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Organising large photo collection

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Organising large photo collection

I have a large photo collection (10's of thousands photos) which I need to organize better so I can search it more efficiently. I have been way too lazy to add keywords to my photos.

I'm using Capture One Pro but keep to COP files in the same folder as the photos.

My folder structure is drive:/photos/year/date taken/

Can I use COP to organize without changing folder structure?

Should I use another software for this task?

Sep 04, 2023 at 06:36 PM
Abbott Schindl
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Organising large photo collection

It sounds like you’re using a referenced library (as opposed to your photos being stored within the Capture One catalog), which is helpful. You have at least 2 options:

1. From within Capture One, drag your photos to the destination you want. That will move the actual files and Capture One will warn you that the operation can’t be undone (you’ll have to actually move the files again if you goof or change your mind).

2. Use Albums. Album organization is independent of your on-disk file structure.

I’ve organized my C1 library to match my on-disk folder structure simply by having C1 add the folders and then Synchronize. When I add images to my library, I import into a “holding” folder where I add metadata, and then I drag the images to the folder where I want them permanently stored.

The most important thing to remember is to do all file movement from within Capture One and NOT from the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer.

Sep 04, 2023 at 10:15 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Organising large photo collection

The key to effective searching is metadata, which means captions, keywords, and filenames. Of course it's much easier to do this at the time the photos are made, but it's possible to catch up.

First, figure out a set of keywords that will work well with your collection, and that will make sense when searching it. Then, start right now and apply those keywords to every new photo that you shoot from now on. Then you can go back and start applying those keywords to previous folders of images. It's a laborious process, but you know that going in.

My favorite keywording app is Photo Mechanic, using the Structured Keywords panel. Once you get it set up, it's easy and fast to use. Has a bit of a learning curve, but for tens of thousands of photos it's what I would use.

You might also think about a standard file naming convention, something that provides information about the photo and also can't be duplicated on a different photo. I use YYYYMMDDxxxxx1234.sfx where YYYYMMDD is the shoot date, year first, xxxxx is a short description of the photo (person's name, location, whatever), and 1234.sfx is a sequence or the in-camera frame number plus the suffix for the type of file, .jpg or .cr2 or .nef.

Good luck, this is worthwhile in the long run.

Sep 06, 2023 at 09:30 AM
TJ Asher
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Organising large photo collection

You do not say if you are on Mac or PC. I'm on Mac.

I have settled on NeoFinder for the time being as my cataloging software. I was using Media Pro, but that cannot handle Canon's new .CR3 raw file format as it was developed so long ago.

I do like some of the stuff in PhotoMechanic, but it is considerably more expensive than NeoFinder. I found the performance when displaying thumbnails on my system lacking compared to NeoFinder. PhotoMechanic seems to read the files each time to build the thumbnail on the fly whereas NeoFinder creates and stores a thumbnail.

Both have keywording abilities and both allow adding keywords to multiple files at once and can limit the keywords to existing entries so you don't accidentally type garbage keywords.

As Ken stated, establishing keywords/categories that work for your images is key. Pun intended. :-)


Jan 08, 2024 at 11:23 PM

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