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Organising photos...

matthewrfox

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Joined
Apr 21, 2021
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2
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  1. macOS 11.0 Big Sur
First time poster alert!

I've used Lightroom for a long time but never used Lightroom to its full. My main use has been importing a wedding shoot, creating one main collection for that wedding, adding a rating while culling then adding some presets and then exporting.

Now I want to import all my other photos and I'm struggling with how to organise everything. I've seen a load of posts that just say not to organise by date.... but that's exactly how my folders have been organised since I got a digital camera in 2001 so it's a hard habit to get out of. Also, whilst some things I did this month might fit in to an event folder (e.g. Easter walk by the estuary), what about one off pictures I take of the dog, a flower, a sunset etc. Do I still keep a folder by month, add events when suitable and everything else goes in to "April General Photos"

Does anyone have a structure that works well for a random assortment of photos of varied subjects?!
 
Joined
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Since you are used to store by date, continue, it's fine. I've been used to do this way since my first negative in the 60s. Each negative is identified by the date of the first photo and complted with a small description (year, event, location and people). Recently, Ive been asked to print photos of an event in the 70s, it took no more than 2 minutes to find the negative. I then scanned the neg, develop it in LR, the print it and voilà ! When I went to digital, I kept the same classification (which BTW, is very easy with Lightroom). I add keywords for the where, when, who, what, etc.

For photos that belong to several subjects, I don't mind, I use the collection.
 
Joined
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I use a folder per "shoot". A shoot can be an event, a trip, or anything else I define that occured within a specific time frame. These folders are housed under a folder per year which in turn are under a folder per decade and topped off with a master parent. So, a typical folder path might be:
"# Master images -> 2010's -> 2017 -> 2017-04a Big Sur Coast Trip". The "2017-04a" refers to the first shoot/event in April of 2017.

For one off photos of my dog or an interesting flower I use a folder under the year folder called those. This folder is named (for example) "2017 Misc". As these are one off images where the specific date is not really relevent (and can be found in the metadata anyway), I just use a month of 00 with the year taken. Typically, I use this "misc' folder where thee are less than about 5 or 6 images taken at that time/locaiton. So as an example if I take a walk around the neighborhood and come back with 3 images, they would go into the "2021 Misc" folder. However, if I come back with 20 images they would go into "2021-04a Neigborhood walk"

1619061878731.png


Dan
 

PhilBurton

Lightroom enthusiast (but still learning)
Premium Classic Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
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California, USA
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Since you are used to store by date, continue, it's fine. I've been used to do this way since my first negative in the 60s. Each negative is identified by the date of the first photo and complted with a small description (year, event, location and people). Recently, Ive been asked to print photos of an event in the 70s, it took no more than 2 minutes to find the negative. I then scanned the neg, develop it in LR, the print it and voilà ! When I went to digital, I kept the same classification (which BTW, is very easy with Lightroom). I add keywords for the where, when, who, what, etc.

For photos that belong to several subjects, I don't mind, I use the collection.
I use file folders organized by date, but my real image management is based on keywords, collection sets and collections, including smart collections. You can populate smart collections based on keywords or other conditions.

Our own John Beardsworth has devised a workflow management system based on keywords and smart collections. Highly recommended. » Workflow smart collections
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2007
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London
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Now I want to import all my other photos and I'm struggling with how to organise everything. I've seen a load of posts that just say not to organise by date.... but that's exactly how my folders have been organised since I got a digital camera in 2001 so it's a hard habit to get out of.
Great, because I hope we will convince you to stick with it and see its virtue.

A good way to think of "organizing" is:
  • Folders are for storage
  • Keywords and other metadata are for analyzing, categorizing and describing
  • Collections are for gathering and grouping
Dates are objective, and it's always less work to import by date than to import into a subjectively-categorized folder system. You know that photo of the old car on the estuary was shot yesterday, so why waste any time deciding whether to store it in the Local/River/Estuary folder or in the Machinery/Cars folder? Maybe photos 1-3 really belong in the first while you stood with your back to the estuary for photos 4-6 and the surroundings are unimportant. In the long run, a photo's capture date will never change, while over time you may well change how you think of that photo and decide it's really more suited to the Street/Candid because of the funny interaction between the passengers. Should you now move the photo into a different folder? In other words, folders are too rigid for how we categorize and think of photos.

You make everything easier, more logical and more consistent if you simply store the photo in a dated folder, categorize it by randomly (to use your word) adding keywords and other metadata to it as River, Estuary, Cars, subsequently Candid and Street too, and then add it to a collection when you're gathering pictures to show someone.

Keywords can be random and criss-crossing. I'd also point you to title and caption, the four location fields and the GPS, and the Job field which is easy to search in LR and is well suited to recording events.

Hope that helps.
 

Tom75

Active Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2012
Messages
374
Lightroom Experience
Beginner
Hi,

I used to have a system based on folders and collections by date for years and I have some time ago changed the whole system because I found out that it is really difficult to find something specific if everything is only sorted by dates and years etc. You might have to go through a lot of date folders to find a specific shoot.

Therefore I did the following:
  • my folder structure is still by date, grouped into years however the folders are only in the backgroudn for storage, basically I dont need them anymore later to find something.
  • All my work is then stored in collections under a specific category with the shoot or event name. I have different categories such as family with sub collections for different persons. Or Landscape, Wildlife, Sports etc. Wich such a system it will be much easier to find something specific because you obviously know in which category it will be.
  • In additioon I am also keywording my images and then it can be very useful to create some smartcollection based on keywords.

Regards,
Tom
 
Joined
Jun 20, 2009
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I used to have a system based on folders and collections by date for years and I have some time ago changed the whole system because I found out that it is really difficult to find something specific if everything is only sorted by dates and years etc. You might have to go through a lot of date folders to find a specific shoot.
If you are having to go through a lot of folders looking for the right image or set of images then you are not using Lightroom to its full potential. Creating a collection for each shoot would have solved your example if you count not remember the year. A keyword phrase for shoot would also accomplish the same result quickly too. With the keyword option, you could be using the filter bar or a quick smart collection. for instant results.
 

matthewrfox

New Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2021
Messages
2
These are all fantastic bits of advice and have really helped get the organisation in my head correct before I trawled through everything. I've organised the storage folders by year and named each shoot within it. I'm now using all the other powerful tools such as collections, keywording and maps to pull everything together and I feel like I've finally got a library of images that's usable! Thank you!
 
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