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Thread: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    I started with Windows Photo Gallery and using Picasa, and I still like Picasa as it is simple and it provides a simple and easy way to find and organize my photos.

    That said, I now have Photoshop Elements 9 and Lightroom 4.1 for editing and both programs seem to want to take over Picasa for uploading photos.. So for now I upload and organize all my photos in Picasa, but I'm thinking that perhaps I should use Photoshop or Lightroom for this.

    I have 1000's of photos that I need to organize and clean up, and before I start this daunting project I would like to ask for recommendations on the best way to do this.

    Thank you.

  2. #2

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Personally I'd recommend that you use Lightroom for organizing; you can also use it for most or all of your editing. Since you already have Lightroom I would stick with that since it's a professional program and you can grow into it.

    Organizing in Lightroom is slightly different than with Picasa (you create "collections" in Lightroom as opposed to albums), but it's easy to learn.

    Two things to help you organize: use the built-in rating system (stars) and apply keywords to all your photos. That'll allow you to find things quickly and to sort by ratings. When I import a bunch of photos I start by giving my best photos 4 stars (5 is the highest but I reserve that for the truly exceptional photos; the ones I consider the best images I've ever taken in my life). Then I give the not-so-great images 3 or 2 stars (2 stars would be images that are not very good as taken but could be salvaged with some cropping and other post-processing). Then I apply a filter to show all the unrated photos and I delete them.

    Keywords will help you find photos much more quickly -- for example we have a very photogenic rock garden, and I label all my rock garden photos with the keyword "rock garden." I can then find all my rock garden photos in 1 or 2 seconds flat. It's great. Unfortunately if you haven't been doing this all along it becomes a daunting task when you have to add keywords to thousands of photos. Just do the ratings first, which will help you reduce the size of your library, and then set a goal to add keywords to 5 or 6 photos every day. Eventually you'll get caught up.

  3. #3
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Thank you. Your advice is very helpful. I did not realize that collections were the same as albums, so this is great to know as is your organization strategy.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Christina,

    When I began cataloging my digital photos, acquiring a controlled vocabulary, which is a fancy name for a heirarchy of keywords, was the single most important thing that I did for making life easy. The controlled vocabulary spared me from having to create my own heirarchy and spend forever reorganizing it. Better yet, when I want to add keywords to it, the structure is already defined.

    I can't recommend the David Reick's Controlled Vocabulary highly enough. You also might want to consider the U. S. Library of Congress's Thesaurus for Graphic Materials, which is free. Google them to quickly find them.

  5. #5
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Thank you. I've book marked the site.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    I used my own system for organizing photos for years until I got Lightroom. Most folks sing the praises of Lightroom's system of file organization but, I still would rather have my old system back.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    I don't use Lightroom to organise my photographs. I have them all on an external HDD and most (apart from the ones rescued from my laptop HDD) are in folders that are dated or have titles such as "Pet Photography" then sub folders with the name of each animal.

    It's a fairly simple system but I like it.

  8. #8

    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I started with Windows Photo Gallery and using Picasa, and I still like Picasa as it is simple and it provides a simple and easy way to find and organize my photos.

    That said, I now have Photoshop Elements 9 and Lightroom 4.1 for editing and both programs seem to want to take over Picasa for uploading photos.. So for now I upload and organize all my photos in Picasa, but I'm thinking that perhaps I should use Photoshop or Lightroom for this.

    I have 1000's of photos that I need to organize and clean up, and before I start this daunting project I would like to ask for recommendations on the best way to do this.

    Thank you.
    Thank you I was looking for the same thing.

  9. #9
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Oh jeez... months later and I am really just beginning to tackle this task.

    After all this time, I can say that I like light-room the best, no need for Picasa at all.

    If I had to do it all over again I would upload all of my photos into Lightroom as soon as I purchased it. Right now I am going through the Picasa photos, deleting the bad ones and then uploading the photos to Lightroom with key words. Once done I will delete Picasa from my computer.

    I also read that when you start doing this you should create a file called lightroom photos within you picture file... It saves time in future but why I'm not sure.

  10. #10
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Hi Christina... I recently jumped through the same hoops you did. I still like Picasa for it's facial recognition, so here's what I do...

