Which folder organization method do you use for your photography?
/forum/topic/1161109/0



Lunatique
Registered: Jul 11, 2003
Total Posts: 931
Country: United States

I've been wondering if I should change the way I organize my photos/videos, and I'd like to know how you guys do it, and see if there are more efficient ways.

Currently, I organize my photos and videos first by camera, then topic, then date/session. The folder hierarchy structure looks like this:

5D Marklll
---Pro Gigs
------Products
----------2011-11-24 [S&L Jewelry Design]
---Food
----------2010-08-19 [MK Restaurant Menu]
---Travels
------Asia
----------Singapore
---------------2012-05-24 [Zoo & Dinner]
---------------2012-05-26 [Amusement Park]

Lumix LX5
---At Home
--------Elena
-------------2012-04-25 [Red Dress]
-------------2012-05-03 [Playing Wii Sports]
---Travels
-------Asia
-----------Singapore
---------------2012-05-23 [Airport]
---------------2012-05-26 [Amusement Park]

iPhone 4
---At Home
-------Elena
-----------2012-04-27 [Cooking]
-----------2012-05-03 [Playing Wii Sports]
---Travels
------Asia
----------Singapore
---------------2012-05-23 [Airport]
---------------2012-05-27 [Subway Ride]

As you can see, whenever I have multiple cameras shooting the same day/session, the folders for that date/session is store in the shooting camera's own directory. This makes it a bit more confusing to find all the photos shot on that day/session.

Photos and videos are not mixed together. Photos and videos both have their own directory hierarchy, like this:

Photography
----Name of Camera
--------At Home
------------Elena
----------------Date [Name of Session]
--------Travels
------------Location
----------------Date [Name of Session]

Videos
----Name of Camera
--------At Home
------------Elena
----------------Date [Name of Session]
--------Travels
------------Location
----------------Date [Name of Session]

I'm now wondering if I should switch to a folder structure that is first listed by topic, then date/session, and then by camera. I think photos and videos should still be separated though, otherwise it'll far too hard to find specific videos, as often you don't shoot both videos and photos during the same day/session. The new structure would
look something like this:

At Home
----Elena
--------2012-04-25 [Red Dress]
-------------Lumix 5
--------2012-04-27 [Cooking]
-------------iPhone 4
--------2012-05-03 [Playing Wii Sports]
------------iPhone 4
------------Lumix 5
Travels
---Asia
-------Singapore
------------2012-05-23 [Airport]
----------------iPhone4
----------------Lumix 5
------------2012-05-24 [Zoo & Dinner]
----------------5D Mark lll
------------2012-05-26 [Amusement Park]
----------------5D Mark lll
----------------Lumix 5
------------2012-05-27 [Subway Ride]
----------------iPhone 4

And videos will maintain the same structure, except in its own directory.

The only drawback I can think of when using this kind of topic-based structure, is that it's no longer possible to easily browse the photo and videos by camera, and I'd have to go through all the dates/sessions to find just the photos and videos shot with a particular camera. But I suppose it's not really important to browse them by camera, as in the grand scheme of things, when photography/video is part of your life, it's the topics of your life that's the main structure, not which camera you shot with.

The other consideration, is that I don't usually shoot the same date/session with more than one camera, or with both photos and videos, since I can pretty much tell which camera/format I was going to use the moment I decide I wanted to shoot something. It's really during traveling that I tend to shoot with different cameras/formats on the same day/session, since when out and about, it's more chaotic and sometimes I just want to snap a few quick photos or a video with the iPhone instead of taking another camera out of its bag/pouch, take off the lens cap, turn it on, and then shoot. The iPhone is always in my pocket and always ready to shoot, but its image quality isn't as good, so I end up taking out a camera anyway later to continue shooting stuff that the iPhone would have trouble capturing.

