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Thread: How do the pro's organise their files...?

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    Member coolhand78's Avatar
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    How do the pro's organise their files...?

    So i'm new to the whole photography thing, but one thing that i have immediately noticed is that I need a good system to organise my files...
    from my first trip away I've got some 400 NEF files at about 26mb or something each, now when i convert them to DNG (as duplicates) thats another 400x 26mb files
    then i save my lightroom files as another DNG and then a PSD and then a JPG so at present i've got 5 files for 1 photo...

    obviously i'm not going to keep every photo i take, but what i'm wanting to know is:

    a. Do keep both your NEF/RAW files and the DNG duplicates or just the DNG
    b. Once you've given it the lightroom treatment do then save another duplicate DNG file?
    c. Not all photo's need photoshopping but saving a PSD and then finally a JPG seems to be a step that can't really be avoided...

    I'm curious to know what the file/folder structure that pro's use is... would it be something like this:

    Date(for NEF) -> DNG (for DNG Files) -> Lightroom -> PSD -> JPG
    Luke.

    5DMkII | Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L II USM | Canon EF 50mm ƒ/1.4 USM| Canon TS-E 17mm ƒ/4L Tilt Shift
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I keep RAW/TIFF/JPG

    My file system is

    Year > Month > Subject

    So
    2013 : January : Scott and Jenny Wedding
    2013 : January : Simon Party

    I also 'tag' all my photos on import with keywords which I use to search. Adding tags is probably the best way to find photos. I use things like : wedding, Simon, Jenny, botanical gardens, St Johns Church, Hobart.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
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    Member CAP's Avatar
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    I'm totally unorganised and my files are all over the shop, but then that wouldn't surprise most here on this site.
    Like how Rick does it, one day when I have some time up my sleeve i might make a start into implementing this method.
    CC always welcome and appreciated.
    Tweaks welcome but please add how and why.



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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    I keep RAW/TIFF/JPG

    My file system is

    Year > Month > Subject

    So
    2013 : January : Scott and Jenny Wedding
    2013 : January : Simon Party

    I also 'tag' all my photos on import with keywords which I use to search. Adding tags is probably the best way to find photos. I use things like : wedding, Simon, Jenny, botanical gardens, St Johns Church, Hobart.
    Thanks Rick, I think i'll follow this method, do you do it manually or do you use lightroom to organise your files...?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAP View Post
    I'm totally unorganised and my files are all over the shop, but then that wouldn't surprise most here on this site.
    Like how Rick does it, one day when I have some time up my sleeve i might make a start into implementing this method.
    I'm just starting out - I've got 2 folders, my wedding and my honeymoon but i dont want to get to the point where it is just an overwhelming mess...

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I use lightroom, importing to a folder for each shoot, tagging as I go, all in one step.

    My advice is do NOT try and fix your old 'method'. Just stop right now and move to a new method and count today as day one! Trying to sort and classify thousands of old files just ends up annoying you (or it would me). Leave them as they are and start afresh with a new plan today.

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    Arch-Σigmoid Ausphotography Regular ameerat42's Avatar
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    I throw a T into the word and end up with CHA-T-OS.
    Wrks for me. (Just kidding!)
    CC, Image editing OK.

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    I just have folders within folders within folders. Works for me. I do ALL my rearranging through LR (made the mistake of doing it straight on the computer once and it made a mess). I leave everything in NEF until I pick which I want to export for various reasons and convert to Jpeg on export. Most of my old photos are Jpeg though. When I dump my phone SD card onto the computer, the photos all go into the appropriate folders also. An example of my folders and stuff:

    People > Kids > Flynn > Age 1-2 (All my random shots of him at that age are in there)
    Or
    Holidays > 2012 > Tasmania (All my shots from the holiday are in there)
    Or
    Weddings > Our wedding > Professional Shots

    It's probably far from best but I have always been a bit OTT/OCD with my photo folders. I am currently transferring old pics from my laptop to my desktop and I don't have many changes to make. Most folders are already sorted, just a case of moving them and maybe renaming them to my new naming method.

    Really, I think the key is just picking something you think will work for you, stick to it and don't try to change it. At the moment I have roughly 24,300 photos on my desktop, dating back to 2000 and I can find pretty much any photo in less than a minute. I just know my folder system back to front. (FWIW, I think most people advise against what I do, and there may be a reason that I don't know as mine are only personal pics)
    Last edited by JDFSandH; 24-09-2013 at 4:14pm. Reason: Spelling error
    Still a new kid in the photography world


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    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    I keep RAW, TIFF, JPEG

    Organised into year and then month in lots of 100 files each.

