Folder Organization


Today’s Question: Do you always leave every image from a shoot in the same folder forever? If you have a 5-star image, is it in the same folder with no-star shots in perpetuity? If so, do you rename them while keeping them in the same folder? Do you have a separate folder for images you print?

Tim’s Quick Answer: My personal approach is to keep photos in their “original” photo “forever”, along with all other images captured on the same shoot or trip. I then use star ratings and keywords as needed to help ensure I can always find a particular photo when I need it.

More Detail: One of the things I appreciate about Lightroom is that the central catalog makes it easy for me to filter across my entire catalog of photos, or to filter based on the photos within one or more folders. As a result, I can easily find all of my very best photos very quickly by choosing the “All Photographs” option from the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module, and then setting a filter to show only five-star images.

To be sure, many photographers employ a folder structure that involves organizing photos into a different folder from the “original” folder once that image has been identified as a best photo, or as a photo for which prints are being offered for sale.

In other words, I’m not suggesting that all photographers should always adopt my approach of keeping all photos from a single shoot in a single folder, using other metadata values to locate specific images.

To me what is most important is that you are able to locate the image you need when you need it. Along with star ratings, keywords, and other metadata values, the folder structure can help you keep your photos organized and locate specific images.

When it comes to defining a folder structure, my overall recommendation is to define a structure based on the way you think about your images, or based on the way you’re likely to look for images. So, if you will be looking for a photo based on the trip on which you captured the photo, you may want to keep the photo in the original folder with the other images from that trip.

If, on the other hand, you think about your photos based on those that are offered for sale as prints, you might want to take a different approach. However, I would also add that if you think you want to move images from their original folder to a folder for images that have been printed, you might instead want to assign a keyword or create a collection in Lightroom to serve that additional purpose, keeping the original photo in the same folder and using other means to identify specific images.