• Welcome to the Lightroom Queen Forums! We're a friendly bunch, so please feel free to register and join in the conversation. If you're not familiar with forums, you'll find step by step instructions on how to post your first thread under Help at the bottom of the page. You're also welcome to download our free Lightroom Quick Start eBooks and explore our other FAQ resources.
  • Stop struggling with Lightroom! There's no need to spend hours hunting for the answers to your Lightroom Classic questions. All the information you need is in Adobe Lightroom Classic - The Missing FAQ!

    To help you get started, there's a series of easy tutorials to guide you through a simple workflow. As you grow in confidence, the book switches to a conversational FAQ format, so you can quickly find answers to advanced questions. And better still, the eBooks are updated for every release, so it's always up to date.
  • It's Lightroom update time again! Just the usual new cameras, lens profiles and bug fixes. See this blog post for Lightroom Classic and this blog post for the Lightroom Cloud Ecosystem changes. If you use a custom monitor profile on macOS, note that the Classic performance bug is not yet fixed.

File naming - when useful

thommy

Active Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
185
Location
Sweden
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Version
Lightroom Classic version: 9.1
Operating System
  1. Windows 10
Hi

I never rename my image files from camera import and cannot really see any use of it since I'm using keywords in Lightroom.
I know people in their workflow do name their files and it can even be very detailed, like "Photographer Name-Place-Subject-Date".
When could it be useful to name your files?
Or it just a compliment to have more control?

Thommy
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2015
Messages
10,711
Location
Netherlands
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
I rename files on import so when I export them and send them to a client I do not have to rename them at that time. When the client refers to the file by name, there can be no misunderstanding which file we are talking about. If I did rename the files on export, I would need to take some extra steps in order to keep the exported file name linked to the image in my catalog. Not renaming the files on import and on export would be no option, because then there would be multiple images in my catalog with the same file name.

This has nothing to do with keywords, that I use extensively too. Keywords are used to find images by content, not one particular image.
 

thommy

Active Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
185
Location
Sweden
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Thanks! Great answers and I can understand why you are naming files.
I have no clients - but maybe that's another problem :geek:

Thommy
 
Joined
Mar 29, 2015
Messages
579
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
I rename mine because I find I will move pictures around (using LR of course). I tend to keep my pictures organized by location. If I'm looking for something, I tend to remember where rather than when. Yes, I've started using keywords and have location information on my images but the location information may be too specific.

So, an example, I may have a folder for pictures taken in 'Durham Region'. When I find I've collected a large number of pictures of one location within 'Durham' I'll move them to their own folder like 'Uxbridge'.

Using unique names means you will never have a conflict.
 
Joined
May 9, 2015
Messages
791
Location
Palo Alto, CA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
I rename on import as I shoot with 2 Canon DSLR cameras and it is not unlikely that both cameras may use the same image number on the same shoot and Windows won't let me have 2 files with the same name in the same folder. So, I rename files to include a camera id as well as the original camera supplied 4 digit number. Also as during the lifetime of a camera, I'll go round the cameras' number sequence several times. So, I also include a "roll number" that I bump up each tie the camera goes back to 0000.

Example:
Original file from Canon 5D Mark III (4th time through the number range) = IMG_1234.CR2.
New name = 5Dk3R04-#1234.CR2

(yes, I know I can set the camera to do the rename at capture time, just haven't done so)
 

Wernfried

Active Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2017
Messages
158
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
I don't rename my pictures while import. Keywords and other data are fully sufficient, so I don't see any reason for renaming. I also use the standard folder names YYYY/MM.

I rename the pictures on export if desired. Unless you use other applications to organize your photos then I don't see any reason to give specific names.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Why wouldn't people rename files? It's not much effort, and what is so sacrosanct about names assigned in the camera?

Take a read here File Naming | dpBestflow - this was one of Peter Krogh's projects.
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
551
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
I use keywords heavily, but I rename all media to a unique name on import to avoid the possibility of ever having two different files of the same filename. This can happen (and has happened) when importing images from multiple cameras, or even the same camera when the file numbering gets reset or rolls over. I want to avoid an unintentional duplicate filename overwriting a file that’s actually a different image.

I also rename because it gives me a lot more information about the image when working with it outside the catalog. For example, a file can typically come out of a camera named
_1460039.RW2

My default import preset adds the capture date and time so that it’s
20200102-004345-_1460039.RW2

Now when I'm working with a copy or exported version of the image, not only does the filename give me a sense of where it fits in without having to dig into the metadata (filename says it's from January 2020), it allows images from different cameras to naturally sort themselves chronologically on the desktop, which is often a nice convenience.

I probably got some of these ideas from reading Peter Krogh.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
2,279
Location
Puget Sound
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
In addition to what Johan and others have mentioned, I rename so there is no confusion when I am having to deal with files outside of LR, especially if there are possible questions about backups, file syncing and orphaned/lost files.

