Tips for file organisation and backing up your photos
What is it?
Basically it’s a system that you develop that works for you. As I started organising and filing images before programs like Adobe Lightroom (which extracts images off your memory card and catalogues the files for you), I had to develop my own system that would let me catalogue my images so I could easily order and find them.
When I photograph an event I usually use two cameras. This introduces the risk that the two cameras may be shooting and recording the same number file. When I download those photos to the computer, I have to be sure that one set does not overwrite the other. You can now set up your camera to change the file number so that this won’t happen, but 10 years ago when it first happened to me, this function was not available on my cameras.
My step-by-step file organisation process
My first step is to upload the files to my computer and put them into a folder that has the following structure.
YYMMDD <<Descriptive Words>>, where “Descriptive Words” is two words about the shoot. If I was shooting a wedding it would be the Bride and the Groom’s names. I do this using the Windows import. So for example, if I photographed Greg and Mary’s wedding today the folder name would be:
140511 Greg Mary
Each photo would have its own unique number – I do not keep the original camera file names. So each photo would have a unique file name like: 140511 Greg Mary 001.jpg
Once I have retouched and edited the images, I do a backup of those images – one backup to an internal drive on my computer and another backup to an external drive.
The day I do the backup, I create a folder with the following structure:
2014 05 11 Photos
This is the folder I copy to the two drives for storage. This folder is stored in a top level folder named 2014.
This is MY procedure and it’s what works for me. I am not suggesting abandoning your procedure; just make sure that you have one, and that it makes sense to you, as the folder structure really needs to suit you.
This is my external drive structure. Each folder contains backups. My backups are manual and I usually backup after a major event or shoot.
This is what the 2011 folder looks like. Each folder is named as per the day I did the backup.
If I open the 110528 Ripley Lake folder I will find the following jpgs each with the same file naming convention. And the RAW files are in the CR2 folder.
Have a good look at your folders and files and if you don’t have a system of your own, I recommend you start one. If you overwrite a file or lose it, there is no way of getting the files back.