I recently decided that I wanted to do a better job of keeping my digital photos organized. I did some research into how other people named their files and kept their photos from becoming impossible to find. My biggest problem is that I am not a professional photographer so the photos I take in day might not all be one subject (so having a date and event title for each day I shoot is not necessarily practical). I am also just learning how to use my camera so I often just take photos of nothing in particular in order to play with the settings. I also shoot in RAW so the files that I upload off my camera are not the ones that are useful to me, so it is possible to end up with double the files.
The naming system I decided on is fairly simple. First, I determined that it was necessary to have unique file names for each file. A royal pain in the rear to rename all those files, you say? Not true. I use Adobe Lightroom which will rename your files at upload or you can go back and do it later. My files are renamed to shooting date-orignal file name (ex: 20110205-IMG_0789.CR2). It will never be Feb 5, 2011 again, but it is possible to have another IMG_0789 (after 10,000 pictures, you camera will automatically restart at 0001).
Next I made a folder on my external hard drive for “Photo Originals.” It is then broken down by year and then by month. When I upload my photos off of my camera they are automatically split into folder by shooting date. So, I copy all of these “originals” into their proper file within “Photo Originals.” So photos from Feb 5, 2011 are under Photo Originals > 2011> 2011-02> 20110205.
My “working” files are organized in a slightly different manner. This is what works for me, but it may not work for you. Since I don’t always shoot an individual subject or event on a single day I have two possible ways to store my files. I have year folders broken down into months (much like my “Photo Originals” are organized), but then I have other subject folders such as “Travel” or “Hiking.” Within each subject folder are year folders. All of my “working” files (i.e. not the copied originals) are put into year/month/day folders. Then, when I edit them, I put the edits in the subject folders.
For example, I went to Arctic Valley on Feb 5, 2011 and took lots of photos. After I renamed them and made copies for my originals folder, I put them in 2011 > 2011-02 > 20110205. Then as I edited and exported them out of Lightroom, I put them in Skiing > 2011 > Arctic Valley 20110205.
Now onto problems…I edited some photos and posted them online (I use Phanfare) and they look nothing like they should! I’m so upset. Phanfare has been great until now. As a service that I pay and that promises to upload full quality photos, I feel like my photos should look right, right? I’ve contacted customer service and they are (slowly) helping me with this problem. I don’t really want to use a different service because I like they way Phanfare is organized. Keep your fingers crossed for me!