Organizing your photos - software used, best methods and categories

Started Jun 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
Lee Jay
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Re: I'm absolutely not
In reply to Peter Krogh, Jun 29, 2013

Peter Krogh wrote:

ljfinger wrote:

Peter Krogh wrote:

Folders can be useful for image organization, for sure, and I don't suggest otherwise.

The biggest problems with using folders as the *principle* method for organization are these, in my opinion.

1. The information is really fragile. Once an image is removed from the folder tree, then the information may be no longer attached to the image. This becomes a huge problem for derivative files.

I disagree with this one. Folders are much less fragile because everything recognizes them. If I copy a folder tree to my phone it can show me the tree properly despite being unable to read any file metadata in the files themselves.

Hmmm. I'm not sure how I would even do that. My phone does not give me a deep multi-level filesystem to browse.

Mine does (Galaxy S3), as did my old one (Nokia 5230).

In my experience it's pretty common for files to be transferred without bringing their entire parent folder structure along with them.

I just drag folders where I want them.

It's also extremely common for files, particularly derivative files, to be moved to entirely new folders.

1)  I rarely create derivatives.  2)  I always create them next to the originals.

2. Folders as metadata are pretty limited. You can only make note of a few properties of the image before the folder/file naming system becomes too complicated. Many people like to make use of dates, locations, event names and quality ratings to name but a few categories of data that are useful for organizing images.

True. This is critical for some types of photography (stock) and not for others (events).

Most people I encounter need to organize their images in multiple different ways. There may be one overarching structure (date, or location or shoot name or event). But then there are a lot of very important additional layers of organization that are orthogonal to the original concept (these are the best pictures of Josie, these are images for my portfolio, these are images I want to put in a book, these are for a slideshow, etc.)

That's fine for them.  I rarely do, but it certainly has advantages.

3. Metadata, on the other hand, can be embedded in a file and in derivatives of the file. The metadata field can define the meaning of the attached term (is New York the city, state, or Las Vegas resort?). Metadata can also allow for viewing and searching images according to different primary and secondary criteria in a way that folders simply cannot do. (Show all pictures primarily by date and then secondarily by location, or show all pictures primarily by location and then secondarily by date).

Also true. I use embedded metadata for this.

3. Folders are however, essential in storage architecture, since they are the main metaphor used by most file systems. Therefore an unambiguous, scalable and orderly schema is called for. Folders are *primarily* used for storage architecture, and *secondarily* used for image organization, due to the issues outlined above.

Which is primary and secondary is irrelevant.

I actually think that it's pretty important for people to understand what they are doing with their folder structure, and making a clear difference between storage and organization is extremely helpful as a concept for many.

I disagree - folder names are metadata like any other metadata.  The only distinction is that the folder names metadata are more universally understood than all other fields.

Storage, in my view, should be stable, scalable and orderly. Organization, as an outgrowth of the creative process, is much less stable and much less orderly. It is extremely common for people who change their folder structure around to get themselves into a lot of trouble.

I've maintained a growing and expanding folder structure effortlessly for close to two decades now.  Keywords, on the other hand, can be a nightmare as evidenced by the controlled vocabularies available specifically to keep people from getting wrapped around the axle.

My point is that both are valuable and the recommendation to copy the date embedded metadata to the folder names renders that metadata field - the most universally compatible field - valueless.

You seem to think that I recommend to people to create lots of date based folders that reflect the embedded metadata. Nt sure where you are getting that from. Not from my book. My most universal advice is to store image files directly in a folder named for the shoot, in whatever way the word "shoot" applies to the kind of photography you do.

I could swear I've read that in your book, and from other people that use your book as a source for their own material.  If that's an erroneous attribution, then I apologize, but it is very ubiquitous and virtually always attributed to your book.

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