Organising your photos


Keeping your photos in order is one of the most tedious things to do, but also if you do it properly it will save you a lot of time on front of the computer. And that means more time shooting. Here is how I organise my photos.

Uploading and folder management

It is important where to save your photos. I put all of them in a main folder with subfolder for the different photo shoot. I name this folders starting with the year, then month and day and finally the name of the shoot. In the end it looks something like: 15.09.03 Name of Photoshoot. It’s important to put first the year so the computer will sort them newest first. For doing this I use a photo catalogue software, which lets me add keywords at the same time or doing backups, but you can do it manually.


Next step is to tag your photos so you can go back to them in the future. For this you will need a photo catalogue app. There are a few out there, free or paid, so just google it.

Think about what you will need in the future and make a list. For me is usually the client name, the model or subject, the city, the genre. If you are into stock photography it can go much more complex, with feelings or colors to name a few. Here is my list:

Client name
Model name (or object, building, spot…)
Subject characteristics (male, blue eyes, blonde, house, forest, croissant, coffee…)
Atrezzo (red, scarf, cars, people, knife, table…)
Studio or location (and type of light)
City, country
Location characteristics (door, theatre, trees…)
Genre (portrait, fashion, urban, editorial…)

Later you can search the photo you need by combining these keywords. Urban and Brussels will show me urban photos taken in Brussels but not a commercial shoot in that location. It is very important to always use the same words as a computer won’t recognise male, man and men as the same tag.

Getting fancy, stars, flags and colors

To further organise the database there are these different tags, you can use them as you want and they are different in every app.

Flags are usually use to reject or mark photos, I use the reject the first time I’m editing my photos to mark the ones I’m going to delete.

Stars are, you know, stars, one to five… I tag all the usable ones with one, them review it adding the two, review again and so on.

Colors are more arbitrary. Usually you assign a meaning to each color and apply the tag when you need it. This is how I use them:

Red: Something hot, that I want to print or use to update my portfolio.

Yellow: HDR, well, I don’t do HDR, but sometimes I combine different exposures to get the final image.

Green: Panoramics, and focus stacking, any stacking involving the form and not the light.

Blue: Need of complex editing, export to another app to continue.

Purple: BTS. Behind the scenes, light schemes, photos joking with the client. Educational, promotional or funny stuff.

Some people also use GPS geo-tagging, face recognition and other techniques, and can be great tools for certain photographers.

Storing your work

It’s important to store everything in a proper way. Computers crash all the time and no HD drive lasts forever. I save all my photos in two different drives so if one crashes I just buy a new one and restore all the information on it from the surviving one. I also have another one in a different place which I update from time to time, so in case of a disaster (fire, flood, computer-eating zombies…) I will only loose the work from the last weeks or few months.

This is the more important piece of advice here, if someone wants to know I’ve already burnt four drives.

And that’s it. It can look intimidating at the beginning, specially if you already have a huge number of uncatalogued photos, but it’s worth the time. And the sooner you start doing it the better.

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