How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: How Do You Manage and Organize Your Photos?

The advent of digital cameras ushered in an age where you can snap nearly unlimited photos–gone are the days of simple box and album storage. How do you manage and organize your growing photo collection?

Wallpaper image available here.

This week we’re interested in hearing how you keep control over your photo collection. When it’s possible to take 2,000+ vacation photos and easy to snap a few dozen pictures just goofing off after work, how do you go about managing, sorting, and organizing everything?

Whether you use an application suite, a handful of batch scripts, or manual management, we want to hear about it. Sounds off in the comments with your photo organizing methods, tips, and tricks, then be sure to check back in on Friday for the What You Said roundup.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/25/11

Comments (137)

  1. Hatryst

    Folders :(
    Waiting for the answers…

  2. Kieran

    folders on my portable hardrive :D its epic

  3. Howard

    I am simple …. I use Picassa and Faststone

  4. Pat OBrien

    I do professional photography, so I have it split out slightly. I have a root folder called “Master Photo Library”, then it splits out from there.

    If it’s for my own personal photography, then I have it go into “\Personal\YYYY\MM – MONTH\MMDD – Project Name”


    YYYY is the year
    MM – Month is like 01 – January,
    MMDD – Project Name is like 0101 – Boston

    If it is business, then back to Master Photo Library, then;

    \Clients and Events\YYYY\CLIENT NAME\MMDD – Event Name


    YYYY is the year
    CLIENT NAME is the client’s name, like Joe and Jane Smith
    MMDD – Event Name is the month and day, like 0508 – Engagement Shoot

  5. Richtpt

    On my hard drive, I have a folder for each year. Then in there are folders for each day the photos were taken. Sometimes I add a description with the folder when they are all of a specific event, other times it’s just the date. And the date is in YYMMDD format, like 110525. That way they will sort correctly.

    I also import them all into Lightroom and tag them. Then when I need to find a photo or group of photos, it’s very easy.

    I also backup my photos to two external hd’s.

  6. Jason

    Folders in a storage pool (Greyhole). After taking a photo in RAW format, I process it (using DxO), then save both the RAW image and the JPEG to the folders.

  7. Twalorn

    I am currently using a 4 main folder system,

    *Events <– main events that are good reason for picture time
    *Girlfriend <– this is personal and helps organize our photos
    *Occasional pictures <– say @work for no reason photos, cellphone pics, random pics
    *Non camera related <– wallpapers, snapshots, scans

    The names may vary but the do help to their purpose. Inside each folder i use a "YYMMDD – TOPIC/EVENT/DESCRIPTION" format to the folder names containing the photos.

    Ohh and another detail, i include camera/phone taken videos among the corresponding pictures. I believe it's no use having the videos on a separate general folder since most are taken along pictures for planned or random events, don't you think?

    Right now i only have my pictures stored on a safe external general purpose HD but i´m looking for a second smaller one to back up the important stuff (pics/docs/music)

  8. Ari

    I use Picasa web to store and share my pics online. Now my picasa free 1Gb limit is almost full, After a few research i found that in Windows Skydrive we get 25Gb free limit. So next am going to use that for storing and sharing my pics

    Apart from saving pics online i keep a back up in my Portable Hard drive too. If i have any real good pics i’ll upload that to my photo blog(

    I have more than 10,000 pics in my Picasa account. I have many hobbies, Photography is my favorite.

  9. EOB

    I’m similar to Pat O’Brien in that I have a master “Photos” folder.

    The next level down there is a folder for each year in 4 character format 2001, 2002, 2003 etc.

    Within each year folder is a folder for each month, 01-January, 02-February, etc.

    Here’s where I vary, and it’s probably because I’m not a pro and may only have one or two sets of photos per month. Within each month folder I wing it. Sometimes I dump loose photos in there if it was an off the cuff shoot or practice shots. If it was a specific even I name the folder “Disney Trip” or something to that effect.

    I want to keep my filing system as software and OS independent as possible so in the future I can switch systems without having to deal with conversions. That’s one reason I dislike iPhoto. It wants to import everything into it’s library structure, and trying to work against that is painful.

  10. Zamo

    Organized in folders, YYYY-MM-DD , viewed in ACD See Pro (still unbeatable quick view performance), edited in Photoshop and (eventually) processed with NX Capture.

  11. Rohugh

    Picasa, any editing with GIMP.

  12. Andrew

    Folders are sorted by year, month, and then day. Pictures older than a year are compressed down.

    I wrote a script that automates all of that by reading the meta data in the picture. It’s easier than going through each picture and deciding what to keep.

  13. Andy

    Picasa is about all I use.

    Irfanview once in a while.

  14. Brodiemac

    I really used to be anal about my pictures. They were all put into folders YYYY-MM. Will so many of these modern programs that can sort them for you according to the metadata of the pictures themselves, I really don’t care anymore.

  15. Megagamerx1

    For users of Linux, I would recommend Shotwell, which comes default with Ubuntu. It works nice, and can easily store you picture on external media, or a Dropbox\Ubuntu One folder for online backup. It can import an existing picture folder structure, or automatically rearrange all your pictures into a format you choose, by default Year/Month/Event (Day). It supports movie import, but the version on Ubuntu Maverick (10.10) is out of date, thus lacking the feature. You can get the update version by adding the PPA, though. Also, it can upload to Facebook, Youtube, Picasa, and Flickr directly, again, assuming that you are using the latest version.

    I would recommend it to anyone, because it’s really flexible and is just awesome.

  16. Rajarajan Rajamani

    After shooting, the images are imported into Adobe Lightroom where I tag/crop/tweak/cull them and then export the post processed ones into a separate folder which is used the post to Facebook and/or Picasa. The photos exported by Lightroom usually have a YYYYMMDD- format to avoid confusion as the camera numbering for images rolls over after some time. In addition I import this same directory into Gallery2 on my FreeBSD home machine which serves as a web enabled repository for all my photos.
    Though I have a folder hierarchy for storing images, I ensure that the photos EXIF headers are tagged properly for easy searches (using lightroom or gallery).

  17. Wayne

    Have always been bad about organizing photos and images. Currently use a melange of folders that seem to have little meaning on my hard drive. Looking for more useful but semi-automated ways of handling them.

    Would like to manage them more on my iPad but haven’t found a solution to do this easily enough with a Windows 7 PC. Also thinking about purchasing an EyeFi ( card for my camera so that images can be uploaded automatically without messing with cables.

