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Thread: How do you organize your photos?

  1. #1

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    How do you organize your photos?

    I think it's time that I give organization some real thought. Right now all my raw files are somewhat scattered across my computer. How do you guys like to keep order?

  2. #2
    Rob Douglas's Avatar
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    I have two 1TB external HD's. One is for RAW images, the other for processed. I pretty much upload to my PC off the camera and use the default dated folder it's placed in. I upload to my PC after every shoot so it stays pretty organized in that respect. The processed images work pretty much the same way but each year I create a folder with that year as the title and create all my sub-folders within. After processing a days shoot I'll either make a folder for that date and event name (if it is an event) or I will place the images in appropriately labeled folders such as still life, landscapes, macro, selective coloring, products, etc. Each year I create a new folder with the year as the title and create all the before mentioned folders in it so I can keep track of each years progress. Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Rob Douglas; 27th December 2011 at 07:53 PM.

  3. #3
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    I just make a folder with year/months. But sometimes it can hold quite a lot and the date is the date of processing, not the original date. So it can take a while to find things since I have near on 500GB of images, mostly crap.

  4. #4
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    I downloaded the open source digiKam package ands was going to get all organised. But the notion soon wore off.
    I've got three primary folders set up in windows file management - 'Raws', 'XCFs' (I use the GIMP) and 'JPGs'. At the next level I have series of subfolders that are replicated in each of the three primaries folders. Each file is named in accordance with the protocol 'YYMMDD Image Title'.

    And that does me just fine.

    I don't shoot in such high quantities that I need something more complicated.

    Keep it simple.

  5. #5

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Burn to a DVD and also store on an external drive.

    The external drive folders are labeled with year and month. These are subdivided into daily folders, which may sometimes also contain a key word.

    A few special events have their own folder but labeled in a similar manner.

    And I am rather particular about what gets saved. If I can't answer yes to the question 'Do I really need to save this as a Raw file' it gets ditched.

    A somewhat similar system is used to store the Tiff files.

  6. #6
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    My pics are catalogued in yearly main folders. Each year is split into DVD sized sub-folders numbered sequentially (yes one of my back-ups is to DVD). Within each DVD subfolder are my various 'shoots' which are date labelled (American style which aids sorting) plus a camera tag and brief description. It sounds complicated but works a treat and I can find stuff pretty quickly.
    As a Lightroom user, I also use key words extensively which also helps locate shots very quickly indeed.

  7. #7

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    I keep 2 main directories: "Lightroom" and "Export".
    "Lightroom" contains raw files and PS files and looks like this:

    Lightroom
    - 2008
    - 2009
    - ...
    -2011
    --- 2011_01_02
    --- 2011_02_20
    --- ...
    --- 2011_12_27
    ----- VZ_2011_12_27_01.dng
    ----- VZ_2011_12_27_02.dng
    ----- VZ_2011_12_27_03.dng
    ----- VZ_2011_12_27_03_Edit.psd
    ----- ...

    "Export" contains JPEG's (in a disorganized pile of directories), which are there just "for the record", because all those files end up online or in print. Exports keep the names of the files they came from (just the extention is .jpg), so the original is very easy to find, given the export's name.

    Lightroom is great help in keeping files organized.

    For backup I used Mozy, but now they jacked up the price and cut down the space, so I have to dump them. Will be looking at backing up at home. This looks interesting.

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    I am not saying I'm right, but here's some thoughts for discussion.

    Personally, I've never seen the point in having 'dated' folder names because listing images ordered by, or filtered by, Date Created should be fairly easy for any PP program to do, it's even possible by file properties in Windows.

    Better perhaps, is a folder and file name system based on what the image is, but hang on ...

    Imagine a folder hierarchy;
    Portraits\Mum
    Portraits\Dad
    Portraits\Sonny
    Portraits\Daughty


    OK, it's obvious where individual shots go, but where do you put pairs and larger groups?
    Portraits\Mum and Dad
    Portraits\Kids
    Getting silly isn't it?


