Any program (iPhoto, Aperture etc.) that can organise a folder structure?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hafr, May 14, 2013.

  1. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #1
    One of the biggest reasons to why I'm using iTunes is its capability to organise the files in a decent folder structure, since this means I can easily navigate to what I want to see without having to use iTunes.

    At the moment, I'm using iPhoto simply because it came with the computer, it's simple and I don't really edit the photos more than removing red eyes and adjusting colours (most often I simply press the "magic wand" button for an automatic adjustment for the pictures that I want physical copies of. I also use PhoShare for exporting the files into folders named after the events in iPhoto.

    But, since the latest iPhoto update, PhoShare is no longer supported and it can no longer export originals - which is pretty annoying since it means that a picture that has been edited in any way, even rotated, will lose its original date. This is fairly annoying since I organise pictures according to date in Finder due to using several cameras.

    The only other alternative I've found is called Photo to Disk, but it's absolutely worthless when it comes to detecting changes in already exported events which makes it uninteresting for me. But my guess is I'm just very lousy at finding what I reckon there must be a pretty large demand for.

    So I turn to you... Is there a program like iPhoto that keeps a neat folder structure the way iTunes does, or is there a program like iPhoto that has a plugin or a way of exporting the original (I don't care about the edited) photos into a decent folder structure and detect changes (deleting or moving files that have been deleted and moved, and won't overwrite one picture with another if they happen to have the same name)?
     
  2. macrumors 6502

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    #2
    There are many options that do this at varying price points: Adobe Lightroom, Phase One's Capture1, ACDsee Pro 2, and several others. All are fantastic, but most of these tools have a strong focus on editing so may be more than you need. Based on your position (using the app mainly for management rather than editing) I'd recommend Aperture or ACDsee Pro2.

    I think Aperture is probably the best solution for your needs. If you're coming from iPhoto then your current library will work right away and it will let you make non-destructive edits and export originals. Aperture also lets you manage a "Referenced library", where your photos can live anywhere on your hard drive and Aperture just points to the originals rather than importing them. By doing this you can chose the file structure of all your photos (but bear in mind, if you move any of these folders then the link will break so you'll need to point aperture to the new folder location afterwards).

    With ACDsee you don't need to import your files or create a library - it just sees all your images wherever they currently are. If you move a folder in ACDsee then it moves it on your HDD; move it using the Finder and ACDsee will automatically see it in its new location. Sounds nice and easy, HOWEVER, you must always remember that you're working with live/original files. You mentioned overwriting pictures with the same name - it's my understanding that ACDsee will work just like Finder does, so if you make an edit that overwrites the original then there's no going back. If you're working with raw files then the edits will be non destructive, but you'll still need to be aware of duplicate file names.

    Hope that helps.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #3
    Thank you for your answer! Keeping the folder structure separate from the library, which is the case with iPhoto and Aperture when choosing to not import the pictures into the app library itself, is what I used to do. But moving pictures around always caused broken links when moving the actual file, and discrepancy between the folders and the events. Having to locate individual files after having discovered a picture or two had entered the wrong event just takes a bit too long for my taste.

    ACDsee (I tried the trial on their webpage) is pretty sweet, but still not what I'm after. The whole family uses this computer, and it just gets a bit too risky using a Finder with editing capabilities ;) Plus, I know from experience that someone (read: the wife) will import the same pictures over and over again because she doesn't like removing them from the memory card and then can't be bothered to only import the ones she hasn't already imported... "Who has time to worry about duplicates" she says. The one who has to pay for the storage, I say ;)

    It really is a shame that iPhoto doesn't organise the pictures according to event in the package itself, the way iTunes does...
     
  4. macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Yes, iTunes makes it nice and easy - it does use a catalog similar to the ones used by raw converters, but hides it from the user. Perhaps it can do this because iTunes is able to tag the mp3s/aacs to follow them around the HDD but the raw converters can't tag raw images (they can only add notes to the catalog)? I'm not really sure why, but unfortunately I don't think there is a solution that manages images exactly the way iTunes manages music.

