Art and Photography

How do you file your photos?

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  • Apr 3rd, 2019 3:14 pm
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[OP]
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May 15, 2016
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How do you file your photos?

I have a million photos from different phones and oses. Some are saved into dcim folders, some are numbered by date month and year. What is the best or easiest way to file and consolidate the collection? Currently I have them in dcim folders from a dozen phones. Tia
23 replies
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I would consider saving the images from the mobile devices to your PC/Mac in a date oriented filing system with folders named in a Year-Month-Day (ex: 2019-03-02) manner and if you have overlapping devices (two or more devices in use in the same period) include the device brand-model in the folder name.

By using the Year as the first 4 digits and then Month as next two when you sort by name the folders will always sort in Date order Oldest to Newest, or Newest to Oldest if reverse sorted, when viewed in File Manager using the Details view. Going by Day-Month-Year gives you a hodge podge of 31 days sorted into 12 months and many years.

You could also add in a key word for quickly finding key events. Keep them short as longer folder and file names can cause issues with some backup software in some OS versions.


i.e.
2015-11-11 i5
2015-11-11 S6
2015-12-25 i5 at inlaws
2015-12-25 S9 at family
2019-03-02 S9
2019-03-02 RX100V
2019-03-27 S9 Disneyland
2019-03-02 RX100V Disneyland


With "millions" of images this is probably breaking it down too much and will possibly cause hours & hours of work sorting and transferring files by day. If so, then do it by Year-Month-Brand-Device. If there is an extra special event in that time period you can sort it out to a specific day and still get a date sorted listing when viewed in File Manager using the Details view. This should encourage you to back up / copy over your images to the PC/Mac at least once a month.

i.e.
2015-11 i5 ... < a folder with a month of images from the i5
2015-11 S6
2015-12 S6
2015-12-25 i5 at inlaws ... < a special day of images
2015-12-25 S9 at family
2019-03 S9
2019-03 RX100V
2019-03-27 S9 Disneyland
2019-03-27 RX100V Disneyland


OR... use a descending folder system of Year\Month\Day or at least Year\Month\Device

2015
.....\11
........\10
........\11 Ottawa Cenoptaph
........\12
.....\12
........\20
........\25 i5 at family
........\25 S6 at inlaws

2019
.....\03
........\27 S9 Disneyland
........\27 RX100V Disneyland

.

FWIW - I've been using the descending folder method since 2001 and through to about 2016 as in this period I was capturing images almost daily from several devices, upwards of 15,000 images per year.

In 2016 I shifted to the Year-Month-Day-Device folder for my cameras and a monthly folder for my phones. I was not as active taking photos with my cameras after the summer of 2016 so it was easier for me to use this system.
[OP]
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NewsyL wrote:
Mar 2nd, 2019 2:30 pm
I would consider saving the images from the mobile devices to your PC/Mac in a date oriented filing system with folders named in a Year-Month-Day (ex: 2019-03-02) manner and if you have overlapping devices (two or more devices in use in the same period) include the device brand-model in the folder name.

By using the Year as the first 4 digits and then Month as next two when you sort by name the folders will always sort in Date order Oldest to Newest, or Newest to Oldest if reverse sorted, when viewed in File Manager using the Details view. Going by Day-Month-Year gives you a hodge podge of 31 days sorted into 12 months and many years.

You could also add in a key word for quickly finding key events. Keep them short as longer folder and file names can cause issues with some backup software in some OS versions.


i.e.
2015-11-11 i5
2015-11-11 S6
2015-12-25 i5 at inlaws
2015-12-25 S9 at family
2019-03-02 S9
2019-03-02 RX100V
2019-03-27 S9 Disneyland
2019-03-02 RX100V Disneyland


With "millions" of images this is probably breaking it down too much and will possibly cause hours & hours of work sorting and transferring files by day. If so, then do it by Year-Month-Brand-Device. If there is an extra special event in that time period you can sort it out to a specific day and still get a date sorted listing when viewed in File Manager using the Details view. This should encourage you to back up / copy over your images to the PC/Mac at least once a month.

i.e.
2015-11 i5 ... < a folder with a month of images from the i5
2015-11 S6
2015-12 S6
2015-12-25 i5 at inlaws ... < a special day of images
2015-12-25 S9 at family
2019-03 S9
2019-03 RX100V
2019-03-27 S9 Disneyland
2019-03-27 RX100V Disneyland


OR... use a descending folder system of Year\Month\Day or at least Year\Month\Device

2015
.....\11
........\10
........\11 Ottawa Cenoptaph
........\12
.....\12
........\20
........\25 i5 at family
........\25 S6 at inlaws

2019
.....\03
........\27 S9 Disneyland
........\27 RX100V Disneyland

.

