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How I Organize My Photos and Files



Today, I went back and looked through my 2017 photos and did a quick count. Can you believe that I took upwards of twenty-five thousand photos last year?!? That’s crazy! Whether or not you’re as click happy with the shutter as I am, as a photographer, you most definitely need an organizational system for all your digital photographs!

Having a system ensures that you can always find what you’re looking for quickly. This system also makes sure that everything gets backed up properly. One of my worst nightmares (as most wedding photographers!) is to lose a couple’s wedding photos, so I take this backup and organization pretty seriously.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through how I name and organize all my photo files so everything stays neat and in order.

You might also be interested in this blog post: My Photo Import, Export and Backup Workflow






The Parent Folder

First thing I do before importing any photos is I create a new parent folder. Every photo shoot that I do has its own folder and all these main folders are saved in one place. I name these parent folders like so: YYYY.MM.DD Name(s) Event.

Example: 2017.10.04 Jerrica Adison Engagement

Naming my folders like this allows them to all stay in chronological order. It also makes it super easy for me to find past shoots by simply searching for the couple’s name.



The Photo Folders

Inside the parent folder, I then create a handful of other subfolders. I name these folders with the same Names as the parent folder and with the same event as well. I then add what photos are kept in each folder (in capital letters):

  • Jerrica Adison Engagement UNEDITED: In this folder, I keep all the RAW files straight out of my camera.
  • Jerrica Adison Engagement 5STARRED: In this folder, I drag all the RAW files that I’ve culled. These are the keepers and the ones I’ll be importing into Lightroom to edit.
  • Jerrica Adison Engagement EDITED: This folder will house all my final edited high-resolution Jpegs.
  • Jerrica Adison Engagement EDITED STOMPED: Lastly, in this folder, I store all the edited Jpegs that have been resized for the blog and social media (done with BlogStomp, hence the “edited stomped” name).



File Nomenclature

I keep all the RAWs named as they were in camera (1C1A1571.CR2). I only keep the RAWs for 6 months and only I work with them, so there’s no need for me to rename them.

However, I do rename all my Jpeg files when exporting the final edits from Lightroom. I rename them for 3 reasons:

  1. By adding keywords to my file names, this helps with SEO when adding the photos to my website and blog. Google can’t see your photo, so when the Google bots are scanning your website, they will actually be looking at your photo files names and ALT tags.
  2. It makes them easier to search and find later.
  3. It looks prettier when delivered to the client. When my clients save their photos on their computer, it’s nicer for them to have properly named files, opposed to a jumble of letter and numbers.

I rename these files like so: sequence number – keywords – Emilie Smith Photography – original file number.

Example: 0152-Jerrica-Adison-Westlock-County-Fall-Engagement-Session-Emilie-Smith-Photography-1571

The sequence number is simply there to keep all my photos in order and I keep the original RAW files number there simply for reference. If ever I needed to re-edit this photo, I could easily find it’s RAW file without having to look through all the photos.

When I pass these high-resolution Jpegs through BlogStomp, I don’t change the file name other than adding a _Stomped at the end. That way, I can quickly tell which photos are my high-resolution ones and which ones are re-sized.

Example: 0152-Jerrica-Adison-Westlock-County-Fall-Engagement-Session-Emilie-Smith-Photography-1571_Stomped.




I use three different methods of backup (you can never be too safe!).

The first one is my computer’s hard drive. I don’t keep the photos on my iMac’s hard drive forever, but when working on the photos, they are saved on my iMac.

My second method of backup is my external hard drive. Immediately after importing my RAW files into the UNEDITED folder, I also copy that exact folder onto my external hard drive. Once I have edited all the photos from a session, I will then also copy those folders and add them to my hard drive. Six months after the session, I then go back and delete the RAW files and only keep the high-resolution Jpegs. I use the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror 16TB hard drive, configured in RAID1.

My third method of backup is my cloud service. I use CrashPlan for Business and this software is constantly running and backing up everything on my computer onto their cloud. They offer unlimited storage, so I can be confident that my photos and files are safe.

I chose to use both physical storage (my hard drives) and cloud storage to be covered in all areas. If my office was ever robbed and all my hard drive were stolen, I know that all my stuff is still safe in the cloud. And the physical storage simply makes it easier to access my photos quickly when working at home.


There you have it! That’s the system I use and follow for each and every photo shoot that I do. I hope you start implementing your very own system after reading this! Whether you copy mine, modify it or create your very own to fit your needs, the important thing is that you have a system and that your files are organized and backed up safely.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below!




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    Emilie Smith is based in Edmonton, Alberta // Edmonton Wedding Photographers, Mountain Adventure Wedding Photographers and Edmonton Elopement Photographers

    Serving: Alberta // British-Columbia // Canadian Rockies // National Parks // Okanagan // West Coast // Northern Canada

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