    One thing you could consider is using multiple managed iPhoto libraries - a new one for each subject/shoot/event. That would let you create your own folder structure to manage where these libraries reside on your HDD, but by using managed libraries (rather than referenced) you won't get broken links if you move a folder.

    For example, you could have the folder structure: 'Vacations > 2012 > Mexico' and inside that folder have a single iPhoto library that only contains photos taken on that trip. If your wife happened to import the same photos again, it would be into a brand new library. When moving that new library to the appropriate place in your "Vacations" folder you'd immediately see that you already have a library covering these shots so you could delete one of them.

    Using this approach, if you decide you want to move any of your libraries (say you saved it under the wrong year by mistake) then you can just pick up the folder containing the library and move it to the right place within your structure.

    The big downside of this approach is that you can't compare all your photos in one place. But depending on how many photos you have that may not be a bad thing - computer runs faster, easier to backup, easier to spot duplicates.
     
  5. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #5
    Thanks for your input!

    Several libraries isn't really an option... I think I'll keep using PhoShare and just accept the fact that the dates will be wrong on some of the pictures. At least they're in folders with the actual dates :) PhoShare really is ridiculously easy to use and it does exactly what I want. It seems like the solution for the small problem of not being able to export the originals instead of the current photos causes larger problems, so we'll go for the lesser evil here ;)
     
  6. macrumors 603

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    #6
    Why don't you just, in the side-panel, set-up and use nested Folders and Albums inside iPhoto? Ignore Events, for the most part - and absolutely ignore using the Finder. What you are bumping up against is that all Digital Asset Managers, like iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom, don't want you to move or edit photos except through their interface. They each maintain a database separate from the images that records everything you do to an image - metadata, edits, flags, ratings, etc. The image itself is never altered. So, anything that changes that image - outside of the DAM - messes up the database.

    So... just set up your nested folder structure within the DAM, using the Folders and Albums (iPhoto/Aperture) or Collections/Collection Sets (Lightroom). I don't know ACDSee at all, sorry.

    This nested structure has some advantages. First of all, it exists only virtually... so you can have a photo in as many different Albums as you want with no storage penalties. If you tag a photo with a keyword or edit it, those changes are reflected in each Album the photos appears in. If you create a Virtual Copy (say, keep one copy in colour and make the other copy monochrome) there is no storage penalty. You can then treat each copy independently.

    The trick is getting used to not really caring where the actual physical copies actually reside. All you need to know is where to find it within the catalogue. One of the other tricks is getting used to deleting extraneous copies. For instance... you create resized versions to give to someone when you export the images - say to the desktop. After that person has receives their photos, you gotta delete them from the desktop. There is no reason to keep them. You still have the originals, and you can create more copies whenever you wish.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. macrumors G4

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    #7
    Get Aperture. It has MUCH better organization ability than iPhoto and it can directly import an iPhoto library and keep all your edits. Yes it can export "masters" or "versions" which is Aperture's words originals and edits. THe price is not to bad.
     
  8. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #8
    Thanks a lot for the tip regarding the folders and albums in iPhoto, probably gonna take a closer look at that.

    When it comes to files, I detest even the idea to not have absolute control over where my important files are (or at least copies of them), or to have a carefully organised structure be turned into a mess of files everywhere. What happens if I no longer want to use iPhoto or any other application that can read its database? I'll be screwed, that's what.

    I've used a digital camera since 1997, even the thought of letting the organisation of my photos be done solely in an application that is so far from open source it possibly can be (not even an API as far as I know) is something that makes me feel a bit dizzy ;) I've already lost YEARS worth of pictures (I don't have a single one, shot by me, from 2001 till 2005) due to being stupid. And should I lose the database in iPhoto telling me which pictures were taken during which event (whose birthday was this? Where was it?) - well, you can imagine the work it would have to take to be able to even be close to reorganise it...

