How to organise photo-folder in lightroom?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Sniksekk, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Sniksekk

    Sniksekk Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 7, 2015

    I`ve used the 30 day lightroom trial thing, and decided to go for it.

    But I have a issue, I have no idea how to organise folders in lightroom. I mean, I`ve always shot raw and JPG, and saved every photo on my NAS server.

    Usually I empty my camera once a month, and cause of that I have a folder like this.

    Pictures/01.03.15 etc etc.

    When I go on a holiday I have a folder like this

    Is this a good enough way to use, or is there another more logical way to organise my picture folders?

    What do you guys do?

    I would just love to get this the right way straight away, since I think (no idea) that it will be a major hazzle to re-organise the folders later on.
  2. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    I don't use LR, but I have a set of folders for Events, Travel, etc., and each 'shoot' gets a folder within those titled by location and/or event name, often including names of people shot... That is followed by date... E.g.
    /photos/TRAVEL/USA/California/Sea World San Diego w Scott 2014-01-01/

    Be sure to do any moving within LR or you have to re-import.

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  3. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I save all my photos in a format like this - Photos/OMD/EM1/2015/August

    I have an EM5 also so it gets a folder on get the idea

    I download my photos after every shoot except for my EM5 that take everywhere with me. I download those when the mood strikes me or if I really want to see how a photo came out. I will add some initial keywords to the photos on import (downloading after a shoot makes this so much easier) that help for sorting and organizing. I have a bunch of keywords made up that are for organizational purposes only and that do not export with the other keywords when I post the photos (love that feature in LR). Then within LR I have smart folders set up for anything that I may need, some example smart folders I use:

    Water Birds
    Green Herons
    Birds in Flight
    Herons in Flight
    Green Herons in Flight
    Dock Dogs

    I have a lot of different ones and everything is all nicely organized. If I need something specific I can always search via keyword. Like I can find all photos of a green heron catching a frog on land (not in the water) at Brazos Bend State Park taken with my EM5 and Lester Dine Macro. The power of keywords in LR is so amazing that you could save every photo into a one folder and be perfectly organized in LR. I have found that using camera/year/month works very well for me. The trick is you have to keep up with your keywords or it all falls apart. Problem is that it can be time consuming, especially when you first start using it. I am so happy I made the switch to this format years ago. I also have smart folders that hold all the photos that I have uploaded to places like - my website, IG, FB, Flickr, DPC photo challenges.

    Hope this helps someone wondering about this also. While it may not work for you maybe I have provided some ideas you can use in your own way. My photography friends are tired of hearing about keywording and why they should start doing it.
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  4. piggsy

    piggsy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 2, 2014
    Brisbane, Australia
    Is there any way to tell LR's library to structure photos in the left hand library pane by their full path rather than only the deepest name of the folder they're in? I have to say this is my main hate about it, its attempt to be some kind of central photo repository rather than just a dumb program I use for some functions on some photos sometimes. I mean, it's like they collected every single dumb idea anyone ever had when attempting to re-invent the wheel for metadata based file organisation, with the typical result (convoluted, slow, requires hilariously intense amounts of user intervention, etc).
    • Like Like x 1
  5. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Real Name:
    My folder structure is Master/yyyy/"yyyy-mm-dd shoot name"

    So each time I ingest, I'll create a folder for the shoot (or perhaps several shoots, if there's more than one on the card) with the date and the shoot name. I also tell LR to rename each image with the date, the shoot name and the original image file name. So if I was in Vermont last weekend (I was), the new folder is in Master/2015 and is called "2015-07-30 Vermont". The image files in the folder will be named 20150730-Vermont-_SGA0037.orf.

    This all gives me a chance of finding an image later if I was either lazy or not farsighted about key wording, or I have a calamity and loose the catalog and all backups. But the real power comes from keywording the images: Sunrise, Sunset, Lake, Musician, etc. each image can have as many keywords as you like. I might also update the location metadata with "Vermont".

    Years later I can search for "Vermont" "and "Lake" and actually find it. Or, if I forgot to keyword, filenames that include Vermont and look for dates in the summer.

    And this structure does show the folders in the left panel sorted by their full name, which in my case is also by date.
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  6. Tominthevan

    Tominthevan New to Mu-43

    Dec 21, 2014
    Ottawa, ON
    Real Name:
    Tom Moore
    It seems I have a different arrangement. I have (or have had) several cameras, so I simply have a folder for each camera. Yes, some folders are pretty large. I leave the file names as determined by the camera.

    To organize images I use collections. I create a collection for each set of images I import. These import collections are organized by year and date of import. I find the import collections useful for finding things later. I'm not that consistent at tagging images.

    For some activities (such as a trip or an important event) I create additional collections some of which may include images from more than one camera.

    For example, after a trip with several cameras (e.g. my EM-10 and my cell phone) I import the images into the appropriate folder for each camera creating an import collection for the set of images imported from each camera. I might then create another collection named according the trip destination or event with all of the images from the two cameras. I might then cull some of the images from that collection to make a trip narrative or create other collections with a specific focus related to the trip.