  18. Mark

    I use one main folder titled Digital Photos and then break it down into year, month, and day. All of my photos (I shoot RAW only) are imported and cataloged through Lightroom then processed either entirely in LR or in CS5. Adobe Lightroom gives you a quick view snap shot of each folders content when you mouse-over. Personally, that’s all I usually need to see in order to remind me what I shot that day. But here’s the best “pro tip” I can give any of you who truly treasure your photos.. back up your photos to an external hard drive or to an online storage site, and do it religiously. Trying to retrieve precious memories of your past from a corrupted hard drive, even with today’s sophisticated technology, can be heart wrenching.

  19. Carol Thompson

    I do the same as Pat OBrien except the first thing I do is delete anything not in focus or anyone who looks awful, i.e. not looking at the camera, cheeks full of food, horizon tilted, you get the idea. Digital is too easy to take too many pix so delete, delete, delete is important.

  20. Andy

    We (my wife and I) have roughly 4.8 bajillion photos. I manage everything through iPhoto on my computer, and just shared the folder with her computer (so that we both have access to the photos without duplicating anything. Also: time machine backups!).

    I’m getting frustrated with iPhoto’s slowness with that large of a library. I’ve tried Picasa, which works… ok. I end up spending too much time managing them, especially the face detection. It doesn’t seem to be much faster, either.

  21. Steve

    1) Create folder structure
    |___ 2011-05-11 pretty pretty butterflys

    2) After dumping them in the folder, rename each pic using Rename Master. (easy and quick)

    3) pick through them and delete as needed.

    4) Copy to network share

    5) Copy to external USB

    6) Delete local copy

  22. bemental

    We used to use iPhoto and similar solutions, but I’ve since been moving away from programs that use their own properity libraries. Libraries have a tendency of going corrupt, hence data loss, etc.

    Depending on the number of photos and home movies you have, this may or may not work for you:

    Standard file system folder hierarchy synced with Dropbox. Picasa to edit and touch up.

    My wife does a lot of photo work in photoshop and uses a DSLR and she uses a folder-based system as well, backed up with a Time Capsule and a different, larger online backup service.

  23. scoobertron

    raws go into subfolders of one folder, named by date and (optionally) description. processed photos go into another ‘albums’ folder also sorted by date and event. rsync mirrors everything to my server for displaying on my tv. (and of course everything is backed up multiple times)

  24. bemental

    I’ve seen some comments regarding photo renaming and large database sizes slowing down editing programs.

    We use a pay program NameMangler on our Macs, super great and worth the pennies.

    Regarding slow libraries, this works especially well: don’t load your entire library (i.e. Picasa). Have Picasa monitor one folder, call it something slick like @editing and place it in your main photo folders, drag and drop, edit, and move them back.

    Just an idea.

  25. KB Prez

    I create folders in Windows “Pictures” library. The folders are generally named after family, friends, prominent figures, and particular events. I use FastStone for organizing and viewing my collection. I have a Clickfree device for backup. I also use WinZip to back everything up to an external drive and Carbonite for online storage.

  26. Aaron

    Everything is on Flickr and organized into sets. I also have the same photos, and ones too personal or not good enough say in My Pictures.

  27. Octavio

    I create folders (family, friends, personal, business, etc.) in a separate partition, that way I can access it with Windows and Ubuntu. Every week or so I synchronize those folders to a USB drive for backup purposes.

  28. Marcus

    Photographer here as well. Break my main photos folder down by year (2011, 2010, 2009, etc).

    Inside each year dir, broken down by day and event, eg “2011-05-25 – Smith Wedding”.

    Everything goes into Lightroom for tagging and cataloging after that.

  29. Jennifer

    I organize my photo folder via “month year” and then subfolders by event. When I want to quickly browse through my photos I use picasa. I also use that to share albums with friends and family. Most editing is done in photoshop. If I do edit in picasa, I make the change, save as new file and then undo those changes.

  30. Mark

    I have my pictures placed into folder on a PC. The folders are organized by subject matter name then by date.

    When you are looking for photos, for the most part, I find that your brain is searching for a subject Flowers, then a specific date based on that subject, not pictures that I had taken in December 2010.

    Just my 2 cents.

  31. Matt W

    Similar to others – folders
    sub: YYYY-MM-DD – maybe a short event name

    I usually do at least one run through and delete bad ones, pick the best of multiple of same subject, etc.
    Editing, when needed, is done with Photoshop.
    I backup in-house to networked drive and off-site using Crash Plan.

  32. Mark

    I was once burned by a photo organizing/editing program that stuffed all my photos into a filing system that only it understood. If I was looking for a pic I shot of my kids at the beach three years ago, it could easily be grouped into a folder with christmas pics from six years ago and a pic of my dog from yesterday. So, I ditched that program and downloaded Picasa and love it.

    However, I set up my own filing system based on the date the photo was taken. Each folder gets a YYYY-MM name. I almost never use sub-folders in my photos. That way they always line up chronologically in the filing system if I’m looking for a photo and don’t feel like starting up Picasa, which is very slow (my only gripe). I let tags and other Picasa features do all the rest of the organizing I need. I do have a handful of special folders, such as one for downloaded artwork, one for documents that I have scanned and one for old family photos that I’ve scanned that I can’t always date accurately. My most important premise is to keep it simple.

  33. jim


  34. Kumar

    I don’t spend time organising pictures. I just keep it all under one master folder.

  35. MFR

    For photographs (as opposed to graphics and such) I organize by year, then month. If there was a specific event (concert, etc) it gets a folder within the month it took place.

  36. ciprianxl

    I have a root folder named Pictures . In that folder i have Folders with years from 2005 to 2011 , in each year folder i have Months folders from January to February. And in some cases in months folders i have some days folders. So .. the folder of today is D:/pictures/2011/May/
    For viewing i use Faststone .

  37. gesti

    It would be heart breaking to loose all my pictures just from a silly power surge. Now days everyone takes pictures about family events and stores them digitally. Unfortunately to store them on one HDD in one folder means that that your grandkids will not be able to enjoy them, cos’ somewhere in the future you gonna have a power surge or a HDD failure or just the simple accidental deletion by your son/daughter, that you notice too late or won’t notice at all.

    I’m really serious when it gets to the safety of my pictures.
    I have two HDDs on RAID1 (mirroring). Once in a month I also sync with an external HDD. The external HDD comes with me on holidays – just in case someone would break in the house and steal my PC.

    My filing system as follows:
    for RAW files d:/Pictures/YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD/YYYYMMDD-[random number].RAW
    for JPEGs d:/Pictures/YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD/JPEG/YYYYMMDD-[random number].JPEG
    for PS files d:/Pictures/YYYY/YYYY-MM-DD/PSD/YYYYMMDD-[random number].PSD

    I use Adobe Bridge to give keywords to pictures so later they can be looked up by content. And last some times I upload the better ones to FlickR ( )

  38. sidiiq2006


  39. LASERman

    OMG those complicated procedures, naming rules etc.
    I guess this survey it’s for all of you poor PC users ;) no offence.

