I’ve never been someone you’d call “organized,” which is strange considering my Type A(ish) personality. I love BEING organized, but sometimes, it’s just so hard to get there! Having adult ADHD (and growing up in a family where we were ALL diagnosed), it’s just been the norm- my parents’ biggest battle with me growing up was getting me to clean my room (I’m sure my dad will leave a sweet sentiment regarding this ongoing war in the comments section). And now that Matt & I have a home of our own, it’s still my biggest struggle, except this time it’s an entire house instead of one bedroom :).
That’s not to say I don’t desire organization- I LOVE, really love the feeling of a clear desk, a tidy living room and squeaky-clean kitchen. Nothing puts me at more peace than having my living space organized. But again, it’s GETTING there that’s the problem. And that’s another thing about ADHD- I’ll look at a room, get completely overwhelmed (no matter how small the mess is), and instead of just digging in, I’ll forego it completely. It’s an incredibly frustrating cycle! During my first year of shooting weddings on my own, I encountered this issue when it came to file storage and organization. Fortunately for me, my wedding photographer/mentor/friend came over for an afternoon of shooting, tomato soup, and business help, and one of the things she taught me was the importance of CONSISTENT file naming. Prior to her help, I was naming folders in a different way every time I uploaded new images, which made organizing and accessing my archives an utter nightmare.
These days, I have a method for naming everything! From files to hard drives to PASS galleries, I never have to wonder what I named an event when I’m trying to access my old files, which makes locating them a breeze. Let’s start big and then get smaller:
- As of now, I keep all of my images on external hard drives to make working on the go easy. This year I’ll likely be upgrading to a multi-hard drive system like Synology, but for now, I work off of 1 TB hard drives until they’re full, then I move onto another one. Each drive is named “AGP#”, with the number being whatever sequence the drive is in my collection.
- Within any particular drive, there are one or two overall folders: “2013″ and “2014″ are the ones on my latest drive, to help me locate files quickly according to when they were taken.
- Within those yearly folders, I break it down even further- Engagements, Personal, Portraits and Weddings. Tracking with me? Here’s a visual-
When I create a folder for a new wedding/session and import the RAW images, the folder will stay in the same location as the 2013 and 2014 folders- once the images from a wedding have been completely edited, PASSed and delivered, then and only then are they moved into the “2013 > Weddings” folder. It helps keep me up to date on anything that has yet to be completed.
So this is what my hard drive would look like prior to me completing the Smalley Wedding-
Now. Let’s talk about file naming.
- Every engagement session is named “GroomBrideES.” Simple as that. “JohnEmilyES,” “DanSarahES,” etc. etc. I never switch up the order just to keep things consistent.
- Every wedding is then named “NewlastnameWedding.” So… if the groom’s name was John Smith, it would be “SmithWedding.” Even if the bride is keeping her maiden name, I name the wedding folder with the groom’s last name so I don’t have to guess.
- Anniversary sessions are just “HusbandWifePS” (for “portrait session”) and ballerina sessions are “NameBalletPS.”
Within every folder, I break it down again. I do this as SOON as I upload the images after a wedding so that I don’t have to worry about it later. Let’s use Ware & Liz’s wedding as an example. Immediately upon creating the “SmalleyWedding” folder on my hard drive, I then insert four more subfolders:
- LR (I create a new LightRoom catalogue for each wedding and session).
- RAW- within the RAW folder there’s another subfolder called “5starred”- it’s where I put all of my top picks after culling my images in PhotoMechanic.
The “Favs” folder is just for any images that really pop out at me as I’m editing, so if I wanted to share a quick photo to Facebook before the blog post, that’s where it goes. The “Favs” folder usually ends up getting deleted after all is said and done because all of the final images are in the “Finals” folder, so “Favs” is just redundant.
Now. One more breakdown. I also divide up the “Finals” folder to make finding particular images within a wedding day easier. Here’s my group of subfolders within “Finals”:
- 1-Favorites (these are all of the images I’ve chosen for the blog, album, submissions, etc)
I know it may seem like a lot of extra work to export the batch of images and THEN have to separate them into different folders in Bridge, but again: the goal is to make locating images later a breeze for me AND my clients. And actually, the images that go into my “1-Favorites” folder are selected during the editing process in LightRoom- I just rate those particular images with 5 stars, so when I’m done editing, I export the 5 starred images FIRST, and then the rest of them afterwards. Sorting the rest of the images in Bridge literally takes less than 5 minutes.
Phew! That was really long. But hopefully it was helpful! As always, if you have any questions, sound off in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them!