You can edit, organize, store and share your photos without photo-organizing software, but the software makes all of these steps much easier.
Instead of merely naming your photos based on the subject you want to search for, you can use software to tag photos. This means that you can search through your archives for images that you tag of a particular person or event. You can use as many tags as you want on one image, so if you have a photo of Kim in St. Louis, you can tag the photo to be searchable under both "Kim" and "St. Louis" [source: Hendricks].
For digital photography that's more advanced than the simple point and shoot, you can even tag photos for specific camera settings. If you want to search for all images you shot using a particular aperture, all you need to do is tag the photos accordingly [source: Desmond].
Some photo-organizing software is free and can be found online, while more complex software can cost more than $300 [source: Pash]. The best software for you depends -- just like organizational techniques -- on how you want to use your photos. If sharing photos with others is very important to you, free software that's shareable online, such as Picasa or Flickr, may be your best bet. However, if you want to professionally edit your photos, you may want to pay for a program like Adobe Lightroom.
Any of these programs can help you create a simple backup of your digital files, whether they were taken with a digital camera or scanned into your computer. But you may be concerned about preserving older, original print photographs. For information on preserving photos, read on.