    My answer is simple: iPhoto + Time Machine backup = iLife

  40. rctneil

    Last year I decided to tidy up all my photos as it was becoming a disorganised mess. I looked at Picasa but the searching and filtering options were not what I was after. You also couldn;t add multi word keywords to photos.

    I then came across Lightroom, I’m not a professional photographer but Lightroom is an excellent application even for someone who only uses it for organising their photos and cataloging them.

    I ahve a master Photographs folder and then organise them all inside that within Lightroom. All photo’s also get keyworded.

  41. Fitikai

    For storage:

    – Photo
    – 2009
    – 2010
    – 2011
    – Raw (from digital camera)
    – Fuji S5
    – Sony Nex-3
    – Panasonic FT2
    – …
    – Scan (from film scan)
    – 01
    – 02
    – …
    – Output (edited pictures)
    – 2010
    – 2011
    – Event A
    – Event B
    – …

    For organizing:
    – Adobe Lightroom

    – Raid 1 + external harddrive

  42. Jeremy

    I use a file renaming utility (siren) to rename all photos as YYYYMMDD – HHMMSS based on the exif date taken data. Then I sort the into folders using this format YYYY\M# – MMMMMM\

    So folders look like this:
    20111 – January\
    20112 – February\

    The numbers at the front keep them in proper date order, but the spelled out months are easier for my wife and I to see at a glance when looking for things.

    Interesting that even the pro photographers and geeks here are using just a folder-based system. How is there not a better solution that allows you to organize and tag photos?

    And of course I DON’T mean some proprietary garbage that most of us are smart enough to avoid (considering all our work disappears as soon as the company does).

  43. Aakash

    According to me, the best way to save your photosand manage them is by uploading on FACEBOOK or any social networking site this well also helps you to acces them form any corner of the world and by tagging the person in it you can recollect the person even wehn you see your pictures after a decade you can even decide to whomyou want revile your pictures to.

  44. Jami

    I use manual folder management based on the day or event, but I have to admit there are a lot of pictures not organized at all! :/

  45. Frank

    I use generic folders i.e. My Family, My Wife’s Family, Pets, Cars, Vacations, Misc. Picasa keeps it all sorted for me…

  46. jimkiler

    Like others I use one main folder then separated by year. Then separated by either month or event. Some photos are too few to warrant their own folder which is what the monthly photos are for, a dumping ground.

    I also label each month/event numerically, i.e.
    01 – January,
    02 – February,
    03 – Valentine’s Day
    that way when I go to make backups I can easily know what is the newest folder and not already backed up.

    Also Inside the month/event is a sub folder for the RAW files.

    I received Power2Go software with my BD burner which will automatically split the photos over several discs when making backups. Picassa does this as well but is not as refined.

  47. Phil

    old school – at the beginning of each year I create a ‘year’ folder, in that 12 ‘month’ folders, then if needed, ‘event’ or ‘subject’ folders (if there are enough photographs to warrant). I rarely rename photos, but in minutes (sometimes seconds) I can usually find almost anything I’ve shot in the past 12 years.

  48. Phil

    to clarify, the ‘event’ or ‘subject’ folders are in the appropriate ‘month’ folders

  49. MargaretC

    I use Picasa for folder managment, editing and collage making. Also Web Albums.

  50. mark

    I put all of my pictures on a partition in Ubuntu Server in a separate folder for each event. For Windows, I use Picasa as the front end. For Ubuntu Desktop, it’s Shotwell. For OpenSuse, I think it’s F-Spot (haven’t used OpenSuse in a while).

    For editing, I’ll use Photoshop or GIMP>

    For slideshows, I use Irfanview.

  51. SamRoseDotMe

    I use several different iPhoto libraries on external hard drives and my computer.. I then use iPhoto Library Manager to switch between libraries.

  52. Greg Zabek

    I use iPhoto but am in the process of moving to Aperture. But prior to importing to iPhoto I import using Nikon Transfer to a Nikon Pictures folder. We have 4 Nikon cameras in the house so all use that transfer app. The benefit is that we have a failsafe backup folder but more importantly I can use “A better finder rename” to change the file names to something more descriptive.

  53. Bob

    I manage my photos by downloading them to folders I set up in Windows Explorer, usually based on year, month, and what I was shooting (birthday, grandkid’s soccer game, etc.. I use Photoshop, so I view the photos in Photoshop Bridge.

  54. Scott

    I still use the Olympus Master photo management app, to rename all my files and then organize them by event, by year using Windows folders. It’s definitely not an efficient way to organize the files, but I never seem to find metadata between photo apps. They all seem to write unique metadata and the comments and keywords from one app cannot be seen in another app.

    Really hoping people have some better suggestions and recommendations!

  55. Autumn

    I am not a fan of using applications, but do rely on online albums for backup storage and accessibility/sharing. I store all originals in folders on my hard drive organized by year, then by project or event name, such as c:\images\2011\2011 Graduation. I then sync with an external hard drive and upload to picasaweb (not using the Picasa app) to albums that have the same name as the folder. When I edit photos, they are stored in a sub “/edits” folder in that folder and the filename stays the same. All filenames are the originals as recorded by the camera. I tried changing filenames over the years. Not doing so is simpler and makes it easier to find photos years down the road. I’ve tried flickr and shutterfly, etc. etc. etc. Picasaweb is the most straightforward and powerful giving me or those I share with the option to choose any print service and also makes it easy to embed albums on my web site. I like simple and I like limiting the number of apps and the boundaries they impose.

  56. Willard

    For my photos, I use folders for the year (2010, 2011 etc). Below are folders in “YYYY-MM-DD event” format, where event might be “Bryce Canyon”. Each picture is labeled the same appended to the front of the camera image number. This is much like others have indicated.

    Here is where I deviate from what others have said. When a photo gets processed in any way (cropped, rotated, brightness etc), I add a note after the image number to indicate what was done. e.g. “YYYY-MM-DD Bryce Canyon 012345.crop rotate.jpg”.

    When I’m using a photo elswhere in a project, it’s name always refers back to the original source image. I can always go back and start over from the unmodified image. The note even indicates roughly what was done to get to the processed image.

    I never modify (or delete) original images. Storage is very cheap today. I have 60,000 photos, I can put ten times that on a drive that fits in my shirt pocket and is accessable from most any OS.

  57. Randy

    I download photos into an old version of PaintShop Photo Album because it has easy cropping and straightening tools. I put the files in folders with Year and date and brief description like /2011/2011-05-26 – Brief Description. Once edited, I may rearrange some of hte photos that makes more sense and then batch rename all the photos with my initials and date like: rlm-2011-05-26-001.jpg.

