Storing all those images…

Why is the way you work important? Surely its about taking great photos for people to admire however you get the picture out of your camera and on display. We all want to spend as much time as we can taking photos and as little as possible stuck at a computer searching for ‘that picture’ you know you have taken.

Organisation is they key, where do you keep all your photos, how you organise them, and how you can find them again when you want them. Its a personal thing how you store your photos, some like to file each shoot in a named folder, some like to store them by the date they were taken or uploaded. I am a firm believer in the latter, I store all my original files in a folder tree structured by date.

Folder TreeI have a top folder called Negatives, then within that folder I have a folder for each year, within that folder one for each month, and finally within each month there is a folder with the capture date which is created when I import my photos from the card or camera. I find this the easiest way to store all my digital negatives, I create the month folders by hand, and number them so they display in order in the browser window rather than alphabetically. When I import my files from the card I have my software (Lightroom) import into this years folder, and it automatically creates a folder with the date each photo was taken on.. I know they are outside of the monthly folder, but I do this so I can tag all my raw files from a days shoot then move them into the month folder. This way I know that I have applied keywords to all the images.

One of the reasons I use this method rather than using folder names for each batch of photos, is that this can be achieved in Lightroom using keywords and groups. You could also end up with multiple folders with very similar names such as Holiday, Party, Wedding etc. which can become confusing.

Even if we have all out photos on a computer organised in some fashion it can still be hard to find the pictures or event you want, without having to go through hundreds of tiny preview images. This is where meta-data comes into play, not only the meta-data that your camera stores with every file, but the information that you add to the files. I use Adobe Lightroom to manage my photos, as I find this an excellent tool for organising and cataloguing my pictures, but I guess every other package does the same basic things. You can add keywords to an image to name subjects, people or places, you can give an image a star rating. All these things make it easier to find an image at a later date. Yes it takes time to go through all you pictures that you just imported, but it saves much more time in the long run. Once you have this information stored along with the files you can search for it too. For example you could search for all images tagged with ‘Dave’ and ‘drunk’ for all drunken Dave pictures you might have, or you could search for all 5 star wildlife photos you have.

That is my basic first step in my workflow, getting images from the camera to an organised place on the computer. I will post another article dealing more with meta-data and Lightroom at a later date.


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