How do you organize your photos on computer? (I use Darktable)

va3pinner

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So I'm finding out (way too late) my organization system stinks. I'm home recovering from a surgery and it seems the perfect time to come up with a system that will allow me to sort and store my images for easy search and retrieval.
I like the idea that Darktable has a tagging feature, and I use it. I will tag by location and or subject mostly, but have started adding more tags as I go. Nice that I can enter a tag, and if DT can find it, it will load the photo. But I need a better up-front system.
Here's what I am thinking would work:
1) I have a Sort folder - this is where all photos will be downloaded from my memory card or camera.
2) Inside the Sort folder, create sub folders with the structure Year-Month-Day- Description.
Go through the images and sort them to the sub folder(s). This is just pure grab similar things and stuff them in a sub folder that describes them.
Once they are organized, I will place them in my master Photos folder. This folder will have parent folders by year, I would just add my newly created Year/Month/Day/Description folders in the year parent folder. As an example Photos/2021/2021/08/03 - Air and Space Museum. or 2021/2021/07/02 Garden Flowers.
I figure this will quickly get my images on my hard drive, generally sorted, ready for import into DT.

Using DT, I would import, then rate/cull/tag/ and process the images. I like the idea that you can create tag presets that can label one or several images at a time. the tags would be useful for a more refined search using DT later. Right now I have to go through several folders to find stuff and its a pain! The only thing I have to figured out is how to save my newly processed image, along with the sidecar file into it's original, source folder. I think I would like to have each subject in its own place. If I decide to upload an image to Filckr, I'd just copy the processed image and place it into a Flickr Uploads folder just to keep track.

Anyhoo - Too anal?? Too sloppy???
I really don't shoot that many images at the moment, but I'm sure many of you take thousands in a year. How do you organize your images?
DT users - how do you export your processed images and sidecar info into your source folder?

Thanks in advance!
Bruce
 

PakkyT

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I use a simple folder structure like you are proposing. The advantages of it is that it is operating system independent so I can copy the structure to Mac, Window, Linux, etc. and works the same. And it is not beholden to proprietary database or application for sorting and finding my photo.

The main difference between my structure and yours is yours is date/year based where mine is subject based. A lot of people do it by date like you propose but for me I may not recall the year but I certainly can recall the event or subject. So if looking for a vacation picture from California years ago, I don't need to remember which year it was but going to my "Vacations and Trips" folder narrows my library down to only vacation shots. Within that folder, now I use years so I might still have to open a few folders to find which California vacation it was, 2007, 2011, etc. but again I am already in the right area of my library. Then within any given year the subfolders will say "2007 California", "2007 Toronto", etc. so I can quickly find the one folder from that year that was that vacation. Likewise you may not how old your kid or pet was exactly but you can narrow it down fast by going to your "Pets" folder or your "Johnny" folder and then searching the years roughly when you think it was.

Main thing for me is not get to crazy with the upper level subject folders. I think I have about 8 or 10 total on my top level including one called Misc for stuff that doesn't fit the others (Vacations, one for each of my kids, Friends & Family, House, Cities and towns, Pets, etc.)
 

doady

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Windows 7 automatically makes a folder with the date of import as the name of the folder in the My Pictures folder, and I just use that. I just look for that folder in Capture One as well. Olympus file names are also based on the date, so it makes it easy to find a specific file or folder that I need. This is also important when copying folders back to my computer from an external backup drive.

For exporting from Capture One, I have a Saved folder, also in My Pictures. My My Pictures folder has few subfolders beyond the ones for my imported and exported photos, so just folders based on date of import and Saved is more than organized enough for me.

Only problem is, I have Olympus E-M1 II with two 128GB cards now. I'm no longer using my C-7070 with 512MB and 1GB cards, so I am not importing as soon as I get home anymore. Maybe I import several days even weeks worth of photos at once now, so one folder with hundreds even over a thousand photos can be unwieldy, so maybe I need to get into the habit of manually splitting a folder into 2 or 3 smaller folders.
 
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 Photos, with iCloud sync. I just let it do it’s thing making sure metadata at capture is dialed in. I don’t self-organize as that *is* the point of metadata. Basic editing for any online viewing can be handled by this program. Videos round trip to iMovie. Works on iOS and macOS.

Book and print images round trip to Affinity Photo. Maybe 80 images a year, separate folder.

All backed up to iCloud, Time Machine, and Carbon Copy Cloner triple redundancy.
 

PakkyT

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I am a long time Mac user but I will never trust Apple to support anything long term and won't depend on them for any "mission critical" (like organizing my library) needs as they are notorious for dropping support for older stuff, dropping applications and services completely, and breaking or never having supported important/basic functionality in their existing stuff and they don't really seem to care about fixing it.