    So, I will have year = 2013, then month = September #1 or #2 etc.

    However, seeing as the files are listed in alphabetical order this would make the months out of order for a timeline so, I save the files with a pre-number system in front of the month. So, my list may look like this:

    2013 > 1 January #1 - I may add a descriptor if it is a wedding or something
    2 January #2
    3 January #3
    4 February #1
    5 February #2
    6 March #1

    Each month will have about 100 files.

    I should add, I am definitely not a pro.
    Last edited by Lance B; 24-09-2013 at 5:29pm.

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    I save RAW and Tiff files separatly , All dated daily in a folder then monthly folders and yearly in one folder , I keep the Raw's and Tiff's separatly, But use the same dating system , I dont save the Jpg's , Does'nt take a second to find the Tiff file and convert and resize if needed to jpg , All of our sales are off the Web site or FB so when needed we know the date taken and posted , 99% of the time , Each to there own
    Last edited by William; 24-09-2013 at 5:16pm.
    Canon : 30D, and sometimes the 5D mkIII , Sigma 10-20, 50mm 1.8, Canon 24-105 f4 L , On loan Sigma 120-400 DG and Canon 17 - 40 f4 L , Cokin Filters




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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    My file system is

    Year > Month > Subject
    Exact same method here, except I still use Canon's DPP. Thus files are all saved in RAW format only, except maybe if they need something that's not available in DPP - than it usually is PSD.
    Ciao, Joost

    All feedback is highly appreciated!

  11. #11
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Not a pro here neither, but mine is similar to Rick's.


    My only difference is the camera is the uppermost priority in the folder structure.
    If I had two cameras of the same model, I'd probably have two separate names for them as well.

    had the unfortunate issue that when I updated from D70s to D300 ... without knowing the impending issue of camera file naming about to become a problem, I inadvertently replaced some files from the D70, with newer versions of files from the D300(way back years ago)... the issue was that the camera default naming is something like DSC_1234.
    If you end up with either multiple cameras or an updated camera and haven't accounted for this you also run the risk of overwriting (older) files with newer similarly named files from another camera.


    if the camera allows unique file naming, I'd recommend that you use this option as well. I switch at the last number in the four digit cycle, and alter the alphabetical naming of the files.

    So my switch at DSC_9999 will change to DSD_0001. Some cameras allow this and many other options.

    At the time the most obvious solution was to simply make up upper most level directories for each camera ... D70s files always in the D70s folder, D300 files go in the D300 folder, and so on.

    Then within each of those camera folders, are Year folders and then again sub folders relating to specific purposes with each of those sub folders named with dates(named YYYYMMDD .. eg, 20130924).

    The only other change I make with downloading the files from camera to PC is that I also set up the transfer software to partially rename the files with the camera model as a prefix too .. adding to the camera file name.

    So DSC_0001 becomes D800E_DSC_0001 on the PC .. in the D800E folder.

    I only discovered this option for file renaming after I decided to use the camera model folder structure too .. but having more redundancy is never a bad thing I reckon.

    I thought about wholesale file renaming, but that's so tediously manual .. which I tend to have little patience for.(I barely have enough patience for tagging my files)

    And someone mentioned tagging the files too ... this is probably much more important than the process of structured filing of your images.
    I tried using LR for keywording/tagging, but it wasn't my cuppatea.
    I ended up using a two step process for my tagging.

    ViewNX2 for XMP/ITPC tagging files either individually as needed(and found to be needed) or during the transfer/downloading process.

    The reason I didn't like using LR was simple. Only IT knows of the tags you added into the file.
    If your digital photography world is centred around Adobe/LR .. this isn't an issue.

