Pics of Property Treat Them Like Documents

My wife and I have taken many pictures of all of our properties. It takes time and effort in staging but we often forget a crucial aspect of holding onto these gems, archiving and saving them in a predictable fashion. We have a good system for document file management but our pictures invariably fall into a black hole and need to be re-taken. Over time this can lead to a sense of dejavu, ‘didn’t we take these pictures 4 years ago?’. Often these retakes were not needed as the property did not change, but had to be done as we could not find the originals. Treat picture files like document files and you will save yourself a lot of retakes.

I think the problem stems from how the picture files come into existence versus document files. One of my first steps in creating or receiving a document is to give the document a meaningful name, possibly a date and ensure that it is placed in the appropriate folder. So a refinance document would typically be in a folder under the company name and easily identifiable because it has a good descriptive title.

Pictures on the other hand are usually taken remotely with a digital camera, stored with a cryptic naming convention (100034662 for example) and often left in the camera until it is needed. At odd times like when the camera is full, the pictures are downloaded into a central photo folder and we dig for what we need based on download date and the thumb image preview. Since there are often dozens of pictures that would require a bit of time to rename and file appropriately, they all languish in a big pool of pictures or worse, exist in an ever expanding ‘my pictures’ folder.

If you have 10 rental units and an average of 20 pics for each and they are sitting in a pool of mixed pictures, (family, friends, vacation pics…) and have cryptic titles, good luck sifting through the mess to find the appropriate pictures you are looking for. My advise is to set aside time shortly after taking pictures to do a little picture management. Download the pics in a hold or new folder, come up with a good picture file naming convention, rename and file the pictures in a meaningful folder location and don’t forget to incorporate them into your backup habits. As an example, you just took pictures at the chestnut street right side unit in 2016. I would name the pictures starting with a ‘c’, then ‘rght’, then a very brief description, (1ktch, then the next kitchen picture 2ktch…) followed by the date or year. This results in a picture title something like ‘crght1ktch2016’. Might still be some what cryptic but if placed in the property>chestnut>pictures folder you will figure out which pic is which.

I understand that this is not exactly an exciting topic but considering what these pictures are worth in managing your rental investment properties, it might be worth some serious consideration. I learned the hard way, repeating my past picture taking efforts, sometimes more then twice and I probably still have pictures to manage that are still sitting in the digital camera.

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