    I then copy them to a portable 500 GB hard drive and import them into Adobe Photoshop Elements to tag and rate them. Once I get home, I back all the photos up to another external harddrive. Photoshop Elements lets me pull out the photos by any of the hundreds of tags I’ve setup and I can just pull up the 5 star photos or expand to 4 and 5 star.

  58. Wes

    Folders labelled Month Year and then sub folders for ‘special occasions’ (wedding, car show, graduations, etc…). Busy months have multiple sub folders, slow months have none. Just recently started using libraries in Pisaca for themes. I find the program ‘Everything’ is extremely helpful for searching for sub folders, especially when I can’t remember when something occurred.

  59. dana ross

    I’m a professional photographer and I have lots of hard drives full of photos.
    I make folders of the date of the shoot and the subject every time I download. By putting it in year, month, day order it is sortable. 2011-05-25_LAPhilharmonic

    Inside the folder is all the photos. I move the bad shots into a separate folder called Seconds.

    I archive on hard drives and upload files to I send clients a link to their folder on Smugmug.

  60. M. Martindale

    I’ll settle for a good way to kill Picasa’s dupes in all folders. Otherwise, I’m pretty well organized.

  61. Greg

    I organize in folders by year and event on my local server. I also upload full sizes in to same organized folders to Flickr where I also tag each photo. I can search for just about anything and find it. Not to mention I’m fully backed up!

  62. Lampman

    I use Photoshop Elements, dropping all in one catalog with folder names Year Month Day Event name, such as 2011 05 15 Visit to Baltimore. None of that information is as important as the ‘tag’ however. Using multiple tags allows me to find a photo pretty fast.

    I back up the Elements Catalog frequently to a separate partition on my desktop computer and then backup the backup as well as the Windows Pictures folder to an external drive. At some point I will backup up some media that I can put in my safety deposit box. Too much history to lose to a fire or tornado.

  63. Jer Bear

    Folders. Then Sorted and Unsorted – and HDR. Sorted is by year, then by month, etc… Unsorted is just that. HDR keep all my HDR projects, sorted by project! Go figure. I keep everything in RAW – I know – I have a RAID 5, trust me. Then, an external HD for external backup, which is a redundant of my redundant! If the house is on fire, you don’t have time to crack your computer case!

    The pics I work with/share, etc… those I convert to JPEG always using my camera manufacturer’s software. (kicks Adobe and Picasa’s conversion to the curb). I then use a combo attack of Picasa and Adobe Elements. I have some major complaints about Picasa’s album abilities, so I use Adobe to catalog, but Picasa to find and name people. The free app does that better?! However, if Adobe doesn’t step things up regarding cataloging of photos, … OK, their editing capabilities are still better.

    Oh, and for those of you doing HDR, Photomatrix is great. I’ve not used the Adobe version – so can’t compare them, except for price!

  64. grappler Ulrich

    I arrange my Photos according to camera, year and month
    Nikon D3100/2011/01_January
    All of my Photos renamed on import to the date they were taken. I import all my pictures with Live Photo Gallery
    The special events are named with the date and the event behind. and put in a special folder in that month.

    The rest of my pictures have their own folders. for example my wallpapers has its own folder or the pictures that i am editing.

    To view them all i use picassa

  65. Brandt

    Picasa, Pictures folder, Canon/ SD chip, HP Scanner

  66. jonathan young

    love Picasa. It’s not the most sophisticated program in the world but it’s free, runs fast, rarely has issues, and web upload interface is simple. Basic editing, and excellent for looking at pics.

  67. Ginny

    Adobe’s Lightroom, AND Windows Explorer.

    Having lost a 1TB harddrive and many beloved photos one year, I always always back them up on a second harddrive. If I were smart, I’d put the cream of the crop on CDs which is like archiving your negative..haven’t done it and I’ll probably regret it.

    They are organized chronologically, with subject names only for special shoots or holidays.

    I usually shoot in RAW, so keep the images as they are in the main folder, then process them and export them to a folder named “Processed”. For easy Internet sharing, I make a third folder called “Small” and resize with the Windows Resizer – Power Toys clone tool. There is nothing better! If I have too many to sort, I make even another folder called “Favs” and group my selection in there.

    I upload my favorites to Flickr for easy sharing with my iPhone and have a PBase account with galleries for sharing, too. Facebook is too clumsy to help with organization but I use it as it suits me to share with friends there.

  68. Mary T.

    I manually maintain my photos. I name each photo with who is in them. My rule of thumb is oldest person first with no spaces. i.e. MaryJamesTimothy.

    That way I can search by name and find everyone that I want. I don’t bother with sorting photos by date as I can simply sort by date taken (as long as your camera’s date is set correctly).

    Most of my photos go into a file named “Family Photos” but I set up other ones and the subject dictates.

    I store them on an external hard drive, backed up by another external hard drive.

    I am thinking of burning my 10,000+ photos onto gold discs and putting them in the safe but haven’t gottent here yet.

  69. Adrian

    > Master folder for each year (“Photographs year”)
    > Subfolders in date order (YYYY-MM-DD) + summary name
    > Photos sort themselves out by filename, also I can sort by date taken or any other attribute I wish to switch on in folder view
    > No retitling (unless the event is that unusual that more file-level descriptors are required)
    > Multiple day events have their top folder named YYYY-MM-DD-DD where the datespan means from the first date to the last. This is for holidays, long weekends, etc. The top folder contains subfolders for each successive day, dated in ‘classic’ order

    All odd photos from the year are stacked in that year’s top folder until subsequent sorting/filing takes place; usually not many are left.

    All photos remain in their virgin state – any manipulation is always on copies i.e. colour balancing for printing as all printers – and screens for that matter – have their differences.

    I’m amazed at how many of us file in the same manner with reverse date titling – something some of my colleagues don’t understand much. I was starting to think it was I that was the odd one!





  71. LY Kuchseyla

    I just categorize with resolution size, and in that folders, I make several other folders named by their type. that’s it

  72. mevans7

    iPhoto. I have two libraries, one library with family photos and one library with junk like the roof repair, trimmed trees, etc.

    iPhoto has slowed down with 35,000 photos (yet from google, should be spec’ed for 250,000).

    I put the iPhoto library in a /user/SharedWriteable folder so that my wife can access and update the library from her account.

    Read an article a couple years ago that recommended reviewing (for purge) photos when you put them on the computer, a week later, then a couple months later. (Did I really need 5 nearly identical pics of xyz?)

  73. Jim

    Scanned 4 hours worth into my computer, organized them manually, then lost them all thinking I had saved them to DVD. Not. Did it again and again lost them all. Later dude.

  74. tommy2rs

    I hand them over to the wife (professional graphic artist) and let her take of them. My only job is installing more and bigger hard drives as she fills them up.