    Usng keywords in tags, which allows multiple namings, is better than using folder names as above.

    Keywords = "Portrait, Sonny, Mum, Beach, Tenerife, Holiday"
    Now you can find it, and more importantly related images, easily by filtering on one or more of those words.

    Same thing goes for shots of say; birds, list all species in the shot, where it was taken, anything else significant e.g. seasonal plumage, waterfall, displaying, diving, etc.

    The file name really need only be the sequence number from the camera.
    The folder name the batch download.

    Keep them all in a flat folder structure one level deep.

    I'm not saying I have gripped this myself yet, so I'll be avidly following where this goes.

    Cheers,

  9. #9

    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Photo folders organized by date taken. Each file renamed to match the date (usually something like: YYYY_MM_DD_short description-###) and filed into their respective folders. Backup to external HDD. Within each day's folder, additional folders for edits.

    I don't use online backups as I should, but BackBlaze seems worth looking into.

    It gets tedious, and I too am interested in seeing what everyone else uses since my method doesn't work so well with the rating system in Adobe Bridge. (There doesn't seem to be any way to view the star ratings of each picture unless you're viewing each folder separately, which makes it difficult to find all of your favorites at once.)
    Last edited by DoesNotFollow; 27th December 2011 at 10:22 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    If you must use a date in the file/folder names, the "YYYY_MM_DD_" method is definitely the best one to use; anything else will scramble them up when listed by name. YYYY_MM_DD is also a global standard, avoiding confusing months and days.

    Another pet peeve is spaces in filenames, this will inevitably cause problems when they are hosted on a website.
    However, it is easy to do accidentally, I do it myself, then go back and turn them into underscores "_" (then smack myself for being so daft).

  11. #11
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoesNotFollow View Post
    Photo folders organized by date taken. Each file renamed to match the date (usually something like: YYYY_MM_DD_short description-###) and filed into their respective folders. Backup to external HDD. Within each day's folder, additional folders for edits.

    I don't use online backups as I should, but BackBlaze seems worth looking into.

    It gets tedious, and I too am interested in seeing what everyone else uses since my method doesn't work so well with the rating system in Adobe Bridge. (There doesn't seem to be any way to view the star ratings of each picture unless you're viewing each folder separately, which makes it difficult to find all of your favorites at once.)
    All of my file transfers has the date, the camera model, a key phrase (depends on what most of the theme of the day was-low light, special event etc.), and then every series is placed in a master folder. My smaller external drive was running out of space and I was constantly transferring files to DVD, finally purchased a larger capacity drive that should keep me going for a while.

  12. #12

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Dave,
    Absolutely no argument here against keywords (or tags). I try to use them as much as possible. Directory structure for the files does not contradict using tags at all. You can have both, and I use both (and "Collections" too). The only thing with using "tags only" strategy is that the files, which are not (yet) tagged are not (yet) organized. And tagging is work, and sometimes it takes me forever to get to do that work. With directories - files are "somewhat" organized right upon the import. Another benefit of directories is that you can just click on one of them and see all the shots from that day (shoot). It's a "one click" operation. Can I have it as simple if a I have all (or very many) files in one directory?
    And another thing I do - once I am "done" with the directory (all tagged, tweaked, post-processed) - I'll give it a suffix, so it looks like 2011_12_17_street_party, for example. And then by looking at the list of directories I can tell which of them are "done", and which are not.

    Jon,
    After my experience with Mozy - I wouldn't recommend online backup to anybody. I strongly suspect that unlimited storage online goes in a way of unlimited wireless bandwidth. Remember - you could have that for $30 a month? Not anymore...
    Now, in a situation when I have 130GB backed up with Mozy - you know how long it will take to back them up again somewhere else? Loooong time! Months, probably. And never believe them when they say it's "seamless". It hogs your internet bandwidth quite a bit... All depends on the size of the backup, of course...

