Organizing Digital Photos

Once you have a camera full of images you are faced with the question “What next?”

I guess its time we get down to Organizing digital photos or in other words your digital workflow

This process becomes important when you are trying to handle a large number of files in the little time you have. Not doing anything about this can lead to a waste of time and energy in searching for or even processing your photographs.

This process has evolved over a period of time and this document has been modified as well to reflect the changes. I expect to add or even remove from this as I get the process refined.

From a hardware perspective this is what you require

1. A good fast memory card reader
2. A fast CPU
3. Sufficient memory.
4. Plenty of disk space

Backup card readers and cables are important. Loosing one or the other due to an issue especially during the import of your pictures can cost you dearly in time.

Photographs can be imported directly from the camera, directly from the memory card, they can also be renamed on import. The choice is yours, I prefer to use a high speed memory card reader so that I can get the best speed while copying my photographs.

I also prefer to rename the photographs imorted with more descriptive name than what the camera names them. This would be useful when at a later date you try to retrieve the photo. You can use any utility you desire to do this.The stage you do the renaming can be your choice. Below you will find the stes I follow and you can see when I do my renaming.

After copying the files to disk I now import my photographs into Lightroom. I shoot using the neutral picture style and apply this style when I import my pictures, I also only generate a basic preview during the import. My basic Lightroom workflow is reproduced below.

1. Import photographs applying a basic preset with a low resolution preview.
2. Apply any personal custom presets.
3. Apply presets to remove noise at different ISO settings.
4. Generate 1:1 previews
5. Select Images you will require (selects and favorites)
6. Organize the order of the images.
7. Set relevant keywords
8. Make adjustments to the images, Brightness, Contrast, Clarity, Saturation, Vibrance, the white point and the black point.
9. Re organize the photographs to better visually represent the event.
10. Separate the Favorites physically or using smart collections.
11. Modify photos that require editing in photoshop
12. Save the changes to the metadata to the files
13. Generate 1:1 previews
14. Export Images for various outputs like (Album / Blog / Client)
15. Export photographs rated 4 and 5 for my portfolio.
16. Remove and delete ‘Rejects’ these can be moved to external storage or even deleted. I delete them.
17. Geotag the shoot locations.
18. Convert the RAW images to DNG this makes it easier to search on keyword and see the image previews in windows explorer.
19. Export the shoot to a separate catalog.with all related images.
20. Remove images from existing catalog. This will keep the size of the working catalog as small as possible.
21. Backup the exported catalog offline.

To make life easier organizing digital photos, I have developed a system and directory structure.

The topmost folder, this can be anything convenient, I use the below standard as I prefer to work with the folder that is the last in the directory list. This makes it much easier to locate.


(all my projects / shoots go under this at first – arranged under the relevant dates)




(all photographs the are rated 4 or 5 in the work catalog are imported into a separate lightroom catalog which is my portfolio)

(once a project is completed and the exported images given to a client the project is exported to a separate catalog)

(all exports to JPG that would for example be used in my blog, given to client, the album or even for slideshow are exported under this folder)

To help me with this I have come up with a naming standard for the folders and for my images. I have found that when I do this I am able to automate a large number of tasks. This eventually reduces a lot of time that would be spent on organizing the photographs.


(Main folder containing all images)
_digi (unique name would be the first directory)

yyyy yyyy = year e.g 2008;

(Subfolder created for session)
mm-month mm = month number e.g. 02 for February month = The month the picture was taken,

(File name given to session images)
SessionName = photo session description;
nnnn = unique number of camera e.g 100-8306, each
aeb-n = This is optional and is added if the picture is taken using the exposure bracketing number

Thats all folks, organizing digital photos is easier that you chink, you just need to commit to being organized.

Filed Under : Photography