Organizing Trail Camera Photos: NDA Members Share Ideas

September 17, 2019 | by National Deer Alliance

In our August 21, 2019 membership survey, we asked NDA members to tell us about their trail camera photo management habits, and to share their personal methods for organizing photos. Through the survey we learned that about 61% of respondents have their own organization system, and just 21% save all of their photos. We were surprised to learn only about 2% use a commercial photo management application. Just over 42% reported saving mostly buck photos while also filing a few that are unique in some way. Only 14% indicated that they only save buck photos.

When it comes to personal photo management systems, we got nearly 250 responses that included a lot of great ideas. One of the more popular responses was maintaining a folder for each hunting property that the individual hunted, and then setting up sub-folders for bucks that they are either interested in shooting, or at least monitoring for future years. Others set up folders for each of their cameras and then organize the photos by date so they can review them for any trends that stand out.

One person said, “I keep track of the photos by season: spring, summer, fall, and winter. I use them to help pattern deer movement and to learn what deer are using what area, and when. As far as tracking bucks, it helps me learn what bucks I have in the area, and then decide which ones I may want to target for the year.” Another reported using Google Photos effectively. He explained, “I set up a free Google Photos account and upload my photos there so I can see them on any of my devices. While I do make sub-folders to track individual deer, sometimes the face recognition function will group photos of a particular deer for me, which is pretty cool.”

Another hunter explained, “I use Adobe Lightroom to organize my pictures. I organize them in folders by location, then use a system of star ratings and tags to organize pics into antlered and antlerless, and to identify individual bucks. Lightroom has the added benefit of syncing between your desktop computer and your iPad or iPhone, so I don’t have to be tethered to my desk in order to work on my camera survey. Also,  the folders can be shared with others who can help bear the burden of processing pictures. In total, we process approx. 60,000 pics a year this way!”

A few respondents wrote that they pay for a photo management service, and it is money well spent. As one person put it, “I don’t have a lot of time to play around with photos so I upload the ones I want to save into DeerLab and it does all of the work for me. It even produces graphs to help me track movement of individual deer based on time of day and weather.”

Many reported they don’t have a need for a sophisticated filing system as they simply enjoy seeing the photos and learning about the deer in their area before deleting them. One hunter added a little humor by sharing, “I’m not too good when it comes to computers so I just take pictures of my screen with my phone. This makes it simple for me to have the photos in the palm of my hand and to share them with my buddies in a text message. I call it my redneck scanner!”