  75. Don Ernesto

    i have 1 Pictures Main folder
    then 3 (soon to be only 2) subfolders: Casual, Events and Traveling (will be merging last 2 folders)

    in Ocassional i do subfolders by month in the form “yyyy-mm”
    in Events i do subfolders in the form “yyyy-eventName”

    and use fastStone to watch the pics

    then, i use Picasa to create albums with selected pics, those albums are the special pics that go to my dropbox, to my tablet, to my photo frame, etc……..

  76. SKC

    I mainly save photos for the Family Tree and organise them into folders under “Head of Household name” or “Famly Groups in Common” (For cousins etc) Once a child marries I then create a new “Head of Houshold” folder.

    The photos themselves usually start with YYYYMMDD followed by ‘Family surname’, then ‘Place’, then persons name and then whatever else is of importance.
    e.g. 20101210 ConwayRJ RietvleiFarm Janes birthday cake

    I tend to remember family issues by year of event and this works for me.

  77. Tim K

    I use Lightroom to manage all of my photos with Windoes Home Server to store all of my previous years photos. I have each year bucketed by year and within the year I have individual photo by Year-Month-Day and the title of the event. The current year photos are on my main PC with the same structure. Once the year is over I move the filer over to the Windows Home Server.

    In Lightroom I assign keywords to every photo for easy identification in the future. I also started using an App called Photosmith on my iPad to work on photos if I am away from home (vacation) and don’t have a laptop with me…this allows me to keyword my photos before I get home and then sync to Lightroom.

  78. waltarmour

    I store every digital picture offline on a Western Digital 1TB NTFS hard drive, by date

  79. Andrew Diamond

    I organize all mine by year, and then month manually. Since my wife and I aren’t overly snap-happy, this works fairly well for us.

    At the end of the year, I burn the years worth of shots to CD or DVD, place it in a jewel case, label with a marker, and place it in our fire proof safe :)

  80. Pitttechtk

    I use Picasa

  81. Sai Kishore K.

    Dropbox’s the Guru, not only when it comes to file syncing and file backup, but also to organize and share complete photo albums. But be beware of the in-built ‘Photos’ folder in Dropbox. It is kind of publicly visible to the world. So, I’ve a ‘Photos Root’ folder (which is also, what makes my Picasa Library (Windows) and my Shotwell Library (Ubuntu)) inside a private folder of my Dropbox. From there on, I’ve it organized in folders, for instance:
    [Main Folder: University] >> [Folder 1: Himalayan Trip] | [Folder 2: Sam’s Birthday].

    All my photos, synced and backed up in Dropbox’s servers, trust me, that makes me feel awesome. I rarely do post processing, but if I have to, I do it in Picasa and I don’t need to fret about making some changes final to a photo, only to later find myself worrying that the earlier non-edited version was better. Dropbox’s version control system makes it ‘as-easy-as-licking-a-lollipop’ when it comes to restoring previous versions of files.

    An important part in managing photos is to be able to share photos and also to get those photos, shared by others. Dropbox comes to aid. When it comes to sharing, if it’s Family photos, I would share them normally, since I’ve to share it only with a couple of people. But University photos involve a lot of friends, I share the photos using the ‘Dropbox sharing model’, those who’ve Dropbox can copy the entire folder easily to their Dropbox by a single click, and those who don’t, would download select photos they want, individually, from the simple-yet-sweet looking web gallery interface. Since we all live in the same LAN, and most of us have Dropbox, sharing photos can’t get any smoother.

    I remember when I was very young, in mid-nineties, I used to keep my favorite photo albums in a tin box, and I took great care of it, till today. Dropbox’s my new tin box, when it comes to my digital photos. :)

  82. Michael Williams

    Picasa – meets all of my names. I don’t have tens of thousands of photos, and Picasa’s speed works just fine for me. I also do very little photo editing – the very basic tools in Picasa are enough.

    I do use Irfanview for viewing pics at times, because it loads very quickly. But if I expect to look at many, many photos, I would load Picasa.

    I file the photos in individual folders with the folder name starting with YYYY-MM-DD. Usually I download all the photos off the card from my digital camera, name that folder with the predominant event reflected in that batch of photos, then split off photos from separate events into their own folders.

    Though I don’t use the feature that often, I like that Picasa makes it easy to find all photos of a particular person – particularly useful if you want to see your child grow up right before your eyes…..

    For photos that I scan into my computer, I use the software that came with my Canon multi-function printer, but I have the software set so that the files are automatically saved in a folder and picked up in Picasa. There was a reason why using Picasa for imports from the scanner didn’t work well, but at the moment I don’t remember what it was.

  83. Michael Williams

    that should be “needs”, not names.

    One other thing – I run Windows, and save all of the photos in the “Shared Pictures” folder (subfolders including the date, as mentioned in my previous comment) that’s accessible to all users (me, my spouse and our son). I pretty much never have a photo that I’m not comfortable with my son and spouse accessing.

  84. ed

    I delete all the bad ones first from the Memory card then moved the rest to a 4GB Flash card, when the Flash card gets full or close to full , I burn them to a DVD that holds 4GB files then Re-Format the Memory card so i can re-use it…:)

  85. dragonbite

    I started out using F-Spot but wasn’t too happy with it. So I tried DigiKam which was better in some ways, but was not perfect; it couldn’t see my Nikon camera for importing and took a long, long time to import each picture.

    Currently am using Shotwell which does a nice job overall
    + pictures are automatically stored in a yyyy/mm/dd folder structure
    + in Shotwell the navigation tree of Events can rename a day to a user-specified event (like “Birthday party”). This doesn’t change the actual folder name, just the listing in Shotwell
    + Pictures can also be tagged
    + Can upload to PicasaWeb, Flickr and more
    + Selecting a Month, or Year, the individual Events (days) will show once, like a picture in an album, and you can select which picture that is. This makes it easy to visually navigate through the pictures.

  86. dragonbite

    Oh, and I also have Shotwell set up for my wife and I to import the pictures to a shared folder between the two of us, where she and I can add/edit files, but the kids have only read-only access.

    All of this is running on Ubuntu Linux.

    I am not sure what I would use in Windows (Picasa? Photoshop Elements? MS Live Photo Album?)

  87. Nickie

    I use Picasa, The free face-recognition software is amazing. I was asked to name Madonna because she was on a TV in the background of one of my pics. It even suggested a name for my friend when it scanned her for the first time – the name was her young son out of 50+ names already set up.I didn’t think they looked alike or had any common features – but they obviously do as the software knows better. Saves lots of time looking for pics of Dad, Mum etc….

  88. ROTI

    Didn’t like Picasa 3, went back to Picasa 2, wish Photoshop Elements were more intuitive.