So, what kind of organizational structure do you guys use for your photos and videos? Any advice or thoughts?



jcolwell
Registered: Feb 10, 2005
Total Posts: 21546
Country: Canada

My archive file structure uses datestamp folder names, with different 'a', 'b', etc. sub-folders for each card downloaded (see first image). My processed file structure uses a combination of datestamps plus descriptive words, and all of the image files use date-timestamp filenames (second image).

I often shoot with two and sometimes three cameras. When I'm thinking straight before a shoot, I always synchronize all of the cameras. During processing (with the 'keepers') I use Bridge to rename all camera-named files to date-timestamp-named files. This makes it easy to sort them in the right sequence, as that information is provided by the file name itself.



mitesh
Registered: Jun 28, 2005
Total Posts: 4009
Country: United States

Hey Rob,

I organize my folders much like the way Jim does his. I find it to be good for archival, but for searching for and quickly retrieving images that meet specific criteria, like those shot on a particular date with a particular camera featuring a particular individual, may I suggest using keyword tagging and smart folders (assuming you use some sort of software like iPhoto)?

Mitesh



cwebster
Registered: Oct 03, 2005
Total Posts: 3425
Country: United States

I suggest reading Peter Krough's "The DAM Book - Digital Asset Management for Photographers" for lots of great info on file organization and retrieval.

<Chas>



Lunatique
Registered: Jul 11, 2003
Total Posts: 931
Country: United States

Thanks for sharing your tips.

I try not to use commercial software dependent tagging/sorting methods, such as the ones in ACDSee Pro (which is my go-to image browser), because I find that they often need to write meta data into the files or into a database file, and if my computer dies unexpectedly and I had to reinstall the OS, I'd lose all that hard work. I can try and backup the meta-data regularly, but that's just one more step added to my process, and I'd like to simplify instead of complicate. By organizing with only the file directory/naming, as long as the hard drive partition containing the photos is still functioning, I will always have all my organization intact.



alohadave
Registered: Jul 26, 2005
Total Posts: 843
Country: United States

I'm not a fan of using date folders. I can never remember what the date is today, let alone what day last year I shot something in particular. I use categories.

If I need to know what date something was shot, the metadata and file properties will tell me. But, I will remember places and people that I've shot, so the more granular I can make the folder structure, the better.

But, I also use keywords in LR for when things have multiple classifications. Like for a portrait shoot, I'd put the files in my client work folders, but use keywords for where the shoot took place, and keywords for the person's name.

I use the folders as kind of a backup for if I do need to use another app, or I want to find some files manually without using LR. I know how I like to file things, so if I did need to rebuild my metadata, I could without too much trouble.



Caleb Williams
Registered: Dec 05, 2006
Total Posts: 2617
Country: United States

I shoot a lot of sports, so I have a code for the home team and the away team that works with the reseller database.

For instance:

Photos (Main directory where I store all photos until they are archived).
-121001-ABCD-EFGH-M <-This is one shoot.
--SID <- These are color corrected files going to an SID or the client (could be named different and are usually sent the day of the shoot.
--Web <- Gallery of web-sized photos.
--Fulls <- Galleries of SOOC full-sized selections
---Processed or Corrected <- in ACR or Photoshop files.

Depending on the shoot, it might be something like this:
-121001-AUGS-UST-M <- This is a shoot that happened on Oct. 10, 2012 between Augsburg College and the University of St. Thomas where the home team was Augsburg and the sex of the competitors was male (only needed in sports where male and female play the sports, for instance men's and women's basketball, gymnastics, swimming, vs. football, volleyball (no men's vball in my area), softball, baseball, etc.)
--Proofs <- Proofs for instant upload to reseller for sales, currently 1500px on the long end. SOOC
--Fulls <- Full-sized files to submitted the reseller for prints to be made from. SOOC
--SID <- If I sent files to the Sports Information Director, it would go here. Color Corrected/Cropped, etc.

Each file is numbered 121001-ABCD-EFGH-M-xxxx.jpg, etc.

Other shoot are different, depending on who I'm shooting for.