    1) After a day's shooting, let Picasa chew on the photos and do it's facial recognition. Assign a key word (person's name) to each photo I want tagged with that person's name. Picasa names don't seem to be captured by Lightroom.

    2) Import and organize using LR.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I also read that when you start doing this you should create a file called lightroom photos within you picture file... It saves time in future but why I'm not sure.
    It would be interesting to know the rationale behind the advice. My experience has been (from since LR1 through 5) that LR doesn't much care where you keep your files. Mine are (largely) on a dedicated external hard disk but the catalog is aware of the photos I maintain on my boot disk (copies of the final versions, web exports, etc.). I'm up to around 80k files and I can't find any operational hiccups that are attributable to my somewhat schizoid file structure, one that represents both the before and after LR regimes. Perhaps the source was thinking forward to the disappearance of Lightroom but such an event would arrive with plenty of warning.

    As with all else, discipline and understanding in devising and applying a system is everything and far more important than the system itself. If you intend to sell photos then hewing to industry standard keywords may be critical. If, instead, you are, as I am, cataloguing your life, then idiosyncratic keywords will get you where you want to go faster and with less confusion. Applying keywords can take place in relatively little time. When I first started using LR I had perhaps 35k images and their classification took place on one of the most pleasant rainy weekends I have ever spent - a photo fest! Probably 6-8 hours altogether and, don't forget, I was learning as I progressed. Ii think I may have tossed at least one partially built catalogue, perhaps two. The ability to apply keywords to groups of images selected by whichever method makes things go fast. So can the paint spray tool. The trick is to be disciplined at the time of ingesting the images.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Christina, I would highly recommend the tutorials by George Jardine found HERE. He has an entire series dedicated to the Library module of Lightroom. They are inexpensive and he does a very good job of explaining why he chooses the method he does but also how you can set it up differently. He shows you how to set up keywords effectively and the other ways that you can filter and search your library for photos. It's so much easier than the old way I used to try to organize by subject or place.

    I also recommend his other tutorials as they've been very helpful to me.

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Hi Christina,

    In addition to the above recoms, maybe you'd find these youtube playlist (42 vids) about LR develop/catalogs etc. helpful.

    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF423B46E6BF312A4

    HTH

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    I also read that when you start doing this you should create a file called lightroom photos within you picture file... It saves time in future but why I'm not sure.
    Hi Christina: It's true as Hendrik said that LR doesn't really care where your photos are BUT I thought I'd Quote for you the rational for the separate folder from Scott Kelby:

    "... that way when the day comes when you run out of hard drive space... you can move copy, or back up your entire photo library by simply moving one folder. This is one of those things that if you do it now, there will come a day when it will save you not just hours, but literally days, worth of work."

    Makes sense to me. I remember when I got a new computer a few years ago, sorting files to transfer took me a long time. Having everything organized into one folder would have been much easier. Even if I had let things get a bit untidy, I would still have only one folder to clean up and move.

    Anyway, just thought I'd mention it so you could keep it in mind

    Wendy

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    I've literally got tens of thousands of images now. Particularly since I started shooting agility during which I will typically shoot 3-5000 images in one weekend. The best plan I've come up with so far for organizing them is to do it tomorrow

  16. #16
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Thank you Terri,
    I am currently working my way through the tutorials of Hal Schmidt which I like... If you think I should also do those by George Jardine, I will if you think they have something more for me to learn.

    Thank you for the recommendation.


    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    Christina, I would highly recommend the tutorials by George Jardine found HERE. He has an entire series dedicated to the Library module of Lightroom. They are inexpensive and he does a very good job of explaining why he chooses the method he does but also how you can set it up differently. He shows you how to set up keywords effectively and the other ways that you can filter and search your library for photos. It's so much easier than the old way I used to try to organize by subject or place.

    I also recommend his other tutorials as they've been very helpful to me.

  17. #17
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Thank you Terri, Victor, Wendy and Simon for your informative and helpful replies, and Dan for letting me know that I am not the only one who is not as organized with their photos as they should be.

    Wendy thanks for sharing that... I read that somewhere but couldn't remember the reasoning behind it.

    Great information, very helpful.. Thank you.