  89. Robert

    I have about 13,000 photos. The topmost folder structure consists of folders for scanned photos, downloads (from a camera), and other (received from someone else). Subsequent sub-folders use YYYY-MM-DD in the folder names.

    That said, I use the Organizer in Photoshop Elements to Tag (People, Place, Event), Date, and Find/View my photos. Absolutely love it.

  90. Snert

    Simply. Main folder,’Pix’, subfoldersr ‘categories’ of intrest.

  91. John

    I use Windows Live Photo Gallery and dump all my photos in My Pictures.
    It works well.
    I used to use Picassa, but I didn’t like how it didn’t edit the original photos (it kept changes in a *.dll file?).
    I had problems with it crashing and then had to start all over again with facial recognition and tags.
    It seems foolish to me to use a folder structure with the types of metadata available, and Photo Gallery can search many different combinations date, tags, people, geolocation.
    I hope that Microsoft updates their product with similar photo editing features that are in PowerPoint.
    I back up these files on my normal back-up schedule.
    I used to use Flickr but didn’t like the annual fee, no matter how small.
    I can share the photo email with link to Skydrive for free and upload to facebook.
    Perfect for what what I use it for.

  92. Karl Burkum

    My approach is simple. I do not use software to formally organize and tag photos. I simply use a folder structure on a hard drive.

    The first level folder is called “Media.”

    The next level there are three folders – Photos, Video, Music.

    Under the Photos folder, there is a folder for each year. within each year is a month folder (i.e. “2011-05” so they sort in order. Under there there is a folder for each general photo event or subject that month (i.e. Piano, Soccer, Christmas Eve, “Sally’s” Birthday, etc.).

    MOST IMPORTANT – I then run CrashPlan ( on my PC to back up my photos (and other files) locally to a USB drive AND remotely to CrashPlan servers. Very affordable rates for UNLIMITED data storage. USB backup drives are not enough (fire, theft, tornado, etc.).

  93. Jeff Watson

    C:\…\My Documents\My Pictures\CCYY-MM-DD_description where CCYY-MM-DD is the download date.

  94. james miller

    I use Adobe Lightroom 3 which keeps track of the location of all my photos. I archive exported copies onto DVDs. Many of my photos are also on my website (Zenfolio) where is no limit to space for professional accounts.

  95. john q

    I just throw them into folders and name the folder according to what it is, e.g. “chrismas party 2010”, “sisters graduation 2009”, ect. I have networked Kodak picture frame which displays a slideshow, but mostly I just look at them through windows media center 7. It’s nice when your listening to music and you have that scrolling slideshow displaying.

  96. Ron Jones

    I use the method that many use: A folder for each year, then a folder for each “shoot” titled “2011-05-25 Girls at Park” for instance. This makes it pretty quick to track down the folder from the approximate date. I go one step further, however, which is key to me.
    I use a program called “Bulk Rename Utility”. It can do many things, but I use it to put the date in front of the name of each picture. As the name implies, it can do many at one time. Say I have a photo called “DSC 1728.jpg”. After using the utility, it will be named “20110525 DSC 1728.jpg”. So if I find one of my pictures that I like that I don’t know the storage location, I just look at the name and can tell it is in a folder 2010-05-25. It takes a few seconds to mark all the photos in a folder. Often I get pictures from others that have different name schemes or wrong dates, etc. I tag them the same way and file chronologically.

  97. Dan

    Picasa 3

  98. John Ervin

    I have the normal tools available like picasa, but basically I just organize photos into subdirectories on a drive on my server. Sort of organized by topic.

  99. Jane T

    Lightroom . . . . 40,000 images and counting. Set to store keywords in JPGs and in side car files for RAW file.

    On the disk orgainised into yyyy/yyyy-mm-dd
    Tagged with Location, people, type (flora, rose)
    The best are also give Titles, Sales counts etc.

    Backups – 1 NAS drive in detached Garage – don’t you just love WiFi.
    3 external drives, backed up weekly and kept in a firesafe when not in use.

  100. Joyce

    I organize my photos by date in folders; then view each folder and discard all the bad ones, work on the good ones and save those with a different name. Eventually I put the best in an album in Picassa so I can share them with my friends.

  101. Ian

    At times I shoot over 1,000 images at an event, so for me it’s critical that i can easily find an image when needed.

    each image is stored by reverse date, followed by short title then a number sequence then the images are stored in relevant folders for easy retrieval or grouping.

    If by any chance the images get mixed up, this system guarantees there will be no replication of file names, and having the date leading the file name makes sorting very easy.

    example: 110526_MXNATS_002 ie: YYMMDD_Title_Seq no.


  102. Sarasvati80

    I usually go with date but also with different major subjects.

  103. Steve

    I use the Windows Home Server folder and name it the Month (00) Date (00) and Year (00) and project name. While this screws some things up due to the MDY instead of YMD format, it keeps me hopping and seeing some old photos of days gone past.

  104. Darron Sellick

    Dedicated media sever with 2 x 2 TB hard drives.
    external hard drive for backup of media server and kept of sight.
    As picture become redundant burned them onto a DVD.

    Pictures are stored in categories and are named and dated.
    eg work barbeque 25 may 2011 – would be in the social_event_folder/social_work_folder/workbarbeque20052011/ and the pictures numbered workbarbeque20052011_1, workbarbeque20052011_2

  105. Diann H

    Hi All,
    My management way of photo is first of all to split several folders for every phase that I’m in teenage, elementary after shhool…. etc. And other are like as Pat OBrien’s method.

  106. Terry

    I have my photos in Windows Gallery, a seperate folder with them as well listed year by year, I have them in my webshots as well as in photo bucket. I have them all on a backup disc in case of a crash.

  107. cb walk

    I sort by year and month. In the month if I have a lot of pictures I will sort by events. The years get backed up to a usb hard drive.

  108. astral_cyborg

    I do it manually. I rename each file with the pattern:
    “year-month-day. event type and/or person names as title (place, city)”.

    I put them in directories entitled as year numbers (eg. 2010, 2011 etc).

  109. Diz_LFC

    I use the format “YYYY/MM_DD – Event” and rename the photo/video files as “Event ##” (where ## is 01, 02, etc., ordered by exif data). Photos and video clips are mixed in together by exif/taken dates, so could be “Event 01.jpg”, “Event 02.jpg”, “Event 03.mp4”, “Event 04.jpg”, etc. Gives chronological order of the event in photos and video.
    If they are over a few days, like from a holiday, then use a date range – “MM_DD-DD – Event” or “MM_DD-MM_DD – Event”. Then either have all the photos in there or split into “DD – Optional Sub Event” folders for larger number of files, e.g. Snowboard holiday with lots of photos & video clips.

