Managing Analog Photos


Today’s Question: How do you organize your film photos in your Lightroom [Classic] catalog in relation to your digital photos? I created a folder called Scans and have subfolders in there by camera or other criteria. I’m not sure if this will be viable going forward.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The right answer here depends in large part on how many film scans you’ll include in your Lightroom Classic catalog, However, I do think that having a master folder for analog images is a good starting point for many photographers.

More Detail: Some photographers have a significant library of photos captured on film that they have digitized and want to manage. Other photographers, such as myself, tend to digitize only the best of their film captures, which translates to far fewer analog images than digital captures in their library. The right approach depends to some extent on how many analog images you want to manage within the workflow for your digital captures.

The first thing to decide is whether the film captures you scan should be managed in the same workflow as your digital captures, or whether it makes more sense to manage the film captures in a somewhat separate folder structure. If you’ve been mostly focused on digital photography for a number of years, and are just adding the best of your older film captures into your workflow, it probably makes sense to have a separate folder for those analog images. If the film captures are more significant in number and will be used in much the same way as your digital captures, you may want to blend the film captures into the same workflow as your digital captures.

If you will blend your analog captures into your existing workflow, you should use the same approach to folder structure for the analog images as you do for your digital photos. If you will keep the analog captures in a separate folder structure, you’ll want to think about what sort of sub-folder approach makes the most sense.

If you will be managing a relatively small number of analog images, you may want to simply put all of those photos into a “Film Scans” folder and use keywords or other metadata to help organize the images. If you’ll have a larger number of film scans, you may want to create sub-folders by date (to the extent you know that information) or subject matter for the images.

Ultimately, film scans and digital captures can be managed in the same basic way within Lightroom Classic, with the obvious difference being the absence of EXIF metadata for the film captures you’ve scanned. However, since there is a good chance that for many photographers film captures fall into a distinct category compared to digital photos, it can helpful to have those images separated into a folder structure based on their status as analog photos that have been added to a digital workflow.