Hobbyists: How do you organize your photos? (Not professionals)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 66217, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I have for almost the year I've had my camera, organized my photos in chronological order.

    For example:
    Family > Projects 2008 > 01 - January > 16 - Dinner with Family
    Hobby > Projects 2008 > 01 - January > 22 - City Lake

    Within projects (which are the last ones) I may add yellow folders to further organize photos. But sometimes I feel like if this way of organizing would end up being a complete disaster after a couple of years.:eek:

    It would be interesting to see how other people organize their photos.

    Attached Files:

  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    I travel a lot, so I have my photos organized first by country (project), then by city (album), and then by year (additional album, if I visited that city in multiple years). I haven't played around with the yellow folders at all. I'm not even sure how they work. I should probably experiment with them.
  3. emorydunn macrumors 6502


    Jun 5, 2006
    Austin Texas
    I use iPhoto '08 so I organize them by the event they were taken and then within that by date and time. I also make separate albums for certain things, such as new photos or ones with specific tags like water or trees. This method seems to work pretty well.
  4. jplan2008 macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2008
    I also use iPhoto. My events are very general and I use KEYWORDS and RATINGS so I don't need to do much organization. (I'm in an Aperture trial and so far I prefer iPhoto for ease of use for adding and assigning keywords, but maybe I just haven't found the right shortcuts yet). So, for example, everyone in my family gets keyword "family," brother John has keyword "John," if I was in New York for trip, all photos have keyword "NY," etc. It's easy to assign a keyword to multiple photos, so as I import I assign all the photos the general categories in under a minute, then it takes a few minutes to assign all the specific keywords. I have over 50 keywords, probably. Going back to previous (thousands) photos was a little time-consuming, but not too bad, and I can now find photos instantly. If I want to make a card or album as a gift for Mary, it takes seconds to create a "smart album" with photos rated over 3 stars and with the keyword "Mary," for example, or just do a keyword search for "Mary," then sort by rating. The date info is already there, so no need to add that info or organize albums that way, IMO.
  5. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I also rely a lot on keywords, tho it is also starting to get messy with over a hundred keywords. But sometimes I just prefer to search thru the projects browser.

    I am considering moving to an organization just by year. And then all the projects there. This would imply more use of albums. I could just make one project called Flowers and then use albums to put them by color or place.
  6. NeXTCube macrumors member

    May 14, 2002
    Upstate NY
    I've been using iPhoto, just making custom albums for particular events and stashing them in folders. I haven't even bothered with keywords. I've got about 20,000 photos in the library and usually the roll name or the custom album will get me close.
  7. Eraserhead macrumors G4


    Nov 3, 2005
  8. SubaruNation555 macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2007
    Arlington, VA USA
    I use Bridge to sort through the various folders of photos which are done by theme/location, not chronologically.

    Attached Files:

  9. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2005
    I love iPhoto 08, so i utilize the "Events" feature when storing photos. I find it works great for viewing and minor editing tasks.
  10. disdat macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2005
    New England USA
    Another iPhoto 08 user here.

    I use keywords, and sometimes text descriptions if I know I would like to search for a particular description later, w/out using a keyword.

    I also use Events a lot, and find that it helps in organizing.

    I use iphoto Library Manager app to organize each of my iPhoto libraries too.
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    !00 is getting on the side of having to many.

    What I do is make up a smaller set of key words. I use these to describe the "kind" on photo. Either macro, Underwater, Portrait, group shot, landscape, cityscape, product photo. and so on. Many shots are in multiple catagories. For example I do a bit of underwater macro photograph while diving at the local beach. Then I use the comments feild for the subject(s) or location. For example: person's name, animal's common name (bighorn sheep) and the location of where it was taken. In addition I rate each shot with 1 to 5 stars and I wrote down my rating criteria. (5 = publishable, 2 = not very good but maybe the only image of a given subject or some other reason to keep it. 3 = normal snapshop. 4 = very good but does not stand alone, you need some interrest in the subject to like it,like for example good shots of my kids. 1 = one step from the trash. You can't use keywords for subjects but I do have generic ones like "family member". Digital camera record the time and date but I have to enter this for my thousands of images that were scanned from film or old prints

    Then after they are all taged with metadata I make smart albums and place these in folders. I might make an album for pics of my daughter raed 4 stars or more or I have a folder on under water shots by location and another by type of animal. The thing is that after you have the metadata you can make any kind of ad-hoc smart album to suit the need of the moment then you can put the smart album in some folder. so the stucture is fluid and evolving. No fixed structure can work for very long

    The best thing about iPhoto and Aperture is that a photo can logically exist inside any number of albums or folders but there is only one copy on the disk. This allows for great flexability
  12. marclapierre13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2005
    multiple libraries whaaa? how does that help? sounds intriguing...
  13. canoeman macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008
    I have evolved into a system similar to that of ChrisA over a period of 8 years and involving several cameras. i have used iPhoto, Canon's ImageBrowser, Nikon's PictureProject and NX, Photoshop Elements, and Aperture. All are in the latest version except iPhoto. I will itemize some of the things I think I have learned, and why.

