When to Rename Photos


Today’s Question: What do you consider the best time to rename photos? In your video you suggest doing it at the time of import, but I was wondering if a more appropriate time might be at the end after I have imported and refined to just the images that I want.

Tim’s Quick Answer: In general I prefer to rename photos at the time of download or import. This helps ensure there will never be any inconsistencies, such as if you sent a copy of a photo to a client right before renaming the photo. However, as long as you don’t delay significantly in reviewing your photos, it also makes sense to rename after you have deleted any outtakes so there won’t be any gaps in the file numbering for the photos that remain.

More Detail: In large part the question here relates to your tolerance for having “missing” image numbers in the filename sequence.

As noted above, my personal preference is to rename as early in the workflow as possible to avoid any risk of confusion. Essentially I want to ensure that the filenames applied when renaming the images represent the only filenames anyone will ever see. If you rename upon downloading your photos or when importing into Lightroom, that will ensure that nobody will have seen any filename other than the “new” filename.

That said, some photographers prefer to rename later in their workflow so that deleting photos won’t cause gaps in the sequence number that is typically used as part of the file renaming structure. I certainly understand this preference, but to me that is secondary to renaming earlier in my workflow.

So, the bottom line is that I recommend renaming photos as early in your workflow as possible. If you want to rename after deleting outtakes, that would mean trying to be sure you review for outtakes as soon after downloading your images as possible, and that you rename immediately after that review.