"It just works" is a marketing slogan only, not really based on actual use.
 

va3pinner

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Thanks - I should have noted I am a Linux user. I have an app Rapid photo downloader that looks like it could do this for me automatically, just haven't figured it out yet.
 

va3pinner

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Found a very helpful solution for Linux nerds, Rapid Photo Downloader sorts it all! It will download and create a folder system based on date (or several other possible parameter) just like the system I mentioned in my original post. I can download from a camera, sd card, or from photo folders already on my computer, which will make sorting tons of photos I already have almost automatic. I'll post back after I've played with it a bit.

Bruce Williams recommended this, as Darktable doesn't have a good sorting/storage system as yet. He downloads his images using Rapid Photo Downloader, they are sorted by date & jobcode (location, subject whatever you put in there) automatically and are ready to import into DT for processing.

Now - how do I direct DT to export my completed images back into their source folder so everything is together??
 

Darmok N Jalad

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Also a Linux user here. I have a darktable folder where I copy my RAW images from the SD-card. I do my initial culling and edits in darktable, and export JPGs to /Pictures/2021 (until 2022, that is). I have a folder for every year I've taken photos in the /Pictures folder, which is synced to the cloud using pcloud (the darktable folder also is synced). I then use Shotwell for gallery view, and I apply tags to my images there (Shotwell has an option to embed tags into the images). I don't really like having more subfolders in a year, as it just makes it harder to find something. With something like Shotwell, you can find an image by search, so that just keeps it simple for me.

I also have 2 other darktable export settings, where it scales down the images for forum sharing. By having all personal folders sync to pcloud, I can pull up my content on any device, and it also makes for very easy restoring on PC failure/replacement. Local backups are there, but its just as easy to just set up my syncs and let the PC do the rest.

I will say I've been using Apple products on and off for years, but I'm finally doing the big breakup there. It's a shame, but I don't trust their trajectory anymore, and I can handle a modern Linux distro. I've been using darktable for years now, so I've always had one foot out the door.
 
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darktable user on Mac right now (seriously considering a switch to Linux). Like @Darmok N Jalad I have a folder on my computer where I import my RAW images to (I call it "Local Edit"). I then cull and edit from there. I have an "Export" folder that's a sibling to "Local Edit" that's where I store photos before they get uploaded, emailed off, etc. Once that's done exported images get deleted to save space on the small hard drive in my laptop.

Once I'm done with a photo and won't likely be editing it any further, it gets moved to an external hard drive. The external hard drive is set up very similarly to how the OP described. It's a Photos folder with years under it. Under each year is a series of folders; one for each month "01 - January", etc. and special events by month and description "05 - Katherine's Birthday".

I use rsync about once a month to backup to a second external drive that gets stored offsite and to the household NAS.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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seriously considering a switch to Linux
I've been back and forth between MacOS and Linux for a few years now. When I gave up gaming, Windows was out, and Linux became much easier to adopt, and darktable keeps getting better (it runs so much better on Linux, too). I mainly stayed with Apple due to the ease of sharing photos in the family, but I'll find a new way to do that. I've never really cared for Windows 10, and Windows 11 doesn't look any more appealing to me. I use Windows all day at work, so I'm no stranger to it, and maybe that's part of it.

I will say, Ubuntu 21.04 is really pretty nice. The switch to Wayland really adds some snap to the feel of the OS. PopOS and Mint are other really good distros. You can't seem to avoid the Terminal entirely with Linux, but it's usually not very hard either. Didn't require much at all with 21.04.
 
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I've been back and forth between MacOS and Linux for a few years now. When I gave up gaming, Windows was out, and Linux became much easier to adopt, and darktable keeps getting better (it runs so much better on Linux, too). I mainly stayed with Apple due to the ease of sharing photos in the family, but I'll find a new way to do that. I've never really cared for Windows 10, and Windows 11 doesn't look any more appealing to me. I use Windows all day at work, so I'm no stranger to it, and maybe that's part of it.

I will say, Ubuntu 21.04 is really pretty nice. The switch to Wayland really adds some snap to the feel of the OS. PopOS and Mint are other really good distros. You can't seem to avoid the Terminal entirely with Linux, but it's usually not very hard either. Didn't require much at all with 21.04.

I have been considering moving more to Linux myself. I used it for a couple years before I bought an iMac. But I also use an iPhone so I figure I might as well stay with MacOS.

I store all my photos in a directory structure by year; Lightroom puts them in the right folders so moving files would be easy.

What phone OS are you using?

I realize I'm getting a bit of topic.
 

Darmok N Jalad

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I have been considering moving more to Linux myself. I used it for a couple years before I bought an iMac. But I also use an iPhone so I figure I might as well stay with MacOS.

I store all my photos in a directory structure by year; Lightroom puts them in the right folders so moving files would be easy
What phone OS are you using?

