HOW TO: FILE YOUR DIGITAL IMAGES...

INTRODUCTION

Since I started serious involvement in photography back in 1996, I have read many many tips and tricks – each one proclaiming to be the thing-you-need-to-know.

But there is one thing that still sticks out in my mind. I still remember reading the article, and I still remember my response.

The article was about “Filing your Images”. It was about how to name, organise and store your images so that you can find them in the future.

My reaction was: “I know where my stuff is, this all sounds like a waste of time, besides… I don’t take that many photos.”

13 years and some 20,000++ images later… you can guess why I remember reading that article.

With the advent of Digital Photography, I believe that file storage is even more important for two reasons:

1- You can not look at a digital file in a directory and know what it is (like you can with a negative), and

2- At some time in the future, your children are gonna inherit all your images. If they can’t work out what they are they are not going to trawl thru decades of images trying to sort out what was what.

I recently had to organise my Dad’s digital images. I slapped him around the head afterwards for being so bad at digital filing, but that is another story.

There are 2 important things to remember with digital filling:


1. NAMING YOUR FILES:

All cameras will automatically name your images. My advice is that you keep that file name.

Any variations of that file simply require the addition of “Version 1” etc.

So if your file is originally called DCOM120409.JPG then the B&W version you do in Photoshop would be called DCOM120409 VERSION 1.JPG

The reason for this is so that all versions of your image remain in the same place together.

The directory on your computer hard drive would look like this:

DCOM120408.JPG
DCOM120409.JPG
DCOM120409 VERSION 1.JPG
DCOM120409 VERSION 1a.JPG
DCOM120409 VERSION 2.JPG
DCOM120410.JPG

I promise you, that if you start calling your files “Aunty Joan’s birthday” you will lose the original file to somewhere on your hard-drive, never to be found again. (And you have to name each subsequent version exactly the same or they wont all get filed together!)


2. CREATE FOLDERS FOR EACH OF YOUR SUBJECTS:

Create a folder for Aunty Joan’s Birthday (and call it that), and move all the photo files of that birthday into that folder.

This is exactly the same as putting folders into a filing cabinet. You have to put a label on the folder or you don’t know what is in it.

My Dad labelled all his folders by date, and called all his image-files what they were about. I had to open every folder to see what was in them. Mulitple folders contained related images… but you couldn’t tell until you opened the folders.

You don’t want five folders containing photo-files of your son as he grows up. You want one folder, called “David” (or whatever…)


CONCLUSION

This might not sound so essential. But I promise you, in ten or twenty years time, you will not remember the time or the place or the event in your image, and you will have thousands of images to trawl through. When I organised my Dad’s hard-drive it took me nearly 40 hours to tidy it up and correctly name and file everything.

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