Advice For Maybe Better Organizing Vast Photo Collection

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larrytusaz Senior Member • Posts: 2,666
Advice For Maybe Better Organizing Vast Photo Collection

This is a long post, so forgive me if it's too much.

Short version. What's a good organizing method for making it easy to quickly browse your photo collection by a certain month, while still preserving the "nesting" aspects of the organization for archival purposes?

Long version.

I have a massive (to me) digital photo collection going back to August 2003. I'm struggling a bit with how to organize the photos in a way to where they make sense when you're perusing them later on down the line. As it is, I am OK with it in terms of "ingesting" them on the day & the long-term archival aspects, but not in terms of quickly zipping through and seeing some highlights of the best ones.

I have Lightroom 5.7, although I currently use it only for editing RAW files, nothing else. Otherwise I rely on the built-in Windows file management system and I use Irfranview or the free Nikon Capture NX-D.

My structure goes like this. with my current cameras being a Sony RX100 III and Nikon Z50:

F:\Pictures\2021\Photos_All\01_January\2021-01-16\z50\jpeg (then the out-of-camera JPEGs)

F:\Pictures\2021\Photos_All\\01_January\2021-01-16\z50\raw (then the RAW files)

The filenames go like this:

20210115_182432_ooc_z50 (out of camera JPEGs)

20210115_182432_raw_z50 (RAW files)

If I make an edit of a RAW file producing a JPEG, that will be saved in an "edits" folder (at the same "nesting" level as the JPEG & RAW folders) with a name like


rj meaning "RAW to JPEG" then b/c for each edit then n_capture if that's the RAW software I used, if I used Lightroom then it says lr5) Again though everything prior to tha in the prefix matches up the same with the original JPEG and RAW file, so you know which photo you edited and can quickly trace back to the original.

When I'm "ingesting," I use exiv2 and a bat file for quickly renaming the files in one pass. That's not a problem, and in fact I like that system because the out of camera JPEG and its RAW file match up exactly in terms of everything prior to OOC or RAW in the name, so it makes it easy to make sure you're editing the right photo when you're browsing the out-of-camera JPEGs and say "hey, I like that one, let me edit the RAW file for that one." Just search (in this case) for 182432 in the RAW folder and you've got the exact one.

The issue is more, later, when I'm browsing photos, navigating that structure to see everyone you've shot for a month is awkward, the very nesting aspects that's great for organizing them for archival purposes is now a curse for quick browsing. There's no quick way to say "show me all the out of camera JPEGs for January" that I can see, and then when you do, they take awhile to generate because they're full-sized JPEGs.

What I've been doing lately is creating another folder called "PhotosAllResize" (then a folder for each month) and using Irfranview to quickly show all the JPEGs for the given month all at one time. I then batch-process them to make 1000x667 web-size JPEGs which I then put in this folder, everything for the month at the "root" level, no "nesting" and since they're resized JPEGs they generate quickly.

So you then have

F:\Pictures\2021\PhotosAllResize\01_January\ then all the photos I shot for January show up.

I'm not sure if that's a really sensible way to do this, plus you still have bugs such as that Infraview doesn't preserve the portrait orientation in the conversion making you have to rotate every portrait. This method does have all the photos for a given year show up with no need to navigate so many "nesting layers," and again they're resized so they generate quickly, but still I'm not sure this is the best way to do this. Maybe someone else has a better way I've not thought of for all this time?

 larrytusaz's gear list:larrytusaz's gear list
Sony RX100 III Nikon D3300 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G +3 more
Nikon Z50 Sony RX100 III
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