    1. I import from the camera or card to a folder that is named by date in the following format 2008-02-07. Early software brought them into a numbered folder, or whatever, and after awhile I lost track of what was in them or when they were taken. I would have to open the folder or expand the finder to know what was going on. Some software organized them month-year-date and that became a disaster for sorting in the finder. So, in my old age I use the year-month-date format and append a one-word descriptor to spark my memory, ie. 2008-02-07 Yellowstone. This naming convention is in the finder and I find it is really helpful to locate something. I typically download daily and the folder name reflects the download date and a descriptor.

    2. Because the early camera systems set up their own folders, I continue to do that as a backup system. It is my form of redundancy but you may want to skip that. I have had hard drives and graphic cards go, programs and libraries get corrupted, and had to reconstruct 20K image libraries with keywords, etc. a couple times. So for me, I will continue with the redundancy in addition to the normal backup scheme. I have decided that I cannot trust PictureProject, which has my most extensive library, and therefore, I don't want to trust Aperture or anything else yet.

    3. I copy that named folder (2008-02-07 Yellowstone) to another hard drive and into a folder named Aperture Image File. This is copied at the finder level. This folder holds everything that I choose to bring into Aperture as referenced images. The naming convention carries through into this Aperture Image File and that makes it easy to browse at the finder level when I want to.

    4. Finally, I "import folders as projects" into Aperture, making sure they come into the blue folder named 2008 Import Folders. (If I miss, they can be moved later.) By doing the import this way, the naming convention carries over into the projects and makes then easy to get around in. The images are stored in their original position.

    5.This last step takes the most discipline, and I came to it grudgingly, but I found out that that database was pretty useless unless I did it. I force myself to do keywords and at least a little bit of rating. But the keywords are vitally important. I do this and metadata such as locations, copyright, occasional comment immediately after I import to a project so I can batch apply the changes to the biggest number of pictures at a time.

    I recommend starting with a smaller keyword set that is very broad, and that you can add to when or if you have to. My early set went something like family, friends, landscapes, animals, events, etc. If you start this way, you can develop a keyword scheme that works easily for you and only expand it where you need to.

    To explain how this works, say you keyword all your relatives as family when they come in. Over time you realize that you have several hundred "family" images and want to break them down a little more. You could do a filter on "family" to select all those images and then tag them with additional keywords such as "me", "wife", "Kid 1", "Kid2", etc. You don't tag Uncle Benny because he is only in there twice and you can just hunt for him if you ever need him. I found over time that I needed to add surnames in the family category because I got into reconstructing old family archives. But, it was easier to add them when really needed rather than be compulsive about it at the beginning and probably never really get it done. I find that ready-made keyword sets are far too extensive for me as a hobbyist, although they are good to look at when you get into expanding what you need. No sense in having to totally reinvent the wheel.

    6. Like ChrisA said, once you get to this point, it is easy to set up albums within a project, or smart albums, or temporary smart albums. He is right that no system stays static but it needs a minimal amount of work to be able to be fluid.

    7. I love Aperture, especially the 2.1 version, and expect that it will do all that I will need to do for a long time. Part of loving it though was to follow others advice and think through how I wanted to use it and set up the structure to do that in advance. So far, I am very pleased that I did that and it sounds like you are asking the same kind of questions that I did. By setting up Aperture this way, it is my main program, but those redundant original folders are still available to other programs when I want to tweak something outside of Aperture.

    Hope this helps. Bill
  14. AxisOfBeagles macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2008
    East of Shangrila
    I have evolved a system that works for me:

    First, RAW images are imported to the mac using the EOS Utility. That allows me to rename in batch according to my preferred convention: date and a 4 digit serial number.

    Those images are then imported into iPhoto 08. I keep them organized by event, and make heavy use of keywords. Like others here, I also create albums - thematic collections of photos from across different events.

