Managing photo storage on my iPhone/iPhoto/Pictures/External Hard-drive

Hello, I need some help with managing photo storage on my iPhone/iPhoto/Pictures/External Hard-drive.
Background:
I have 1,200 photos/videos on my iPhone 4S on the camera roll and need to delete them to save space. Most are photos/videos of my new baby which I would be devastated to lose, so I want to be 110% sure that I have them backed up properly and accessible.
I frequently hook my iPhone up to iPhoto to download all of the latest photos to iPhoto.
I have done Time Machine back ups and just did a latest one yesterday.
I would like to save my camera roll into a folder on my hard-drive so that all of these photos are in one place in case I need to access them (and not spread across different folders like in iPhoto).
My Mac (Macbook Pro - circa 2009) is now telling me that my 'Starter Disc is nearly full' and won't save all of the photos from my camera roll.
My questions;
Are photos stored both in iPhoto and Pictures folder, and if so are they duplicates?
I've heard that Time Machine only backs up full libraries and so cannot be used to access individual photos - is this true? If so, how do you access individual photos/files from my external hard-drive?
How and where should I delete older photos from to save space on my Mac - iPhoto or Pictures? (once I know how to access them from my external drive if needed).
How do I delete all of my photos from my iPhone camera roll in one go? - I can only see a way to delete the 1,200 of them individually.
Going forward where is the best place for me to synch/upload my photos for medium term storage/access on my Mac?
I would consider myself quite intelligent but when it comes to this topic, I'm happy to be spoken to in very simplistic terms!
Thank you.

Import the photos to iPhoto - then select the photos in iPhoto and export (file menu ==> export) to the desired location
LN

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