10 Tips to Organize your Images
After a big shoot going through all your photos can be overwhelming. Here are some strategies I've developed that help me keep my small photography business organized.
One of the least fun jobs after a photography shoot is sorting through and culling the photos. In the days of digital most photographers have a high percentage of images that they will never even consider using. Some photographers use software to sort their images—these programs collect all the shots that look very similar and chooses the best one for you. I'm old school and I don't trust a computer to do this job for. Working along side other photographers though I've realized that many photographers were never taught an effective technique on how to do this and it can end up kind of a mess if you're not strategic. Or worse yet you may miss some of your good images by editing arbitrarily.
Here's the process I was taught when I studied photojournalism that has proved tried and true for me. And a few adaptations I've made a long the way.
DO NOT delete images directly on the camera.
Mainly it's too easy to make a mistake. Unless an image is complete black or completely white you might be missing something on that small screen that you'll see on the computer.
Here's my 10 Tips for organizing your folder system:
1) I like to keep a folder with the YEAR (The reason I have years ahead of the current year because I put wedding contracts in them for future bookings.)
2) In the year folder are subfolders that are categorized by GENRE ie WEDDING, FAMILY
3) In the the genre folder I label couples by FIRST NAMES (because you never know if people are going to share a name afterwards).
—Upload all the photos into this folder.
4) With wedding photos I divide the day into EVENTS ie CEREMONY, which is also how I export them onto a USB for the couple because thousands of unorganized images is very overwhelming to look through and annoying if you want to find a specific picture later.
5) In each of these EVENT folders I create an Edited and an Unedited folder. I only give customers Edited images but I keep them all. I keep them for a few reasons that I won't get into here.
Now comes the tedious culling part.
6) In your finder box if you highlight an image and then press the space bar it will enlarge the image for you. If you highlight all the images you can toggle through them with the arrow keys. I do this to look at every single image that I have taken. It allows you to quickly scan through them.
8) Drag and drop the images into their appropriate folders. You can edit your original images but sometimes it's nice to keep a copy of the originals in case you have an issue in the editing process which happens if you're newer to editing. So, especially early on I liked to just bring a copy of my selected images into my edited folder and leave a version of all the images in the unedited folder. It may save you a lot of stress later if you make a mistake and are not able to revert your image back to original.
Any images that were not selected go into the unedited folder.
9) Now you can take all your selected images over to Lightroom to tidy them up!
10) One last tip — renaming your photos when you export them. This is easily done when you export from Lightroom.
First of all do RENAME your images! It makes your life easier in many ways but mostly so you can easily distinguish your processed final products from your unedited images. It makes them easier to search in general.
Everyone has their own renaming strategies. I have been taught/show a few of things over the years. These are two that I like.
Example 1: Use the date at the beginning of the file name followed by the sequence number e.g. 092718-012
-Pros this makes them easy to sort out and find later they will always be in chronological order
-Con I'm mildly dyslexic and this just messes with my brain
-Con if you do multiple shoots in one day you also need add another clarifier like the clients name
Example 2: This is what I have started to use
Family name followed by the original sequence number e.g. Brown-012
-Pros it's simple
-Con if you get the spelling of name wrong it's a pain to fix them all
-Con If you have a larger cliental you will get duplicates and that's confusing (thus the year folders)
I used to change the sequence numbers from the original images but no longer do this because if I have to go back to my unedited folder to find an original it's much easier to have those original sequence numbers.
I'd love to hear feedback from other photographers both pro and hobbyists on how you keep your images organized and especially on naming strategies.
Michelle J. Falk
Shares stories from behind the scenes and tips to improve your photo sessions.