    Use XnView for deleting bad photos as can layout the window to show folder & file structure, thumbnails, larger view of selected file and it’s exif data.
    I then use it’s batch rename dialog to rename all the files. Can order by exif date or name and either use a name template (“Event ##” and set start and step numbers) or replace one string with another. The batch rename dialog displays a list of the files selected with the before and after preview of what will be renamed to what, so you can tweak the template/replace entries. It can also change the extension to be lowercase or uppercase.

    I backup all my files to my NAS and use 4Shared website (free account – 10-15GB) to share photos with family & friends. 4Shared has a desktop app where you can drag & drop files to a folder on your PC which automatically syncs with your 4Shared account folders. The site allows you to set passwords and send links to the folders.

  110. Marcos

    One root folder as “Fotos e Imagenes” (Photos and Images), within that a yearly folder, within the yearly folder individual ones for each date I took the photos with a description on the subject.

    Images (not my photos) go into one main folder with individual ones based on themes. I use XN-View and the free Fastone software.

    Backup goes to my central computer (manages Bups, printers and scanners) and also external disks (USB connected so that they can come with me when necesary).

    My sharing is limited to Facebook and selected email friends and family (I don’t send full sized but reduced to screen resolution).

  111. Sumangal Vinjamuri

    I use Picasa for basic organizing, for general pics but I use Adobe Photoshop Lighroom for some advanced tagging, cataloging and maintaining my personal photos library!

  112. Greg

    i bought the pro photobucket, but i think that was a mistake… they have handheld apps for android, but they do not have a friendly api… i’m a python programmer, and working with PIL now to try to make an app to manage the pics myself – using jquery gallery widgets (not sure which one) to manage the front end.
    if anyone knows of a friendlier picture handler that has a great api for PHP or Python – i’d appreciate knowing about it.

  113. que

    External Harddrive

    Problem solved.
    With smugmug you really don’t need to organize unless you want to create albums of specific events/topics/subjects/places.. But you can dump everything there, it sorts and splits them into year/month/day view etc.. But I keep mine in Year then Month subfolders.

  114. philm1

    I have an old PC in my den where all the pictures go. Folders denote the year (top folder,) Month (sub folders,) and event (sub sub folders.) The monitor cable runs through the wall to a flat panel monitor that hangs on our dining room wall. I framed the monitor with a nice wooden picture frame so it looks like a piece of art. We all dump our pictures on this machine, and the PC does nothing but run the slide show screen saver all day. It is great during the holidays when we all sit around the dining room table and are reminded of all the fun events from years past that are depicted in our “dynamic portrait.”

    I’d be interested in some way to tag the pictures with more detail (like scribbling kids’ names and ages on the back of a photograph) and having that information subtly displayed during the slide show. Anything out there that does that?

  115. philm1

    Oh, it would also be nice to be able to search the photos for a specific person. Any tools that can do face recognition on your photo collection, and/or search the information that you tagged the picture with to find someone??

  116. Saptashwa

    How does Picasa sound? Also, I backup all my photos to my external HDD (the original version remaining on the internal HDD).

  117. john3347

    I am the unofficial photographer for my extended family; not any level of professional photographer. I use Windows Explorer to organize and save photos. I use Faststone Image Viewer almost exclusively to edit and to view pictures. I file photos by category rather than by dates. I create a folder (directory) called “All Documents” and EVERYTHING that I create and/or save goes in an appropriate sub-folder in that directory. Pictures are placed in a folder and additional sub-folders (some going 3 or 4 layers deep) to categorize pictures further. (A typical path to a picture of a vehicle I had a few years ago would look something like this: C\Users\user\All Documents\John\Cars\Red Van [4-25-2002] (4). Dates are appended to each photograph name as illustrated here. I use Windows batch rename function to name and number as many photographs as I have that need to be named alike. Windows rename function appends the sequence number. This function is illustrated by the parenthesis in the example.

    As I transfer pictures from the camera card to the computer, they are placed in a folder named “Unsorted” in the “Pictures” folder and can be renamed and moved to the appropriate folder for permanent storage when convenient. I use Windows SkyDrive to send a few or even hundreds of pictures to all interested friends and family and they can, in turn, review, and download and save or print whichever ones they have interest in and ignore the rest. After a few weeks the pictures “self-delete” from SkyDrive with no further action on my part.

    That’s my story, and (so far) I’m stickin’ to it!

  118. Bart

    I usually import to one folder and never get around to organizing it…except last week i organized all my photos according to what device took them. 60D, G2 , SD1400 ….so i know the quality to expect the images to be in when or if i need to print.


  119. Susan

    I, too, have my pics on my hard drive on my old desktop, organized in My Pics and into folders acc to the year, then acc to the actual dates. I recently got a new laptop, so I have been ding the same thing on it and then I put them into Windows Live Photo Gallery, in the cloud. The older desktop has XP so it runs a dif version Of WinLive but I also have synced the pics from its hard drive to the cloud I also use Picasa and Picasa Web Albums and I have the desktop photos synced to it. The laptop pics have not yet al been synced to Picasa Web Albums, as of this report. I have been tryng to completely “live in the cloud”, as one might say :) I participated in Google’s Pilot Program for their new oS-Google Chrome- and I received their CR-48, so irt really has been al about the “cloud” for me these last several months. On June 15th the first batch of “Chromebooks” will be released to the general public for sale. Manufacturers Acer and I believe Samsung will be the first 2 companies to provide versions of these Chromebooks, which are ultimately for “computing in the cloud” VS heavy hard drive storage. I personally recommend these computers to anyone who needs a new laptop or just wants one. (sorry, kinda got off topic here-but these little FAST laptops will be perfect for moving your photo collections to the “cloud”. Experts tend to express, though, that there’s STILL a need to assure the safety of one’s digital collections, to also make use of a “paid” cloud back-up like Mozy or Carbonite, but I, presonally, to cut my costs of living, don’t use. I use the free versions, Like Drop-Box. I suppose you could also back up to another external hard drive, but I’m guessing that could fail just as easy as the one inside one’s desktop/laptop! So there’s what I do, “in a nutshell”….LOL!

  120. Dave

    I use the database management component of ACDSee Photo Manager or ACDSee Pro. My images are all named yymmddxxx where xxx equals the image number for that particular day and copied into a monthly folder. I have a database for the current year and previous years categories are copied to external drives and DVD.

    ACDSee has set categories – Albums, People, Places and Various and the user can add sub categories to each. The program also has auto categories including f stop, image type, ISO, camera etc. The later versions of ACDSee willl automatically add image information as it reads each folder. Backup and Restore are very handy options just in case.

    Don’t forget thet CD’s and DVD’s will degrade after a while so they will need rewriting at least every year.