    With using ViewNX2, all tags made via that software are generally made available to most other software.
    Then I use another software for actually creating a catalog of the tagging ... this is the software I use for searches.
    (major annoyance with Nikon's software: it allows you to tag files with searchable asset management .. but no ability to do the searching???)
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
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    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Always keep the RAW's as is IMO.DNG is not accepted in a lot of competitions if you are into that sort of thing.Delete everything that you won't ever use.Only keep your best images and be ruthless.I shoot birds and as I get more and better material I go back through and delete all the shots that have been made redundant.I only get attached to my best work and am not too sentimental about my photos.I mean realistically,i have thousands of images that will never ever be used for anything and will only be a nightmare for someone when I snuff it.
    The way I file stuff works for me and is not for everyone and may not work for the stuff you do.For my birds I have one main folder called Aust Birds.Within that I have a folder called Parrots for instance.Within that folder I have a folder for each species of Parrot that i have shot ie;Crimson Rosella,one for Rainbow lorikeet and so on.I dont bother with dates.All I need to know is where the Parrots are kept.Keywords tell me where it was shot etc.The dates are embedded in the file if I need that info.
    This applies to my Reptiles,Mammals Insects etc etc.It is a job sending stuff to the right place and takes discipline and everything is backed up to multiple drives.
    The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to only keep your best stuff.That works for me because I shoot nature mainly and the images are kept basic without any fancy photoshopping. Hope that gives you something.

  13. #13
    Photo Bizarro nimrodisease's Avatar
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    I keep RAW > PSD > JPG

    My folder structure is Year > Date and Subject
    My name is John.
    www.jrfraser.com



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    Ausphotography Regular Geoff Port's Avatar
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    ameerat's method for me. But, I have just now taken Rick's advice and started a new " YYMMDD name" system. I also have heaps of keywords, many of which I don't use so will need to clean them up.
    Retiring in 14 weeks so in theory I will have heaps of time to sort all this out. Then again She Who Must Be Obeyed might have something to say about that.
    EOS 60D and a couple of lenses.

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    Good thread, it is interesting to see how others do it. Caveat- your reference to how pros do it eliminates me but for the record..
    I shoot raw and download to year/month/date.
    Immediately delete the OOF shots and other rubbish then wait a day or so
    Then I go through and take a critical look and may delete the lesser shots of a series
    When the time is right I have a super critical look and delete some more then move them to folders
    Birds and animals are the main thing so all Raptors will go to a raptor folder with subfolders for each one. etc
    Family happy snaps go to year/family/month/ date or event like X's birthday
    Odd stuff goes to Year/date/ visit to ....
    I use CS6 so it reads my Sony A99 raws and I leave the raw files and .psd in the same folder but <200kb net images are all in a separate folder. I do not renumber images nor tag them.

    john

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    Member newsonb's Avatar
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    Great thread.

    I've just got my new iMac and was about to embark on filing all my old holiday photos into one spot.

    Thanks for the great ideas.

  17. #17
    It's all about the Light!
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    I file by date in Lightroom, then edit the folder name...

    F:\Raw\2013\2013-10-16 <subject>
    I may end up with more than one folder per day.
    If I've done some heavy editing I'll also save the PSD with the raw PS -> LR

    I also have output forlder (F:\ForPrint\2013\2013-10-16 <subject> and F:\ForWeb\2013\2013-10-16)

    More importantly I have a nightly backup and a regular off site backup
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
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  18. #18
    Ausphotography Regular swifty's Avatar
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    Another Year/Month/Subject/Processed folder organisation structure here.

    Year's just the year.

    Months are organised as 01- Jan, 02 - Feb etc. so that 11 - Nov and 12 - Dec appears in the right order when sorting the folders by name.
    I also include specific Projects folders here that go on for more than one month.

    Subject's just a name for a each specific shoot.

    I then import into LR the RAW files and after processing selected photos, I export the jpegs to a new 'processed' folder within the same subject folder.

    I mostly keep the processed JPEGs but delete my NEFs from my laptop after backing up all the copies on separate external HDDs under the same file structure.
    Nikon FX

  19. #19
    Member shakes's Avatar
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    I'm far from a pro but do a bit of a mix of the above. but very similar to ricks

    I also have another 2 sub folder's that get hi-res/lo-res finals for ease to find my favourites from a set and for email or printing etc

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    I think there are a number of 'systems' which will work well, be it in ordered by date or subject.

    I think the major major must do is the tagging that Rick mentioned. I import via Lightroom and tag all photos as extensively as I feel I need to. Now, I do not have to remember when I did something I just type in a keyword. This cannot be underestimated when you do lots of the same thing on different occasions.

    Example: cricket / footy / etc..... Remember when Deano got that hat trick?...year, month, week?.......yeah probably not. Tag the photo on import and you stand a better chance of finding it easily.

    So, my file structure is possibly a bit loose but I try to tag as well as I can and I tag the following:

    Year, month, location (continent, country, state), group or event etc, names, animal type, flower type etc....

    You get the idea. A search in LR gives me a list of photos quicker then trying to tie down a date.

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