--Ken
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
In addition to what Johan and others have mentioned, I rename so there is no confusion when I am having to deal with files outside of LR, especially if there are possible questions about backups, file syncing and orphaned/lost files.

And you'll see that LR isn't even mentioned in the "best practices" article.

There is one aspect where I see a some value in not renaming, and that's if you ever need to restore the second copy made by the import dialog or from the card (if you've not reformatted it). These are only temporary safeguards, so for me the question isn't really about whether one should rename files, but when.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2015
Messages
10,711
Location
Netherlands
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
And you'll see that LR isn't even mentioned in the "best practices" article.

There is one aspect where I see a some value in not renaming, and that's if you ever need to restore the second copy made by the import dialog or from the card (if you've not reformatted it). These are only temporary safeguards, so for me the question isn't really about whether one should rename files, but when.
If you rename on import, the second copy will also be renamed.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Yes, and is why I said the question is about when.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2015
Messages
10,711
Location
Netherlands
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
You confused me a bit because you started by saying "There is one aspect where I see a some value in not renaming, and that's if you ever need to restore the second copy made by the import dialog". But as long as you rename on import that is no issue either, so to me the question when to rename is easy: do it on import.
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
17,264
Location
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
Why wouldn't people rename files? It's not much effort, and what is so sacrosanct about names assigned in the camera?

Take a read here File Naming | dpBestflow - this was one of Peter Krogh's projects.
John you probably know that I lean toward the other side of this issue. To me it is important to be able to tie any image file back to the original image file recorded on the camera card by the camera. Those last 4 characters of the original file name must be available through out my workflow. Any naming system needs to include these. Other than that, the name of the file is unimportant and any human readable addition to the file name is irrelevant since everything you can imagine to include in a file name is or can be found in the metadata. If Lightroom is the image asset manager then there should be no case when the original image file is accessed outside of the DAM tool. Likewise the folder where the master image file is stored is also unimportant and any one of the default date named folder schemed is sufficient. If the master image is to be accessed only in the facilities provided by Lightroom, why spend import time developing some human readable name if the name is not needed by Lightroom.
I do think it is important to give derivative files exported by LR a meaningful human readable name since it is most likely that those exported file names will be looked at for some clue to the images source.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
While I agree about the common reference tying back to the original, Cletus, those 4 digits (or 7 in Conrad's example) have no real significance. They also repeat, more often if you have more than one camera. I am not putting the case for any one renaming scheme, but the value of renaming your originals is shown by Conrad's inclusion of the shooting date which does ensure that two originals can't have the same name. Another strong argument for renaming is where the scheme includes a sequential number and numerical continuity helps one check that all files are present. Sure, Lightroom lets one work without proper filenaming practices, but Lightroom won't last forever and is not the only way one accesses files.
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
17,264
Location
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
, but the value of renaming your originals is shown by Conrad's inclusion of the shooting date which does ensure that two originals can't have the same name.
In Windows and Mac filesystems the file path is an included part of the file name. So, if one of the default date named folder schemes is used, the shooting date is included already in the path part of the file name. Until recently Windows only allowed a max length to 260 characters including the null termination character. Two files shot with the same camera will never land in the same default date named folder path. I choose not to waste time and space by duplication.

I have lots of files in my catalog that have the same 4 character suffix. If I search in Lightroom using only that 4 char suffix, I may get several hits usually widely separated by date folders and easily distinguished by subject matter.

I don't think this is an all or must situation. There is not business case/workflow case for renaming or not. Just think it is important that everyone realize that the choice is personal preferences and does not affect the workflow either way.
 
Joined
Jul 2, 2015
Messages
10,711
Location
Netherlands
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
To me it is important to be able to tie any image file back to the original image file recorded on the camera card by the camera. Those last 4 characters of the original file name must be available through out my workflow. Any naming system needs to include these.
You can easily include these four characters in the new name if you want to, because the rename options include 'Filename Number Suffix'.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
You can get away with any bad practices or excuse anything as a personal preference, but that's not good general advice. So yes, one should rename originals and should adopt a strong renaming scheme.
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
551
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
In Windows and Mac filesystems the file path is an included part of the file name...Two files shot with the same camera will never land in the same default date named folder path...
That is safe as long as the images never leave their original folders. But does that filename's uniqueness survive when images are recombined for projects, or sent to a different filesystem? For example, a mobile file system like iOS or Android, or the directory of a web server where you've uploaded photos for a web site.

For example, suppose I have two different photos named IMG_4849. They were shot by different cameras at different times, so they are in different date folders. No conflict…so far. But now I want to use both of those different images in the same gallery on a web site. I do not want to accidentally upload two different photos named IMG_4849.JPG that conflict, overwrite, or get auto-renamed because they are now in the same directory in the destination file system which might be neither Mac nor Windows.

