Photograph Organization actually starts with a large amount of planning IF you have any desire to keep things in some type of order, because I can assure you, that it can be a VERY difficult and time consuming task to change mid-stream (Take it from experience). Keep in mind I may be a little OCD on this. 😉
There are many different ways to organize your catalog and it’s tailored to the way each individual accesses their photographs, searches for them, and the work flow that is used in processing. In addition to the programs that you choose to utilize (Subject of another article in itself). So it’s quite a personal decision how to manage your shots
During my initial cataloging of photos, I had not given too much thought to how I would catalog/categorize my photos, so after importing. I had opted for creating folders that categorized what type of photo I had shot; for example, Plants; Landscapes; People; Architecture; Mountains etc. and that is where I would store each photo regardless of when/where the photos was taken
I found that this system started off being great, I created new folders for photos that fit a specific category and they were easy to find in Adobe Bridge by just browsing.
As my love for taking photos grew and grew this process became an increasingly time consuming process and my workflow took more and more time. Import the photos; process the photos, determine what category each photo fit into and move each photo. Finding a specific photograph became very, very difficult, and I was not too sure what category I might have felt like placing them in to begin with.
As time went on, it became a bit disheartening to take photos knowing what process lay ahead. I realized that my system was just not working well for me and it was time for a change. After talking to a few photographer friends and doing some online reading, and a ton of thought; I came with a new method that started right at the Import stage. (I am not familiar with the import process on an OS X device (Not yet at least), I’ve primarily used Windows based machines.)
Putting my plan in place:
When I connect my camera to my PC, I use the built in Windows “Import pictures”
The next part is a little bit critical in my process.
In the settings, I set up where to import my photos. I have a temp folder I use only for the import process.
I change the “Folder name” to “Date Taken+Tag”
At the import stage, I’ll tag them with something that identifies the set I’ve taken to give me a rough idea of what I shot that day. So my new folder structure looks like this:
Once the photos have been imported, I have a folder set created by year and move them into the specific year
The plan I created works really well for me, I currently have somewhere in the range of 30,000 shots, and am using Lightroom 5 (Why I use what I use, will come in another article as well)
This system keeps all of my photos in one location, and categorized. It also makes backing up to Local Hard Drives/Cloud Storage much easier
Again, this is MY process, and it works great for me. It could work for you as well.
If you have any desire to keep your ever growing photo catalog in some sort of order. It is truly worth taking the time to think it out, not just what your situation looks like now, but where you may be down the road with 30,000+ photos