    Minor edits are done in iPhoto. More serious editing is done in CS2, with finished images imported back into the same events folder as the original, allowing for easy access, and side-by-side viewing.
  15. Dagless macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    Just iPhoto 08 with keywords. Started adding comments as well.
  16. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I know they are getting out of control, but I aren't sure if it would be good to shorten the list. For the example of family, I do have them all tagged with their respective names, it's a big family (brothers and sisters getting married and having kids), so it helps. And then I would have by type of shot, either macro, portrait, landscape, etc. Then by categories such as Nature, and within nature I have flowers, trees, etc. And then also have Animal and within it have dogs, horses, etc. I also tag vacations or trips with their respective geographical places. Or special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, etc.

    The good part is that Aperture makes having tons of keywords easy.

    WOW, that's a lot of work. I have send some of those old negatives (the ones you put in carrousels) to transfer them to digital, and there are about 2000 of them, I've been thinking of how to organize them. So far I am only willing to put keywords of members of the family that appear.

    Thanks for all the tips ChrisA, I am starting to to get nearer a good organization of my photos.:)

    I would think that it might be useful to separate job from family shots. This way you don't mix them.

    Very helpful indeed. I have started making some changes to at least this year, and I am just making separate events in one big 2008 folder. After that the projects and the I use smart albums to have the photos I want available quickly. It looks much more neat this way.

    One question for you Bill, I would guess that with the huge amount of photos you have gotten for the past years, you have ended up seeing that your internal drive wouldn't be enough. How did you managed this? I am in doubt of how to make the move in Aperture, not sure if just exporting previous years and referencing them would be the best solution.

    BTW, thanks for all the tips guys:)
  17. canoeman macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008
    Roco: Your keyword structure is almost identical to what mine has evolved into. I think how much you break it down depends on how many pictures you have of each extended family member. I use first names of my immediate family, and surnames for my siblings, etc. It is easy enough to find them that way.

    I spent about 2000 minutes this winter scanning 2000 slides on a friend's professional scanner. Drudgery. But, the one good thing about it was that I was able to label each image with the processing date imprinted on the slide itself and had the software add a sequential number that went through the whole series of 2000. The slides were horribly mixed up in trays, boxes, etc. and in no kind of order. I was able to import the whole mess into aperture and let it sort them for me by using smart albums. Instant success and sorting. I could not have done that with an outside service without physically sorting the slides first (and hoping they didn't get mixed up), or manually sorting them into albums in aperture. Any way you do it, it takes a long time.

    Re. the hard drive. Yes, I ran out of internal drive space on the MBP so I only keep the Aperture library and the PictureProject library on that. I keep the referenced images, the iPhoto libraries, and some misc. images on a 160G firewire portable that travels with me. That means it also has to be plugged into the MBP when I am doing edits at home. I also travel with a 200G USB portable that is used strictly for backup of the other drives. Once home, I have two 500G FW800 drives, one for the laptop and one for the G5 tower. They are not networked, but I can move the plugs around easily when powered down in the right places.

    I am at the point now of looking ahead to the largest FW portable that I can find that will not require external power. Fortunately, the size keeps doubling and the price keeps dropping. My advice now would be to look for the largest firewire portable you can find and move the referenced images there if you are using a laptop. If a desktop, then maybe a 500G firewire external. You won't have that many pictures on it, but it can also be used for backups, temporary storage when moving libraries, etc.
  18. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I dedicated a lot of time today reading and trying to find the best way to manage my photos. Currently I only have my MacBook, I intend on buying an iMac someday, but not for now.

    So this is my plan:
    1. Buy an external FW400 (I understand that the FW800 won't work in my MB) of around 320 or 500GB. I would then reference my projects there. My idea is to export to this drive the projects I have finished working on and the ones I don't plan to be using regularly. Preferably I would only keep the last 2 months worth of photos in my MacBook. I guess the drive would be the ones you connect to the wall, since they are normally faster, and I don't find myself needing to use them on the road.

    2. I'll continue using my other 2 external drives for Vault backups (One is 320GB and the other is 250GB). I'll also backup my referenced file to this disks. One is at home and the other one at work, so I think I am safe with this backup procedure.

    My only concern here is that I might need to end up buying another 2 HDs. Because the 320GB HD is also used for Time Machine, and the 250GB HD is used for Final Cut. So eventually it would not be sufficient, but at least for now I could live for some months and save money to buy another HD.