That is why I uniquely name every file at import. It gets its unique name, it never has to change again, and all copies/derivatives take on that unique name, never conflicting on any file system where it might end up in the future.

And you'll see that LR isn't even mentioned in the "best practices" article.
I'm not sure what the significance of that is, for two reasons:
  • No other software is mentioned in the article, because it’s meant to be about file naming best practices regardless of application, or with whatever application you have access to. Much of it can be implemented using the file renaming features now built into the desktops of macOS (Finder) and Windows (File Explorer).
  • Peter Krogh, who was involved in that website, is well known to use and reference Lightroom Classic heavily in his own books, so that would be where he developed his own best practices (I see that the file naming article has a different byline though). But because the article was commissioned by an industry association website, they probably want to avoid specific product mentions unless warranted or balanced by mentioning other applications. For example, the “Catalog Software Basics” article on the same website does mention Lightroom, but also mentions at least two other competing DAMs.
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
Messages
17,264
Location
Houston, TX USA
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Cloud Service
That is safe as long as the images never leave their original folders. But does that filename's uniqueness survive when images are recombined for projects, or sent to a different filesystem? For example, a mobile file system like iOS or Android, or the directory of a web server where you've uploaded photos for a web site.
/QUOTE]

I would never send originals to the web or anywhere else. The originals stay where they get imported. I have no reason to make copies of the originals for any destination and any Derivative (export) will get a rename to indicate that it is a derivative of an original. The original only gets used in Lightroom where the name of the image file is not as important as the other metadata. The file once imported into Lightroom does not get moved again and can retain its original camera generated file name forever.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
I'm not sure what the significance of that is, for two reasons:
  • No other software is mentioned in the article, because it’s meant to be about file naming best practices regardless of application, or with whatever application you have access to. Much of it can be implemented using the file renaming features now built into the desktops of macOS (Finder) and Windows (File Explorer).

Yes, that was the only significance and was a response to Cletus's previous comments including, for example "If Lightroom is the image asset manager then there should be no case when the original image file is accessed outside of the DAM tool."

  • Peter Krogh, who was involved in that website, is well known to use and reference Lightroom Classic heavily in his own books, so that would be where he developed his own best practices (I see that the file naming article has a different byline though). But because the article was commissioned by an industry association website, they probably want to avoid specific product mentions unless warranted or balanced by mentioning other applications. For example, the “Catalog Software Basics” article on the same website does mention Lightroom, but also mentions at least two other competing DAMs.

No. While I am sure you are right about the industry association not wanting to promote one application, Peter's practices were set out in the original The DAM Book which was released well before Lightroom existed. Back then, we were both using a combination of iView MediaPro, Bridge and DNG in similar ways, and independently pitched DAM book concepts to our respective publishers at about the same time.
 
Joined
Nov 30, 2012
Messages
551
Lightroom Experience
Power User
Lightroom Version
Classic
While I am sure you are right about the industry association not wanting to promote one application, Peter's practices were set out in the original The DAM Book which was released well before Lightroom existed. Back then, we were both using a combination of iView MediaPro, Bridge and DNG in similar ways, and independently pitched DAM book concepts to our respective publishers at about the same time.
Right. I have the DAM Book and was aware that he used to use iView Media Pro etc. and moved on to Lightroom. I just didn't cite the history that far back in my reply. I also used to use iView Media Pro for photo management, then switched to Lightroom. It's kind of too bad what happened to iView though.
 
Joined
Dec 7, 2007
Messages
2,279
Location
Puget Sound
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic
Right. I have the DAM Book and was aware that he used to use iView Media Pro etc. and moved on to Lightroom. I just didn't cite the history that far back in my reply. I also used to use iView Media Pro for photo management, then switched to Lightroom. It's kind of too bad what happened to iView though.
I agree about iView. I was in the process of moving to it when they were bought my Microsoft. Microsoft has screwed up a lot of things (like many of the big software/internet companies), but this one stung the most as iView was a good program and they just let it die on the vine under their ownership.

--Ken
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
Messages
5,666
Location
London
Lightroom Experience
Power User
I was close to iView at the time and was doing a presentation for them which coincided with the acquisition - so I actually announced it in the UK. Microsoft outbid PhaseOne because they had bigger plans and wanted the iView team who they moved to Redmond. About a year later Peter and I, and an Australian friend called Robert Edwards were invited over (I remember being picked up from the hotel in a Hummer!) where we were shown their LR/Aperture competitor, SmartFlow, by the CTO. So it was high level, they made other related acquisitions and put in a lot of resources, rewriting the iView code from the ground up, but then for some reason they lost interest in the whole area.
 
Top