Mixed Capture Types

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Today’s Question: I have a DSLR that I use to capture photos in RAW, but I also often take JPEG photos on my mobile phone when I don’t have the DSLR with me. I also use my phone to take short videos. Currently I am downloading everything (RAW, JPEG and Video) into Lightroom and storing them all in the one folder. It can come a bit unwieldy so I am wondering what you suggest when you have a mix like I have. Do you keep everything in a single folder, or keep then in individual folders for RAW, JPEG, and video? What do find the most convenient in your workflow?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal preference is to keep all photos and video clips from a single trip or photo shoot in a single folder. This is partly motivated by a desire to have each folder represent the entirety of a single photo trip, and partly motivated by the fact that it is very easy to filter images by a wide variety of criteria.

More Detail: One of the primary goals in my photographic workflow is to use an approach that is as streamlined as possible. As part of that approach I try to avoid adding complexity that is not necessary and that doesn’t provide an inherent benefit. For example, I don’t see a benefit in having my RAW versus JPEG captures (or videos) divided into separate folders when it is so easy to filter based on file type. Similarly, I prefer not to create individual folders for each day of a trip, in part because it is so easy to filter based on date of capture.

I realize that when it comes to RAW versus JPEG captures, there is often a very different motivation for capturing the images. For example, I am more likely to use my digital SLR for photos I consider to be more “artistic” in nature, while I’ll use my smartphone to capture images that are more about simply documenting some of the experiences along the way.

However, in my mind all of these captures are part of the overall photographic story from a given trip or photo shoot. And so I prefer to keep all of the images and videos in a single folder, regardless of what type of camera was used and what file types are involved.

I will then use the various filters to limit my view to only the photos I’m most interested in at any given moment. For example, if I’m looking for my best “artistic” photos from a trip I can navigate to the folder for that trip, filter by the RAW capture as the file type, and add a filter for star ratings.

While you could certainly argue that putting a wide variety of different types of captures into a single folder creates a degree of clutter, my feeling is that this approach helps to streamline the process of locating specific images. And by making use of various filters to focus on the images you’re most interested in at the moment, the clutter that might exist within the folder is never really visible to you.