automatically.
Clean up your Lightroom catalog
Opening up Lightroom and seeing a messy catalog every time is stressful and overwhelming. Start by clearing out folders you’ve finished editing and no longer need in Lightroom. Then assess the remaining folders. Organize anything that isn’t well labeled. Work through your Lightroom folders one at a time, culling the images you want to edit and deleting files you won’t ever touch for various reasons (i.e. blurry, too dark, poorly framed, etc.).
Don’t forget about the photos on your phone, too!
When I think about cleaning up my photos, I always think about my DSLR photos. However, like many people, even though I own a DSLR camera, I shoot quite a bit with my phone, too. I recommend periodically downloading all of your phone photos onto your computer, deleting the ones you don’t need, and organizing the ones that you do need. If you use an automatic phone photo backup service (which is a good idea if you take pictures on your phone you wouldn’t want to lose), such as Google Photos, go ahead and delete all of the original images off your phone. Then clean up your Google Photos account instead.
Do you have any additional photography spring cleaning tips?
Feel free to share them in the comments!