    And this leaves me with further questions:
    -Would a FW400 drive be faster than a USB 2.0? I can get a much cheaper USB drive.
    -Is is recommendable to use the same drive for Time Machine, Final Cut and Aperture? It is never used at the same time for the three things.

    Again, thanks a lot for the help canoeman.:)
  19. canoeman macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2008

    I can give you some sort-of answers here. The FW800 drive is much faster than FW400, which is faster than the USB 2.0. The last two should be close in theory, but I understand that a lot of other things go through the USB bus. Where you can really tell differences are when you copy or back up a large 10-80G batch of data the first time. On the day-to-day incremental things I don't know that it is a problem.

    I use the FW400 for Aperture because I wanted the drive to be useful for video editing and I don't think USB quite does it for the programs we have. I would think Final Cut would recommend FW, but don't know. I have found myself wondering if USB would be just fine for Aperture because there really isn't a lot of going back and forth most of the time. I use USB portables and desktops for monthly incremental backups of everything and keep them in the firesafe.

    I don't use Leopard and Time Machine, partly because I just didn't like something about the look of it, and partly because they were having troubles with the Aperture interface when I was just getting familiar with Aperture. I decided to let others work that out for me. I also wanted the same system on my and my wife's machines.

    I think your plan of keeping recent/important projects on the MacBook and exporting the other projects to another drive is fine. I have been considering something like that myself. But, I also like the idea of having everything in one place and then backing it up in one other place.

    In the last 18 months I have had to reconstruct a 20K image library twice following both hardware and software problems. I have had the power supply go out on an external drive, and later the directory go out on that same drive. fortunately, I was able to pull one out of the safe and back up to that and a brand new drive. It seems that if something can happen, it will. I read a lot, like you did, and found out that all brands had some disaster stories. Someone advised multiple drives made by different manufacturers at different times. Maybe not bad advice. Bill
  20. disdat macrumors regular


    Jul 21, 2005
    New England USA
    I keep the majority of my photos on an external hd. My MBP runs out of space quickly! :)

    Anyway, w/ iPhoto Library Manager, I can easily "move" events from my hd to another library kept on an external drive.

    I keep them sorted by family stuff, season (winter, spring), scanned photos. I figure that if I keep my iphoto libraries on the "small" side, then hopefully there won't be too many problems later.

    I am just an organization freak, so this might not be for everyone!!!
  21. SimD macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Not super organized here... I usually take 1-2k during a shoot, and as someone else said, the camera will sort by time/date. Of those 1-2k, I'll maybe want to use 40-50 so I'll just keyword the ones I know I'll be editing. Upon editing, I send them to another batch, depending on the category they fall under.. i.e. Sports or Wildlife or the country name.. of the 40-50 I'll keep, I'll maybe actually edit 10-15.. those 10-15 get sent to my main project folder which then become my Finals.

    All other photos that I didn't use, just get thrown over to the external.. which is quite messy as it's literally Img_0001 to Img_1092801283... and is almost out of space as each photo is a 20-25mb RAW...

    I need to discipline myself to place them in folders right when I import them so I don't end up with a messy external...
  22. Bluzeman macrumors newbie


    Jun 19, 2008
    Currently I am storing about 9000+ images (scanned, taken in RAW and JPEG formats) in Aperture v2.1.

    AT this point I have one main Project entitled "MAIN LIBRARY" for personal images, and I have created several other Projects for business images.

    Inside the "Main Library" Project, I have a yellow folder for each year "2008" for example. Contained in each year's yellow folder, there are several sub folders (yellow) with the headings; "Family", "Friends" & "General Interest". Within each of the sub-folders there are the Blue Albums each with their own title, eg. "Alex Bday 2008", containing specific groups of appropriate images.

    As I download images from my cameras, I give them a batch title, but keep the camera's index number, eg. "Victoria trainyard 2008 - 42623". Keywords can be added as required.

    My wife uses iPhoto on her computer and her organization method is similar, but on a simpler basis too suite her needs.

    I have developed this system over a number of years, migrating from "Iview Media Pro", to iPhoto, to Lightroom and now to Aperture.

    Hope this may be useful - good luck
  23. SimD macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Hmm not sure if this is common practice, but I very much like this idea of keeping the camera's index number..

    Thanks for the indirect tip, good sir! :)
  24. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Don't projects in Aperture have a limit of 10,000 photos?

    Keeping the cameras index number sounds interesting. Why do you make it?
  25. valdore macrumors 65816


    Jan 9, 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri. USA
    I just keep a library in Adobe Lightroom, categorized by YEAR > MONTH > SHOOT.

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