My New Filing System!

OK - I know that's not a headline that screams "read me!" but some of you may find this helpful so I thought I'd share.

I take a LOT of photos over the course of the year, and without a proper filing system,  finding photos again is an absolute nightmare.  I know this because 2012 is a bit of a mess and I'm dreading having to sort it out! I've vowed that 2013 is going to be different so I've made a couple of changes to how I organise my photos that should hopefully help.

I wrote a post several months ago about how I organised my photos, and this is still pretty much what I do, except now I have added in a couple of steps.  These extra steps help me when it comes to doing something with my photos, like making my yearly photo book or finding pictures to use in the blog.

Firstly, here's what my files now look like.

1) Photos are filed first by year, then in a folder with the date plus a custom name.  Each photo is then also given a name with the date, custom name plus individual file name. (eg 21030109-beach-001) This is the same as before - no changes here!

2)  I go through each of these and toss out any that don't make the cut (no point in these clogging up my hard drive!) I then open any of these that I want to edit in Photoshop and carry out my edits either manually or by batching.  Again, this is exactly the same I as I have done previously.  (You can see the previous post if you want more information about these steps)

3) Once I have finished editing I save these as unflattened (meaning all the layers are still visible) PSD files, and keep these in a separate folder marked PSD files. This way I can go back in and tweak the edits at any time without having to start from scratch. This is also a very non-destructive way of editing and storing.

4) Next, I take these PSD files and apply sharpening for print, flatten the layers and save as a JPEG. Again, I save these in a separate folder marked "For Print". I don't resize any photos at this time as I am not sure at this stage what I intend to use them for, this way they are still at full size and could be made into a huge canvas if I wanted to.

5) Next, I take any that I want to share on the blog and save a copy for web at 720 pixels wide, and as a .png file.  I may not use all of these, but they are ready to go should I want to use them in a upcoming blog post.  Of course, if you don't write a blog you can skip this step!

6) Next I upload my ready to print flattened JPEG's to my SmugMug account for back up and general viewing by friends and family. This way, if they want to print any of these they can simply download and upload to their print lab, or can buy prints directly through SmugMug.

7) Each month, I intend to go through the all the "For Print" files and create layouts for the Blurb book that I like to make each year - this is to save having to do a whole year at once which is painful and time consuming. (One month at a time is the goal!) I will also see if there are any that I want to print for the home - I like to change around my photos a lot so I do this quite often.

8) There are two more folders that I have for filing - these are under the main "2013" folder. I have a separate folder that I use for my Project 52 photos - I'm not quite sure what I am going to do with these (probably a collage) so I want to have these all in one place so I don't have to go searching for them at the end of the year.

9) I've been using Photoshop to do my Photo Book layouts - I just find it easier to do this in Photoshop as it I know where everything is there although the BookSmart software works pretty well - so I have one final folder where I save each spread to once I have completed it.  (The one below is the only one I have done so far!)

I'm not saying this filing system is perfect - I've only started this with my 2013 photos - but I am finding it easier to have a system that essentially breaks down what I intend to do with each photo.

Please note I've just really shared my filing system here, things like file types, color space and prepping your images for print are all important too, but too long to go into here! If you are interested in hearing more about these things I can write up a separate post on them.

That about covers it!

How do you organise your photos? Does anyone have any tips they would like to share?



Thanks for those tips! There are a few I'm going to add to my system. I file by year, then month, and then a subfolder for a special event like a birthday or wedding.

John & Hannah said...

I noticed that your screenshot is from a Mac. Do you import your pics to iPhoto, or no? My husband loves Macs so I now use one.... I am not friends with iPhoto and organization, but I need to figure that out. My previous system of filing was just like Stephanie's. It worked out perfectly for me!

Audrey said...

I only got the Mac a few months ago and have never used iPhoto but I have heard it is great for organising your photos! I like Bridge and Photoshop and it's something that I have used for years so will not change now! Myabe someone who has used it before can tell you the pros and cons of it. Sorry I can't be of much help there! P.S My husband is an avid Mac user too - lucky for me because I love my iMac!

Erika Hollen said...

Thanks for the tips-- I need to try some of these... nothing ever gets printed! And now that I am trying to learn my camera I am taking a ton of photos. I like how you have it divided up.

Also, I would love to hear how you are making your photo books.

M Rein said...

I'd love to know more about how you prepare photos for printing. I've had a few experiences where I love a photo on the computer, and then am dissatisfied when I get the printed version back. I'll hope for a blog post on that soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi John & Hannah, I'm no expert but I can tell you iphoto is giving me a great big headache! It was soooooo good before I got my dslr, but after adding many more photos, and shooting in raw, it started doing very strange things. Now I'm trying to get my photos out of it into a normal folder system and it is tricky and takes forever. If you are not shooting raw, and if you don't have too many photos you should try it. But if you plan on becoming a serious enthusiast photomom I would stay clear - or maybe only use it for iPhone snaps. If you do use it, make sure to rename your files. IMPORTANT! It gets very confused if files have the same name (which can easily happen if you just leave them as a number). I hope this helps you avoid the problems I'm having!

menucha said...

I was gonna ask the same thing. I want to start organizing my photos and was wondering how you were using iphoto. None of my files are named and when I search for photos and type the file number often it gives me an old file that has the same number and I can't find the correct file! I'm really not liking it.. I want to try Adobe Bridge.

menucha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
menucha said...

Audrey I have a question (or two.) So like I said just before Im really not liking Iphoto so I just looked into Adobe bridge. As of now I have all my photos in Iphoto but when I click on Iphoto in Adobe Bridge it opens up Iphoto as opposed to opening up a folder of photos. Is this because right now all my photos are only stored in Iphoto, therefore to access them in Bridge I need to import them into regular folders? If this is what I need to do, that'll then mean that I'll have all my photos in folders and in Iphoto so I could just go ahead and delete the iPhoto "folders?"

Audrey said...

HI Menucha, I wish I could help you but unfortunately I have never used iPhoto only Adobe Bridge. I file my folders in my My Pictures folder on my Mac, with folders for years, months etc. Sorry I can't be of help! Maybe one of the other readers can help again...

menucha said...

Audrey, no problem, I'm gonna try and figure it all out. Also I want to apologize in advance if I don't respond to any of the comments you answered in your posts, it's just that I don't remember which posts I commented on. From now on I'll make a note of where I comment so I know where to look back. (If I'm ever able to be notified through email that you have commented please let me know!)

Audrey said...

Menucha, hope you chieck back here as I think I might have a solution to the comments! Although I haven't worked out how to notify you if I respond to a comment, you can sign up to the comment feed, which means that all comments on that particular post are delivered to your inbox. Would save you checking back! If you look at the bottom of the post you will see a Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) - click on that and you can subscribe to the comment feed. If you try it let me know how it works out!

Muhammad Amir said...

I know this because 2012 is a bit of a mess and I'm dreading having to sort it out! I've vowed that read more 2013 is going to be different so I've made a couple of changes to how I organise my photos that should hopefully help.

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