    I find my process convenient and flexible. The downside is that I am totally dependent on Lightroom for organization. That was a trade-off I decided to make.
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  7. Sniksekk

    Sniksekk Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 7, 2015
    Great answers!
    I was hoping at the best a link to a site explaining different techniques but you guys (and girls) are much more awesome!

    Guess I have the work cut out for me this weekend. :-D
  8. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I keep it simple and use -

    yyyy-mm-dd | <topic/subject/occassion or location>
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  9. 350duser

    350duser Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 26, 2012
    Brisbane, QLD
    I have a folde structure as follows:
    Year - Event name (eg. Daily walks, or a birthday) - Save photos in that folder as per date of shoot with keywords if specific things shot.

    I back up my HDD to 2 other HDD yearly thru LR.

    Have done that using smart previews and can now look and work on my photos since 2006 on LR without hooking a HDD.
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  10. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 17, 2012
    My workflow: At the start of each year, I create a folder for that year. Each time I import photos, I create a folder named by date, or occasionally an event or topic name within the current year folder. In that folder, I create 3 folders, raws, tiffs and jpgs. I import the raws into lightroom, so within lightroom they are organised by year>import date (or year>event/topic) and I export them as tiffs. The tiffs might be further edited in PS and/or saved as jpgs for web or sharing.
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  11. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Real Name:
    I have no special reason to separate pictures other than the date.
    So I have a folder per day inside a single month folder.
    To make navigation quicker, I usually add a description to the day folder name.
    - 2015

    _____+01 January
    _____+02 February
    _____- 03 March
    __________ 01 Macro Spider
    __________ 02
    __________ 03 Sunset
    __________ 04 Holiday Flight

    I separate JPGs from RAW inside each folder with group by type.
    I then keyword individual pictures for peoples names or any category that I might need to search for.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
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  12. Ricoh

    Ricoh Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 2, 2013
    Real Name:
    According to those who have more experience, the scheme needs to be 'scaleable', so following received wisdom I employ Year, Month and dump all my shots as appropriate to when they were taken. I use key words and collections to organise my shots. Works ok for me.
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  13. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    I do not deal with folder structures in Lightroom. When I import, I have a dedicated drive that holds the images. The folder has the date and description of what I shot.

    Within Lightroom, I use extensive keywording on all my images and collections.

    For repeat client work, I have a collection set for the client, collection set for event, collection set for the year/date, then collections for all images, then a "selects" collection for the images that I provide to the client.

    Between that and the auto collections/metadata I can find whatever I'm looking for pretty quickly.
  14. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Real Name:
    Knowledgeable people say add tags or keywords from day one. Otherwise years down the line you'll never find anything. Which I believe, but never get round to doing.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  15. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Real Name:
    Doing it right after import is a habit I've gotten into. Didn't always. When I had to catch up, I would dedicate an hour or 2 a week until caught up.
  16. dwig

    dwig Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 26, 2010
    Key West FL
    I use two different schemes, one at home for my personal work and one at work (I'm the chief "Photoshop Jockey" for an art photographer).

    My personal stuff is all in folder trees my subject first, date second if necessary for a repeating event (birthdays, ...). I make heavy use of Lr's Collections to provide other overlapping sort methods (e.g. "My Beautiful Wife", a particular book project, ...). I like having a "human readable" folder structure so that Lr isn't critical to finding images.

    At work, all new images that the photographer takes are sorted by date under a folder for the camera used. The sorting is done automatically by Lr during import. Images from clients that are to be used to create mockups of the photographer's work as it would look in the clients living room, etc., are first manually sorted into folders under the client's name and them "Added" to the Lr catalog without moving them. Lr is used for RAW conversion and some initial image processing. The new art is further processed outside of Lr and final print images are filed in a human readable folder structure by title and not managed by Lr, largely for historical reasons (the library of print files is way older than Lr) and because Lr can't handle some of the larger images (~8gb+).

    If you choose to use metadata (keywords, etc), Lr can easily add this during import. If you have repeating metadata, you can save it as a preset to apply to a future import. I do this with copyright data both at work and at home.
  17. sammykhalifa

    sammykhalifa Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    Pittsburgh PA
    Real Name:
    Yeah, save them by date; then organize the trips, different shoots, etc. by "Collections"
    • Agree Agree x 2
  18. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    I use LR6 just the 'edit' part.

    For photo storage and management I use the 'Pictures' file on my MacBook.

    That way I find I do what 'I' want to do and not what LR6 wants me to do.
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  19. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    I just let LR organize by date folders upon import. If it's a large project where there's hundreds of shots or more, then I'll put them into a separate "Catalog". Then the images are tagged, color labeled and put into a "Collection". By doing it this way, I not only have a visual based on color label but can also find any image within LR with speed and ease just by searching for tags or looking up a collection.

    At the end of the year, I put the whole year onto a separate solid state drive as a third backup for safe keeping to the files that are on my server which is a simple redundancy RAID 1.
  20. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Exactly. I know it's not supposed to be used this way, but I've always used Lightroom to import raw files, make adjustments then export them out. I have my own filing system and had a couple of unpleasant experiences many years ago with Aperture's file structure being corrupted and my images being lost (lucky I backed up). That was enough to to make me stop using Aperture altogether and I don't want the same thing happening with LR.
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