  18. #18

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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    ... the rational for the separate folder from Scott Kelby:

    "... that way when the day comes when you run out of hard drive space... you can move copy, or back up your entire photo library by simply moving one folder. This is one of those things that if you do it now, there will come a day when it will save you not just hours, but literally days, worth of work."

    Wendy
    Thanks for that.

    It would certainly make sense for anyone keeping their images on their boot drive. The discipline of not spraying folders around the computer implicit in Kelby's suggestion is one practiced by most folk who are conversant with computers.

    Even so, after the fact, one can get to this state easily enough by adding a folder at whichever level holds the rest of the collection of images and then, in the Folders panel of LR (which you can think of as the LR catalogue's Known Universe), move whichever folders appear in the catalogue into the new folder. As tedious as working within the single Folders Panel is, it still would be far less burdensome than doing all the file manipulation at the OS level and then helping LR find all those folders and files that are no longer where they were the last time LR put them down ("WT*, I know I left a perfectly good file here!"). There should be no need to build a new catalog.

    In my case, a couple of weeks ago I went from a 750Gb drive to a 2Tb drive and, aside from pointing LR to the new drive, it was a painless process. The dedicated hard drive is, in essence, a single folder. And now, with smart previews (LR5), if I were to consolidate all my LR activities to a laptop, I would be able to be disconnected from the hard drive and still edit files.

  19. #19
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    I have them all on an external HDD.
    I do now use external HDDs for pictures, when it fills up; buy another.
    If the computer fails, or you just upgrade, you don't have the hassle of getting them all off an internally mounted HDD.

    ~ and most ~ are in folders that are dated or have titles such as "Pet Photography" then sub folders with the name of each animal.
    I tried this approach once, I found that doing it like this caused problems, here are a couple of scenarios;
    You have a picture of two pets and don't know which folder to put it in - or find it in, later
    This gets worse the more pets you have (we had as many as 6 at one time - think of the combinations of pet names needed!).

    Same goes for family members, don't try to put them in separate folders.

    Problems for group shots are obvious, even if all in a Family folder, but now imagine you have a picture of a family member with a pet - where does that go?

    See what I mean?
    It gets worse still if you attempt to use a hierarchical multi-level folder tree - you're forever going up and down 3 levels


    Keywords, stored in metadata, in the files, will work much better, since you add as many or as few as you need, and many programs should be able to access and filter on them.

    Well that's the theory

    Personally, I use a flat folder structure administered by Nikon ViewNX, which I still use to import from the memory cards; all at one level below the single "Nikon_Downloads" master folder, named with a sequential number, followed by a code for which camera shot them with and the event or place name of shooting. I find I generally remember where I was and which camera I used when trying to find a file - as I haven't used keywords religiously enough

    Recommendations on How to Organize Photos 334_ (no letter) = D5000, 332P_ = Nikon P510, 346_D_ = Nikon D7100

    Then I delete the duffers and rate the keepers with 1 - 4 stars, then I filter on those to make a small choice for the ones I finally Post Process.

    Well, it works for me at the moment - in an ideal world, I might cull the duffers on the memory card, or at least, not bother to import them in the first place, but NikonTransfer/ViewNX doesn't allow that level of review, all you get are thumbnails that aren't big enough to check focus on.

    So perhaps if CS6 Bridge allows that, I should change too. (I don't have LR)
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 1st July 2013 at 08:48 PM. Reason: added image as I'd made a bad job explaining

  20. #20
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    Re: Recommendations on How to Organize Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    Thank you Terri,
    I am currently working my way through the tutorials of Hal Schmidt which I like...
    Christina, I also have been working my way through Hal Schmidt's tutorials on Lightroom. I've started using his approach. The one thing I do a bit differently is that when downloading from the camera's memory card, I simply copy the images to a new (dated) folder/directory with Windows Explorer. These dated folders are in a larger folder called "Canon Dumps". I also then do a backup of the new dump directory to an external hard drive. This gets the photos quickly out of the camera.

    When I have time I then import the images with Lightroom into a permanent folder structure much as suggested by Schmidt. Once that's happened and the imported photos are also backed up to the external HD, the relevant dump folder can be deleted -- not that I've done much deleting yet.
    Last edited by Cantab; 1st July 2013 at 08:55 PM.

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