    So my want for a folder structure is to not be dependent on iPhoto, making it a less than optimal solution to completely depend on iPhoto ;)
     
  9. macrumors 68020

    Kebabselector

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    #9
    Lightroom offers this as well, I use my Canon software to organise the file structure.

    Currently my images are imported into a Year/Month/Day directory structure with an image name containing Body Serial Number, Date and image number - the latter helps with not getting any duplicate image names when the folder loops from 9999 back to 1 (also I had 2 identical cameras when I started using this system, so that's why the body serial is part of the filename).

    All my images are keyworded on import to Lightroom which enables me for find things fast.
     
  10. macrumors 603

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    #10
    To answer your question. You make sure you have a backup of the database. I'm actually surprised at how cavalier Apple is about the database.... as far I know iPhoto does not do its own independent backup of the database. In anycase... you backup the catalogue, and if you ever find you need to leave iPhoto you simply export the images, Album by Album into your structure. There is probably even a script that will do it automagically. The extra work you may need to do is balanced by the extra work you will be doing every day to duplicating the work that a DAM can do for you.

    For instance... (I even used this example in a workshop I just taught).... You have a photo of your best friend and your sister dressed as Dalmatians for a Halloween party from 2006. Let's say that Halloween, as well as Dalmatians, are almost a religion for you. Later they get married and have a couple of kids. Now the 4 of them, plus the 2 real Dalmatians come over this past Christmas and you get another photo.

    Photo A: Where do you file it?
    Best Friend?
    Family?
    Sister?
    Halloween?
    Halloween 2006?
    Dalmatians?

    Photo B:
    Best Friend?
    Family?
    Nieces & Nephews?
    Sister?
    Christmas?
    Christmas 2012?
    Dalmatians?

    With a nested folder structure you either have make copies of the photos.... a storage penalty. Or you have to choose among several good choices. And when a person's affiliation with you changes you either need to keep filing new photos of them in their old affiliation or; start filing the new photos under the new affiliation or; go back and move all of the old photos to the new affiliation. And you won't get them all.

    Where you save work with a DAM is that the answer is you would file them in each and every Album/Collection. With no storage penalty. Plus, if you edit the photo or add a keyword in one Album, those changes are reflected in all Albums/Collections.

    Regardless of the system you are using, if you don't back up then you risk losing your images. I suspect backing up is not an issue though - you hinted you may have been burned once already.

    Most DAMs don't hide their images as thoroughly as iPhoto. Lightroom by default puts images into a Year/Folder/Day structure. So even if a worst case scenario - and I can't conceive of a scenario where I would lose my database and not my photos - they are still there.

    One thing to keep in mind, is that if you are using a DAM at all, then any images you access outside of the application's interface are compromised... in the sense that edits you have done, any keywording, captioning, titling, etc will not reflected in that image. All of that stuff is recorded in the database. All you will see is the image as it came out of the camera.

    ===

    One of the things I like about Lightroom is that it takes the database seriously. I have my photos on a HDD separate from my system files, and each HDD is separately backed up nightly. Once a day Lightroom copies the database to the System Disk. That's one backup copy. Each night the Photo HDD and System HDD get copied. That's backups #2 & #3. Plus I have Time Machine backing up the System files - so that is backup #4. That is all done automatically - no extra work. Plus, I pop my Photo backup HDD into a safety deposit box on a regular basis. That is backup #5 of the database, and the only extra work I need to do to save myself the extra work of having to decide where to file each and every photo. And then, later, to remember where put the photo that could have gone into several different places.

    ====

    One last story. I came from the world of film. With film you made contact sheets (a print) from the negatives in a plastic sleeve. I used to try and file my negatives by project, by event, by year, whatever. Nothing really worked well. My world became a much simpler place when I learned that serious professionals tended file their negatives simply by date or serial number with no attempt to organize them into topics. It was the contact sheets that were organized by topic or them. Each contact sheet had a file number that corresponded to the sleeve of negatives. It was a very rudimentary database system, I suppose. A DAM simply takes that idea, and makes it better.

