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Weekly Photo Tip – File naming/organizing

March 2nd, 2010

A common headache for photographers getting started with digital photography is keeping their images organized; if left untouched, images can get lost in the shuffle very quickly. The key to keeping images organized is to come up with your own naming structure for your images and folders. In this post, I am going to explain my process of keeping images organized.

Organization method

The goal is to have all of your images named in a way that if they are all put into a single folder together, they would all be in order by the date they were taken. Same for all of the folders we keep the photos in.  Often, your camera will come with a photo editing software you can use in taking your photos off of your memory card and onto your computer.  You can also use Apple’s iPhoto, Windows Live Photo Gallery, or for more advance photographers, Apple’s Aperture or Adobe’s Lightroom.

If you use a program such as Camera Bit’s Photo Mechanic to download your images, you can use this in your naming window:
{iptcyear2}{iptcmonth0}{iptcday0}_YourEventName_{seqn}   =   100302_YourEventName_001
{iptcyear4}{iptcmonth0}{iptcday0}_YourEventName_{seqn}   =   20100302_YourEventName_001

It is also important to keep your images similarly organized in the program you may use to organize your images such as Apple’s Aperture, Adobe’s Lightroom or any other program that may be provided in your camera’s software.  Below is how I keep my Aperture library organized.

Aperture Library Organization

10 Responses

  1. Rob says:

    It really is the little things that count (and kill). Organization like this saves a lot of time and frustration for the photographer and for the client; and ultimately it means a happier business relationship. Great tip, Casey. Thanks.

  2. Tyler Henderson says:

    I’ve always wanted to see how you organize your photos. Thanks so much for the tip, you rock as always

  3. Thanks for the post, sir!

  4. Thanks as always – next week can your tip be “how to be awesome” ? On another note – two questions 1) when you archive images (from a few years back) do you save both RAWS and jpegs or just one of the two? 2) Something I dont understand – when you make edits to a RAW file in a program, do you then export those images as RAW to always have the RAW file with edits made or does the edited version of that RAW only live on within your editing program (Lightroom or Aperature)? I hope this makes sense. Thanks Case!

  5. Mark K says:

    Great tips, Casey! My own organization is almost identical to yours. One thing I do differently in Aperture 3 now is to reverse the chronology. I prefer having the more recent years on top and older years at the bottom of my library panel so I don’t have to scroll down. I do the same thing for each month and each project. This was a pain to re-organize when I first upgraded to Aperture 3, but once it’s initially setup, it’s easy to maintain when I import and create new projects.

  6. Chris Beaudin says:

    This definitely makes much more sense. As my photo log continues to grow I’ve been playing with different methods for organizing but breaking it down like this, though with some up front effort will help me so much in the long run. Thanks Casey

    +Aperture Rocks

  7. Georgia says:

    Very helpful. Thanks for the post!


  8. […] by Thomas Boyd 0 commentsI checked on Casey Templeton’s blog today and found a great entry on file naming and organizing digital images. Check it out if only to see his outstanding work. Here’s what Casey says, […]

  9. Molly says:

    SO Thankful for this post – especially after just learning my way around macs. Thanks!

  10. Useful ideas. The task of keeping a burgeoning library of photographs properly organized is a perennial problem. Thanks for the post. P

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