  121. Bill Maxwell


  122. Clay jackson

    Photo Mechanic is really the best program out there! As a newspaper photographer I wouldn’t want anything else, it’s super fast, easy to use. Check it out at You will not be disappointed.

  123. Prashaster

    I use picasa and even folders at times.

  124. Trajke

    Different folders for diferent day, at the end of the month i look throu and save only the best of them, then same for the year end…

  125. Dan Costello

    Has anyone come up with a clever way of filing the great Geek Tips ?
    There as so many and I havnt deleted any


  126. Rnncdn

    @ Andrew:

    would you share the script you wrote to use the metadata? It sounds intriguing to me, but I don’t begin to know how to create it myself.

  127. Jerry aka The Kiltman

    I use Picasa 3 to send pictures by e-mail. I organize all pictures like the phone book A-Z.
    For Example: The “F” folder would contain Family and Friends. The “A” folder would contain
    Animals. The “P” would contain Plants. Under Plants there would be Begonias, Astromeria, Dahlia, etc.
    Each would be in their own folder or file. Trees would fall under “T” in the Plants folder. The “C” folder would contain Cartoons. I organize everything by taxonomy A-Z. Plants have common names but the genus and species are universal.

  128. Anthony

    Picasa for capturing cropping and enhancing.


    YYYY-MM-DD (Usually Date Taken)

    B:\Pictures Copies
    (B: is the Backup hard drive; exported from originals in My Pictures for various purposes.)

    D:\Documents\My Pictures Business
    Ebay Craig

    D:\Other Pictures
    Cool Illusions

  129. Dan Costello

    Thanks guys -you are a great bunch

  130. joel

    Photo Mechanic.

    Imports with an easy to understand user-interface allowing file and folder naming plus ITPC info. It’s as complex or as simple as you wish to make it. Everything going into my systems goes through it and is backed up (originals) before I ever let any other solution touch anything I’ve shot.

    Good investment with solid support.

  131. highwayman joe

    In addition to my hard drive and back up on flash drives I like to store my pics online in various places: Facebook allows 200 pics per album and an unlimited number of albums, then you can choose who can see them, you can even set your privacy so that only you can see them. I also like to make slideshows which I think is a great way to store a bunch of pics and then show them off. I especially liked when they had the music feature, but then when google purchased them, they removed the music feature. That was a sad day. I also like to store pics in E-mail programs, by mailing the pics to yourself as attachments. But I’m going to explore some of the suggestions that I see posted here. Thanks guys.

    As far as organizing them, I usually organize them by topic. Like this slideshow on I made entitled Girls With Guns:

  132. Holger

    I have no special tool to organize my photos.
    Basically I do prefer the traditional way of organising them in folders on my harddrive.
    So the first step is to define several sections where my photos go to.
    I have a WinXP / Ubuntu dual-boot with one common NTFS-partition to store data such as movies, mp3’s or pictures.

    Thus, I have various folders like: travels, aviation, artists, fun-pics, nature etc. on D:\my stuff\photos

    Next there’s a new level of subfolders, e.g. 2008-Japan in travel or fighter-aircraft in aviation.
    Inside a folder I stick to a consistent pattern of naming my files, e.g. in fighter-aircraft it looks like:


    Software used for viewing pictures:
    WinXP: irfanview
    Ubuntu: gThumb

  133. Digital.Geoff

    We’re talking about what the professionals call DAM (digital asset management). One of the best books on the subject is by Peter Krogh.

    If you want to catalogue your pics properly then Adobe Lightroom should be considered. But it’s expensive. Having 10s thousands of pics I’m about to invest in IDimager which is more affordable. It has it’s own catalogue but can also simultaneously put the information into EXIF data of the photo itself so you are not for ever tied into the product’s catalogue system. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read about the product.

  134. Michael Wells

    If you have a large collection of images to organise (not just store) then the only technology that solves that problem well is metadata: embedding information in your images to give them meaning, history and context among other things.

    If you want search, then you need metadata.

    The back catalogue is the headache at the start. If you’re serious though, and use metadata to index your content, you can have a “many to one” arrangement, where one photo belongs in several places. That’s where the payback comes.

    For example, a photo of a car might well also belong in a broader collection of vehicles. A city might also represent a historical era (especially in Europe). Or a photo of a musician might also be a genre of music. You can have a really interesting, dynamic collection of photos which can be viewed from all sorts of angles.

    Compare that kind of flexibility to simple folders where you must choose precisely one place to put the image. Most people are taking enough photos to already know that doesn’t scale.

    Tools like Picasa do a great job of making tagging images easier for home users, and Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture take it to a much higher level for professionals. Further up the chain, there are products like the one my company produces to help centralise more and more files under the same model, online. As Digital. Geoff says, this is the world of Digital Asset Management.

    I’ve written more about this in a white paper on metadata if anyone wishes to pursue it further.

    Whichever tool you use, the whole point is to escape from storing your images in directories and browsing them, and instead move towards metadata and search (a database).

  135. Flarc

    I use cam2pc for downloading photos from camera with auto-renaming inserting date and hour into filename. It also auto-rotates photos according to exif metadata.
    then i import into lightroom3 for cataloging/tagging.

  136. Markus Steiger

    I’ve tried numerous of digital photo management software programs. My photo archive migrated from Picasa to PicaJet, then from PicaJet to Lightroom. And I am considering to migrate to a new Daminion. The last products (LR and DM) supported metadata very well but I need the multi-user access to our media repository. And DM promises that during a month they’ll announced a Daminion Server with support for shared catalogs.

    I totally agreed with Michael Wells – if you would like to keep your annountations in safe place and months you’d spent to keywording is important for you then you need to solely rely to DAM solutions with comprehensive metadata support.

  137. joost

    Hope this isn’t closed yet, because I’m very interested in hearing some tips. Completely agree with Michael and Markus on metadata, it’s the only way forward. But which? What I want is the most universal of metadata. I don’t care which is easiest or even best. What interests me most is that I stand a good chance of being able to read them in ten years time without resorting to an antique computer.
    Best I could cme up with until now are tags, added in windows. (explorer is to me the best for bulk tagging. They’re readable in all windowss apllications, in picasa and ubuntu shotwell (though beware this is a one-way street, if you add tags in shotwell, windows won’t read them). That works pretty well for me.I can recommend it to everyone.
    Main problem now is more elaborate comments. I don’t want add a tag reading “holiday with my sister in Istria june 2011″for just the fifty photo’s I shot there. For me, some kind of comment metadata would work best. Windows file comments work fine in windows, not in ubuntu.
    I know exif or iptc could do the trick, but they’re annoying to add. (I need irfanview, and I dont want to install that on every computer and force everybody with access to our database to use it.)
    Anybody knows a smart way for this? thanks

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