  13. #13

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoesNotFollow View Post
    There doesn't seem to be any way to view the star ratings of each picture unless you're viewing each folder separately, which makes it difficult to find all of your favorites at once.
    With Lightroom this is not a problem. You can select a "year" directory, or ALL directories, or any other combination, and see ratings of all the pictures in those, and then filter out all that are less than 3 stars (for example), if you want.

  14. #14

    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Keywords/Tags are a great idea, I don't use them nearly as much as I should (if at all).

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    With Lightroom this is not a problem. You can select a "year" directory, or ALL directories, or any other combination, and see ratings of all the pictures in those, and then filter out all that are less than 3 stars (for example), if you want.
    Any suggestions for someone using Adobe Bridge?

  15. #15

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoesNotFollow View Post
    Any suggestions for someone using Adobe Bridge?
    Suggestions?
    Get Lightroom!

    Find a friend or a family member, who goes to school, and get a student edition for $89 (I think). It's a fully functional version, only cheaper.

    Seriously, though, I don't know anything about the Bridge.
    Hopefully some other people here will have more useful advice for you.
    Last edited by vladimir; 28th December 2011 at 01:59 AM. Reason: "edition" - not "addition"

  16. #16

    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by vladimir View Post
    Now, in a situation when I have 130GB backed up with Mozy - you know how long it will take to back them up again somewhere else? Loooong time! Months, probably. And never believe them when they say it's "seamless". It hogs your internet bandwidth quite a bit... All depends on the size of the backup, of course...
    Indeed, this is one of the reasons I have not yet backed up any photos online. One other thing keeping me from online backups is that my internet services (along with many others recently) are capping bandwidth at 250 gb a month. Divided between myself and the five others I share the connection with, it would take a very long time to backup based on dancing around this limit, let alone the upload speed.

    I just hope my HDD backup doesn't fail me...

  17. #17

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoesNotFollow View Post
    I just hope my HDD backup doesn't fail me...
    Yep. I think HDD is our best bet at the moment.

  18. #18

    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Does anyone sort/organize photos based on location?

  19. #19

    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Each session or event in a folder with year-month at the start, and parent folder for each year:

    How do you organize your photos?

    They're imported into Lightroom, keeping the same structure:

    How do you organize your photos?

    All versions to keep of images are in the same folders: raw files and in some cases Photoshop-ed versions. If I export to host on the web, send to a print lab, send to someone else or whatever, then I export to a temporary folder, and as soon as the images are uploaded or sent they're deleted. If I need them again, I export again from the master copies.

    Any other categorisation - people, places etc is by means of keywords or collections in Lightroom.

    Some others have talked of separate raw and processed folders, or raw and export etc; I think Lightroom works best when all versions of an image (often only one) are in one folder. Multiple versions are merely metadata in Lightroom - effectively giving instructions on how to create the version required from the original. In this sense Lightroom is brilliant for version control.

  20. #20

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    Re: How do you organize your photos?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoesNotFollow View Post
    Keywords/Tags are a great idea, I don't use them nearly as much as I should (if at all).



    Any suggestions for someone using Adobe Bridge?
    Jon, I just took a look at Bridge and this worked for me:

    Open up a file. Select the photos to which you wish to apply the keywords.
    Select WINDOW and then select KEYWORDS PANEL
    The panel will open on the far left.
    You can choose the presets (mine are useless to me ) or...
    Use the typing bar in the panel to enter a keyword (like FALL) and hit the larger of the two plus signs to enter it into the panel.
    If you'd then like a sub-keyword, enter it (2011 for instance) and use the smaller of the two plus signs.

    If you look further down on the left side, you'll see that they are all entered automatically.

    To search for keywords, just go to the top search bar (on the right) and enter your word (s). I tried it by adding FALL and 2011 to a set of photos, closed the file and then did a search on FALL. It worked.

    I think I might start using this feature for photos of individual hockey players, riders etc. after I figure out the finer details of using it.

    Thanks, Blake, for asking the question!

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