    Hope this helps.

    Not trying to convince you that you are doing wrong... you have to do what works for you. I'm simply trying to point out that you may be working harder than you have to, and that there are ways to minimize the risk to the levels that all digital media have. Having a database does not mean you have to have an elevated risk of loss.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #11
    I do, I have it backed up in two locations :) As well as the pictures in their catalogue structure ;)

    Well, as I said in my OP I already use an automated export tool :) It's called PhoShare and exports all pictures into a decent folder structure. See OP again for more info on why I was looking for an alternative.

    I store them under Pictures\2006\10\Halloween\ and Pictures\2012\12\Christmas respectively :) That's how I was thought to organise the family photo albums as a kid, that's how I was told to organise my negatives once done with a project, so it works for me :)

    I know, which is why I don't use a referenced library but instead have iPhoto copy the pictures into the app.

    But what do you do the day that Lightroom is no longer supported, or you feel like moving to another software?

    The thing is I'm not working hard at all. I run an app once in a while to have my iPhoto library mirrored into a file structure that I like to have since if the database would become corrupt, I move to a different OS or anything else - I'll already have all my pictures organised exactly how I like it and I don't have to worry about anything :) There's just a minor annoyance with how the newest iPhoto meant it broke the support to automatically export only the originals instead of the current versions so I was looking for a solution as perfect as this one was before the latest iPhoto update :)
     
  12. macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #12
    I felt the same way, used Finder (well, Windows Explorer since I came from windows) and only DAM programs that would handle photos in place.

    However I've since gone to Aperture and having it manage the photos. This has made my life much easier. For instance when I go on a trip I create a new library and import all my photos into my MBP while I travel. I edit most images, grade them, and add notes in some cases. When I get home I just move the library to my main machine and I've got all the originals and all the edits in one place. I'll usually then merge that library into my main travel library. I use the vault system to keep archival backups.

    Frankly, except for the ability to use Finder it really does everything you want. All the originals are available, dates are maintained, you can create nested folders within Aperture as well as smart folders if you want to view in different ways (such as pictures you've marked as 5-star or those taken with a particular focal length). It easily manages multiple photo libraries.

    As to concern about accessing the images, the library is a "package" which can be opened in Finder and the originals are all accessible in a sub-folder called Masters which is subdivided by date and time the photo was taken. Of course you can also use the export facility. As an added advantage, any application that has the media browser can import images from the Aperture database (as it can from the iPhoto database) much more easily than an image can be imported from the file dialog.
     
  13. macrumors 6502

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    #13
    You may want to consider a workaround solution like I use: Inside my "User > Photos" folder I have a folder called "Photos in Lightroom". Everything inside it is referenced from my Lightroom catalog. It has a normal, working sub-folder structure, but it reminds me that I cannot move or edit anything inside that folder using any tool other than lightroom. I feel this gives me the best of both worlds – I’m using a referenced folder structure that I created myself so I know where everything is and it’s easy to backup, but by keeping my photos that are inside lightroom and my photos that are not inside lightroom separate, I know that I won’t make any adjustments that could give me problems down the line.

    This is something you're going to need to consider regardless of which solution you choose. Adobe isn't going anywhere for quite some time – arguably you're at far more risk using iPhoto as Apple will make changes & drop features at a whim.
    Even if Adobe disappeared tomorrow and support stopped, you can export all your raws, as well as the edits you've made as full quality jpegs, then import both into your new app of choice.
    If you just want to switch to another editor then leave all the old stuff where it is. I recently switched from lightroom4 to aperture3 – I certainly don't want the hassle of moving my entire lightroom catalog over, but I create any new work in aperture. I may eventually chose to move back, in which case I’ll leave my Aperture projects where they are.
     
