I've always liked nature in general. With the purchase of my first digital camera in 2003 it became practical to assemble a collection of nature images. It took a while to settle on what to photograph and how to organize the photos. As an example, I used to organize birds by continent but some birds occur on multiple continents so that didn't work for me. I eventually settled on organization by taxonomy. I also had to limit what images I wanted to collect. I settled on birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, butterflies and moths, dragonflies, interesting insects and, Canadian wildflowers. Fish would gave been nice but I don't live near warm waters and I don't dive. The frustrating part is when some species are visibly identical and differentiation can only happen by a close examination of some features. In those cases I just use the one species.
Filing by name didn't work for me so for each category I devised a numbering system for the species so that the photos insert themselves into the proper location. This eliminates the drudgery of filing the photos. I maintain the numbering on spreadsheets for each category. Where possible the numbering and list is global but in some cases global lists do not exist i.e. butterflies and moths for which I use a workaround.
I shoot in RAW and save the images in folders by species. I have an identical JPEG folder system and that is where the developed keepers go. When I come back from an outing I dump all of the images into a transfer folder. The first pass is deleting all out of focus images unless it is a life image in which case I will keep it until I can take a better one. The next step is to edit the EXIF information and add location taken and GPS coordinates. The next step is to move the files into the species folders, add the English and Latin names to the EXIF data in the title and keywords sections. With my RAW developer I can edit the EXIF in batch so editing the EXIF does not take a lot of work. I also rename the files that I want to process to the species name and numbering.
I post the keepers to an online site. It acts as a backup but also has some nice features such as keyword search and mapping from the GPS coordinates in the EXIF data.
You can see the finished product and the categories I photograph on this page
Something I have experimented with is pan listing but without the requirement of identifying everything right away. That you can't identify, just describe it to the best of your ability. That way you can more quickly get an idea of the species diversity of a single site and not spoil your fun by spending too much time with tedious identifications. Plus if you take the time to properly profile what you are looking at you will know it better in the long run.
I've always found it better to work on IDs as soon as possible to avoid strenuous backlogs. At least to family level, anyhow. Once you hit family level things get much easier.
I feel the issue with waiting and doing descriptions is many species are variable, and what might look like 5 species could be just 1. Of course if you are dealing with hundreds of species, the difference between 1 and 5 is minimal, so it sounds reasonable there.
OK, I'm resurrecting this old thread, more as a reminder of my start point for 2017, as I expect this year to be a good year for new species: I'll be in the US for vacation in the summer, a country in which I currently have a grand total of 11 species (8 bird species, two mammals, one plant!).
So, the "score-on-the-doors" as of the start of this year:
Reptiles & Amphibians: 16
Other animals: 30
I just got back from three weeks in Florida with my family, and reckon I added 90-100 species to my life list. Admittedly, I was mostly submerged in all things Disney, so didn't get a lot of time to explore the local wildlife. I added about 40 bird species, 30 insects, 20 plants and a handful of herps. I guess it didn't help that we stayed in a small region immediately around the Disney parks, so very little wilderness or habitat variety, and almost everywhere we went was very carefully managed gardens (so very few wild plants to be seen). But I would have needed to spend every hour of every day taking photos with my phone to add 500 new species!!