Getting Your Photographs Organized


The Maryland heat this week has been quite the bear. Growing up in Florida, this was regular every day heat, but after being in the north for some time I’ve gotten used to a cooler climate. I’ve spent some time in the woods with lush ferns and verdant moss due to the heavy rains we’ve been getting.

It’s also a time that I spend midday at the horse barn making sure my old mare is well hydrated so that we can go galloping out in the fields when it gets cooler. (note – this is not me, or my mare.)


I had an early morning private student earlier in the week and when I returned home, it was impossible for me to convince myself to go back outside in the heat and go tend to Remy. Instead, I did a project that was long overdue.

After photographing for a number of years, and a frequent and sometimes daily photographer, the images have been piling up on several external hard drives. It was time for me to begin going through those files and pick out out the best of the best.

Using DropBox as my destination, I created a folder with categories, like Animals – wild, Animals – domestic, Flowers, etc. I went painstakingly through two external hard drives and picked out images and placed them into the organized folder. Seven hours later, I managed to complete going through the drives, not including the big trips like Africa, Galapagos, Costa Rica and Peru.

It is just a beginning, but being able to go to one folder and find my favorite images from years past will be so rewarding. It’ll be easy to share, market, etc. now that my images are more organized.

Of course with going through them, I realized I need to get out there and shoot even more !! Doing this has helped me realize what types of subjects I like to photograph the most, so I can begin to methodically plan outings to enhance these portfolios. Outings like beautiful waterfalls, or gorgeous sunsets.

So for those starting out – my suggestion is this. If you’re not already utilizing Dropbox, it’s a great way to back up your images and access them from anywhere. Sit and think through your file categories before creating the folders on your computer. Then organize your images into each of these folders.

When I import my images into Lightroom, I add to the original file name a custom prefix using a location abbreviation code, and the date the image was taken. This way, at a glance I know where I can find that picture. Example: HCC29Jul16-0377.jpg

Going forward my workflow for saving images will be like this. My master export from Lightroom will be onto the hard drive in a folder hierarchy like this: Pictures/lightroom/birds/2016/edited

Then from these images I will select the best of them and add them to my dropbox folder dropbox/showcase/birds.

Hopefully my growing pains will help you with your image management system. Good luck and keep shooting.

11 replies »

  1. I use Lightroom to make collections of my best and do not duplicate or move the originals. I also use keywords to enable searches. I have terabytes worth of images and could never use Dropbox to store them. I find uploading dozens or raw files to a server way too slow. I use Adobe’s file share for some. That way I can share files in Lightroom on my cell or laptop.

    • Thanks for your input Sherry. I like hearing how other people handle their file management system. What I ran into is with LR and collections, is that if the external hard drive is disconnected I have to dig it out and reconnect it so that I can use the image. Also, my ext HD’s cover a number of years, so the types of images aren’t gathered in one location. So if I want just sunsets for example, I would have to connect several HD’s to access the files.

      The second thing is that I want to have a backup system that does not rely on my computer or external hard drive as they can crash (and have.) Having them online on any location, whether it be dropbox, flickr, smugmug, etc. At least I have the files safely backed up.

      Good luck!

  2. I struggle with this! Thanks for the tips and please include actual pics of you and your mare! I have 2 horses and they consume most of my photos so I know you have some!

    • LOL ! That’s funny. You would think I would have a bunch of us together. But I have just a few of my mare. I’m planning on hiring a photographer to do a photo shoot with us, so will certainly share when I get that done. Thanks for your comment and visit.

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