  14. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #14
    Oh, your misinterpreting me. I absolutely LOVE the way iPhoto simplifies everything and I'm not looking to move away from it per se. It's for the future. For instance, when I migrated over to OS X a while back, I simply imported my whole Pictures catalogue from the NAS into iPhoto and it was done. I can't imagine it would have been that easy should I want to move back to Windows and only have everything in iPhoto...

    The photos are imported into iPhoto according to imported date and time, and exporting event by event isn't really an option. Especially not compared to the solution I'm using now: press one button and the folder structure on my NAS gets updated and mirrors the iPhoto library :)
     
  15. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #15
    The way I have it setup now is that all my new photos get imported into iPhoto, I organise them into events, and then I start the app PhoShare and hit Export. This syncs my folder structure on the NAS with any and all changes I've made in iPhoto since the last time. If I've renamed an event, moved a photo, duplicated, removed, edited - everything.

    So I always work in and with iPhoto, and I also have all the pictures as files in a proper folder structure exactly the way I like it. I never touch the photos on the NAS, but I do use an app on the iPhone, iPad etc. to look at them (since iPhoto for some strange reason doesn't allow home sharing like iTunes).

    The reason I'm looking for a similar solution is because I can no longer export the originals, only the edited versions, which messes up the dates in the files' info.


    Not with my solution, since everything is already exported ;) I can delete iPhoto right now and lose nothing. There is no hassle what so ever for me to switch OS or app.
     
  16. macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Apologies - I think we're maybe all over-thinking your problem and making things far more complicated than they need to be. Sounds like the solution you already use is the best option :)
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #17
    That's what I was afraid of... The utterly amazing and perfect solution for my needs made me greedy when a teeny tiny problem occurred :)

    But I've found a similar, more powerful solution for Lightroom though, in case anyone is interested: http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/folder-publisher

    Thank you all for your input and suggestions!
     
  18. macrumors 6502

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    #18
    What about Picasa? I used to use that before I moved fully to Mac and iPhoto/Aperture.

    It handles fine your folder structure, plus it will even display (read only) photos in your iPhoto library.
     
  19. macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    Finder/Windows Explorer don't tell you where the files really are. Bits and pieces of each file are strewn across the hard disk. It's the job of the OS's file manager to keep track of where all those bits and pieces are, and regurgitate them when you need a file. The only thing that's neat and compartmentalized in the way that you imagine (a place for everything and everything in its place) is the graphical representation of the folder structure you've built and (hopefully) maintain.

    Your OS's file manager is effectively a database management program, which allows you to store, retrieve, and manipulate that data.

    iPhoto, Aperture, and Lightroom are also (among other things) specialized database management programs, optimized to the needs of photographers. They are designed to preserve the originals, untouched. They have tools for organizing and finding photos in ways you can't possibly do with an OS file manager. Your file manager doesn't read EXIF data. You want to find every shot you took with a particular camera or lens? You want to use facial recognition to find photos of a beloved family member who just passed on? How about sorting geographically? Date the photo was taken? Don't ask OS X or Windows, unless your custom-built file structure fully anticipated your needs.

    The whole computing world is a matter of trust. We trust that a bucketful of ones and zeros can be reconstituted into something resembling an image, or the instructions to a microprocessor for decoding said image. You've learned to trust your computer's OS, and take the necessary precautions against disaster. It's no different with these programs. Trust them to do the drudge work, keep backups, and reap the rewards.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #20
    I'm well aware of this (I've recovered enough busted up hard drives in my days to be fooled into believing something else ;)), but the huge difference is that a folder structure on a hard drive is way, way more accessible than a folder structure in for instance iPhoto and run less risk of being obsolete.

    As I said, I'm not looking to move away from using a DAM... I'm looking for a DAM that can keep an updated/synced folder structure outside of its own database in order for me to be less dependent on its database, should it become obsolete or break down - which is much, much more probable when it comes to iPhoto than HFS+, exFAT or ext4 which are the three file systems I'm keeping the folder structure on. The EXIF data is within the file, so even if it's not as easily accessible in Finder, it's still there which is the most important thing.