I realize I'm getting a bit of topic.
Currently an iPhone, but I have an e Foundation phone on order. Supposed to offer a de-googled Android phone experience, but still with access to apps. Not sure how the experience will go, but my expectations for a phone are pretty low. I don’t use many apps outside of phone, mail, text, and browser. I can put pcloud on it, so I‘ll be able to get to all the photos/files on my home PC, and will also be able to auto-upload any photos taken with the phone.

Yeah, we are wandering a bit off topic, but it’s semi-related. How we store our content while also being able to access it readily is just as important.
 

Brownie

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I keep them in the same folder that the originals were uploaded to. I create a subfolder called 'Processed', and once I've completed a photo the end result jpeg goes there. The sidecars and everything else stay in the original.

Folders are sorted by date. If it's a specific subject matter like a museum or event, it gets named as such.

BTW, for those using Windows, it's better to not use the photo program as your uploader. Create the folder, open the SD card, select all, and drag/drop to the desired location. It's a heck of a lot faster than letting Windows do it through the photo program.
 

Danny_SWE

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I use Lightroom. Standard behaviour is that it creates folders based on date taken. But I have them under year/month folder also.
Inside Lightroom I use various database features. Mostly tagging with keyword. But also geotagging, when out I almost always has a GPS-log to use, which I use to do.
Can be handy to find pics from a certain region.
That is what I mostly do, have tried using Collections but that is overkill for my workflow so not using that too much. Mostly browse in Navigator only.

Exported ones are a mess, except the best ones that goes to FlickR where I have done many albums to sort them in.
 

pake

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Step 1: Copy (or move) the JPEGS & raws from camera to "D:\RAW FILES\[name (year)]"-folder with a name of the event (or just the year if it's a handful of misc photos)

Step 2: Import the raws to LR. Edit. Delete the unwanted photos. Export the processed files to the "Lightroom exports" subfolder.

Step 3: Finalize the photos in PS. And then create a new folder "D:\DOCUMENTS\PHOTOS\[category]\[event name ([date or year])\" and move the photos there. Sometimes leave out the "category" part.

Step 4: Copy the original JPEGS & raws to 2-3 different external drives for archiving.

Step 5: Delete the original JPEGS & raws from the internal drive.

Step 6: Next project.

Totally software/OS independent. Easy to adapt to any kind of changes.
 
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ralf-11

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date taken is already searchable

I use location or other folder (sub-dir) names: e.g. Washington/North Cascades, Washington/Mt. St. Helens, etc.

or Cars/Italian/Maserati, Cars/Italian/Alfa, or Porsche/911/My 1975, Porsche/911/My 1973/Suspension

I use LR6 but hate money grubbing Adobe so don't rely too much on it...
 

Jrsforums

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I use DownloaderPro (Windows only)

Organization is Photos/year/month/day-description (Photos/2021/08/11-jobcode)

image files are renamed year- month-day_hour-min-sec-x (where ‘x’is an alpha designation for sub-second times a,b,c,d….)
 

pake

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I use DownloaderPro (Windows only)

Organization is Photos/year/month/day-description (Photos/2021/08/11-jobcode)

image files are renamed year- month-day_hour-min-sec-x (where ‘x’is an alpha designation for sub-second times a,b,c,d….)
Maaan, it would be so nice if Oly cameras were able to save the filenames with a timestamp and suffix (e.g. "20210812_101058_01.orf"). Even just the date would suffice ("20210810_0001.orf").
 

John King

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Maaan, it would be so nice if Oly cameras were able to save the filenames with a timestamp and suffix (e.g. "20210812_101058_01.orf"). Even just the date would suffice ("20210810_0001.orf").
Teemu, they do. However, the year is omitted.

When I upload from card to computer, the files go into a folder with a name of card-photographer-year.

The uploader renames the file by adding a prefix and suffix to the original filename. e.g.

E-510_JAK_2010-_2206232_Ewf.jpg

By having the original camera filename embedded, I can always find all copies of the file.

In the above example, the original camera filename is _2206232.jpg, where _ = sRGB; 220 = Feb 20; and 6232 = camera filename, without colour space and month day.

It's all in the manual somewhere!
 

pake

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Teemu, they do. However, the year is omitted.

When I upload from card to computer, the files go into a folder with a name of card-photographer-year.

The uploader renames the file by adding a prefix and suffix to the original filename. e.g.

E-510_JAK_2010-_2206232_Ewf.jpg

By having the original camera filename embedded, I can always find all copies of the file.

In the above example, the original camera filename is _2206232.jpg, where _ = sRGB; 220 = Feb 20; and 6232 = camera filename, without colour space and month day.

It's all in the manual somewhere!
Hmm... Maybe I can work around it too. I need to look into it then. At least it would be better than than my current setup. Thanks!

EDIT:
Nope. The manual says this:
1628953434304.png
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)


But my E-M5 won't let me add small caps at all and M's and D's are just M's and D's in the filename.
 
Last edited:

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