I bought myself a Canon Digital Rebel for Christmas. Camera + lenses + 1GB memory card + printer + case and other accessories came to ~$1600; I justified the expense by saying that in the 15 months or so I'd had my Nikon Coolpix 2500, I'd taken over 2500 images. That many film pictures would have cost $1200 at least, so, I told myself, I really was doing enough photography that it wasn't ridiculous to spend that kind of money. And I was getting extremely frustrated with the limitations of the 2500.
I'd never used an SLR (film or digital) before; the 2500 was the first camera I'd owned at all since I was a kid. The pictures I could take (with the Rebel) were AWESOME. With the 300mm zoom lens, I could go out in the woods and take pictures of birds, and actually tell what the bird was from the picture. Most important, I could take frame filling photos of the cats.
The downside is that the images from the Rebel are typically around 3MB. And the Rebel takes pictures really quickly, so I can take over a hundred in a day easily. I can see that this is going to overflow my 20GB hard drive very fast.
I've adopted a system: When I pull the images off the flash card, they go in the 'raw' directory, in a subdirectory named for the date they were taken. If possible, I make a quick pass through the pictures and make a text file with brief notes about what they are, and then I burn two copies of the raw images to CDR - one stays here at home, one goes to work for off-site backup. (I went to a lot of trouble and expense to get these pictures; I don't want to lose them to some stupid computer disaster.) Then I do a more intensive pass through the pictures, making more detailed notes and culling the images that either weren't successful or are very similar to others. And I print some of them; if you've had the misfortune to meet me in person in the last few weeks, I've probably shoved a stack of pictures at you.
This system has two flaws: first (as far as I've taken it so far), it isn't sorting the pictures enough; my hard drive is still filling up with images that end up in folders named e:\sort\
I'm afraid I need to spend money on more computer hardware. No matter how well organized I am, I have too many pictures and not enough hard drive space. Hard disks are cheap. But the more painful bit is that I think the biggest thing I'll be able to do to make the sorting process hurt less is to get a machine that doesn't take 5 seconds to open each image I want to look at as more than a thumbnail. My two year old 600 MHz 128MB Celeron was plenty fast enough for what I wanted to do with it when I bought it, but it just doesn't have the guts for real image processing.