    I'm using a DAM, I'm using its database, but I want to keep an updated mirrored folder structure for security reasons. Telling me to just trust the DAM in full is, to me, like telling me a second backup is superfluous :)
     
  21. macrumors 603

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    #21
    My experience is with Lightroom, so other DAMs may be similar - but I can't comment on them.

    As other's have said (at least I think they said so in this thread, I'm posting in a couple of threads).... Lightroom keeps its photos in a visible Folder structure. It is important to not mess with this Folder structure outside of Lightroom. I keep my Lightroom images in a Folder clearly marked as Lightroom so I keep my mitts off of them. I believe others have said the same. By default it will keep the images sorted in a YYYY-MM-DD format, the date pulled from the day of the exposure and not day of import.

    You can move and rename these Folders - as long as you do from within Lightroom - into a named and nested structure. This structure is separate and independent from the Collections (Albums) structure. Unless you create a physical duplicate, a photo can appear in only one Folder - while it can 'virtually' appear in multiple Collections.

    When you import you can specify which physical folder the images will be moved into, as well as setting Keywords etc. You can then either spend a few minutes after the import to finish sorting the images into the physical folders (if the import includes images that need to be in different folders) or you can import in several runs - each run putting those images into a particular folder.

    After importing, and the initial sort into Folders, you can continue with the Collections and Keywords phase.

    Also note that Lightroom also includes the ability to copy the images, as they are being imported, into a second location. Essentially mirroring the original files. I haven't used this feature so I don't know if the mirrored images are in a mirrored Folder structure or something else.

    ====

    To answer your questions to me, earlier.

    If Adobe stops supporting Lightroom I will simply continue using the version I have. While I didn't choose Lightroom because it will be supported for the foreseeable future, I wouldn't have moved to Lightroom unless I was confident that it would be safe to do so. Lightroom is part of the Photoshop family, and Photoshop has been around since the beginning.

    If, for whatever reason, I moved from Lightroom I would do one of two things. I would either continue using Lightroom for my earlier images and put my new images into the new application. When I need to use the older images I would export them from the legacy application and reimport into the current application. I do that with my negatives... I only scan those that I end up needing. I used iPhoto for awhile before moving to Lightroom, and if I need an iPhoto image I find it and put it into Lightroom.

    But if I really really needed to move from Lightroom, I would simply do what I do when I move house. I pack and label and move it bit by bit into the new location. Knowing that I may have to pack and box everything I own if I move houses doesn't mean I live in this house any differently. My images are the same way.

    I've been in the computer business long enough to have had several file formats disappear on me, so I do understand your concerns. For me... I'm just not worried about my current setup. YMMV, of course. But I hope this helps.
     
  22. macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
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    #22
    But the database in iPhoto (or Aperture) contains the images in the file system so there is no problem recovering them:
     

    Attached Files:

  23. thread starter macrumors 68030

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    #23
    Oh, LR does that? That's fantastic! I'm definitely going to take a look at that then, because if it keeps a folder structure like the one in the actual program and is also able to sync it to a second location - that's EXACTLY what I had in mind when I started the thread :)

    It helped a great deal, thank you very much!

    ----------

    True, but organised by imported date, meaning loads of work should I extract them straight from there and want to keep them into a sensible folder structure :)
     
  24. macrumors 603

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    #24


    If you have any specific Lightroom questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Adobe has a 30 day free trial. At the moment they have a version 5 beta out, but I'm not sure it's quite ready yet. I think the final release for version 5 is set for June... but I could be easily be wrong about that.
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    MCAsan

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    #25

    In LR by the date taken. and then I keyword the file with any needed names of people, places, animals, or events. Don't try to use file structures to make up for simple keywords and search capabilities.
     

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