How to back up your photographs in Evernote

A couple of weeks ago I described my photography backup plan and explained why I use Evernote to back up my best photographs.

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Turns out the article was more popular than I expected and a few people have asked me to expand on exactly how I store photographs in Evernote. I can understand the question. There are a few ways to do it and each behaves a bit differently, so I'll expand on the details today.

If you haven't read the previous article, I suggest you go read it for context first. I explain why I back up photographs in Evernote as one part of my overall photography backups. The gist of it is that it is not my only back up. It's not even my main back up. I use Evernote as an extra safety net for only full resolution JPEGs of my best photographs.

OK, now that you've read the why of it, here's the how.

Export high resolution JPEGs

I use Apple's Aperture, but no matter what application you use, just export full res JPEGs to a folder on your computer.

In Aperture, it's as simple as following these steps:

  1. In the Project, create a Smart Album that filters photographs to 4 Stars and above. I call the album "Backup EN".
  2. In the new album, select all photographs.
  3. Go to File > Export > Versions (or cmd-shift-E). It's important to choose Versions and not Originals. Versions will export the photographs with any adjustments and metadata you've added baked in. Originals will export the original file which doesn't include any changes you've made in Aperture. Remember Aperture is non-destructive, so your originals are always intact.
  4. In the Export window, choose "JPEG - Original Size". This will export with the default image quality of 10. You could increase it to 12, but I find 10 is good enough. You can also export as TIFF if you want. It'll give you better quality with larger file sizes. But since these are final images and won't be manipulated anymore, JPEG is good.

Of course, the originals stay in Aperture and are backed up separately (see previous article).

Store the JPEGs in Evernote

There are several ways of getting your photographs into Evernote and this is where it can get confusing. The three methods described below give you a different result, but they all get your images into Evernote, which is what you want. All examples are using a Mac, since that's what I use. I don't know if it's the same on a PC.

Option 1: Drag or add the Folder into Evernote

If you select the folder you just exported your photographs into and add it to Evernote by either dragging it or using the Add to Evernote service, you'll end up with a new note with a compressed zip file inside that includes all the photos.

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The problem with this is that you can't preview the photographs in the note without unzipping the file. Quick Look doesn't show you the contents either. Also, the note will be created in the default notebook.

Option 2: Drag or add the photographs into Evernote

If instead of importing the folder you select the photographs themselves and then drag or add to Evernote, you'll get a new note for each photograph with the filename as the title.

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With this method you can see the photographs, but I think it's a bit messy and it'll be a pain to find them all later unless you tag or re-title them. You can always merge them into a single note once in Evernote, but it's an extra step. And the notes will all be in the default notebook as well.

Option 3: Create a new Note, then attach the photographs

If you create a new note in Evernote first, you can create it in the appropriate notebook and stack, and give it the title you want. In my case I use the exact same as the Project name in Aperture. Then either drag the images in or click the Attach button and attach them that way.

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This will create a note with all the images in it. You can now see them all and they're all tidy in the same place. One note per project. I use this method.

Conclusion

The method you choose will depend on how you use Evernote and what a "note" means to you. There's no right answer.

Personally, I like to map a note in Evernote to a project in Aperture and I want to be able to browse through my Evernote library and see the photographs in each note. You could probably save some space by compressing the photographs, but I don't think it's worth it.

If you want to learn or get better at Evernote, I suggest you get Brett Kelly's ebook, Evernote Essentials. It will save you a ton of time and give you great ideas to get the most out of Evernote. I believe it's a good investment. You can find my review of the ebook here.