FWIW - I've been using the descending folder method since 2001 and through to about 2016 as in this period I was capturing images almost daily from several devices, upwards of 15,000 images per year.

In 2016 I shifted to the Year-Month-Day-Device folder for my cameras and a monthly folder for my phones. I was not as active taking photos with my cameras after the summer of 2016 so it was easier for me to use this system.
Great post! My only concern is sometimes I have 1 or 2 pics in a directory and if I itemized them into directories then I wouldn't be able to find my pictures. It's a lot of random things so classifying them by event isn't ideal.

It's too bad there isn't a standard way of saving pictures in an dcim folder so people can browse everything at once.
Newbie
Feb 12, 2017
49 posts
41 upvotes
Calgary
> Great post! My only concern is sometimes I have 1 or 2 pics in a directory and if I itemized them into directories then I wouldn't be able to find my pictures.
> It's a lot of random things so classifying them by event isn't ideal.

I name and organize my folders like this.

2019
.....\2019.family
.....\2019.home_cooking
.....\2019.landscape.city
.....\2019.landscape.mountains
.....\20190320.family.daughter1.pet
.....\20190326.unload.home.photowalk.friends
.....\20190329.unload.Disney_holiday
..........\20190327.unload.family.city
....................\20190327.delete.family.city
....................\20190327.pool.family.city
..........\20190328.unload.family.Disneyland
..........\20190329.unload.family.UniversalStudios
.....\20190330.unload.studio.client

I unload memory cards into folders named for the date of the last photo shot, such as 20190329.unload. Then I group the images in that folder into subfolders named for each date on which the images were shot, such as 20190327.unload.Disney_holiday. Since I looked at the photos, I can add a few descriptive words. Also, I write "unload" immediately after the date to indicate the photos need culling, editing, or social media sharing. I remove the "unload" word to indicate a set of photos is complete or shared.

When I have only 1 or 2 pictures that do not warrant a whole folder, I move them to a general folder for the year, like 2019.family which has just the year and no date.

To go a step further, I move images I don't want into a subfolder of their parent folder and rename it to something like 20190327.delete.family.city. That way, I can review all of the poorer shots together before really deleting them. If I have photos I don't want to share and still keep, I will create a subfolder like 20190327.pool.family.city.

I've been using this system for years. It works well for me. The biggest aid to doing this is having an image viewer that can easily tag photos (according to how much I like them), create folders and move files while looking at images. On Linux, I run Geeqie.
Last edited by Kevin3840 on Mar 15th, 2019 12:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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I shove everything into Google Photos.

The search function works beautifully too, no labelling required.
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Sep 23, 2013
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This is a good topic OP and I'm curious what people report. I love that you worded the title "How do you..." rather than "What is the best way..." because is there a 100% universally agreed-upon right way?

For me, I have about a hundred-thousand photos and videos pulled from all kinds of sources. I didnt bother renaming anything. I just created folders by year, moved the files into the corresponding year and did a scan to delete duplicates. Major events like my wedding and all vacations each got their own subfolder. At least they are somewhat categorized. These files were all backed up on an external drive permanently connected to my computer and another external that I house offsite.

I then upload everything to google photos and let the exif data do the rest. This way, the photos are always with me, easily accessible, rather than tucked away on a home desktop comp that gets used maybe once every couple weeks. My library is shared with my wife so she too has 24/7 access to all the memories.
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I went to SmugMug now.
It's too bad, I would have preferred to keep Flickr as they have superb organization and editing features, but I have no confidence that they have to capability to fix bugs in their platform.
What if there were no hypothetical questions?
[OP]
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hartzfizzo wrote:
Mar 15th, 2019 4:57 pm
This is a good topic OP and I'm curious what people report. I love that you worded the title "How do you..." rather than "What is the best way..." because is there a 100% universally agreed-upon right way?

For me, I have about a hundred-thousand photos and videos pulled from all kinds of sources. I didnt bother renaming anything. I just created folders by year, moved the files into the corresponding year and did a scan to delete duplicates. Major events like my wedding and all vacations each got their own subfolder. At least they are somewhat categorized. These files were all backed up on an external drive permanently connected to my computer and another external that I house offsite.

I then upload everything to google photos and let the exif data do the rest. This way, the photos are always with me, easily accessible, rather than tucked away on a home desktop comp that gets used maybe once every couple weeks. My library is shared with my wife so she too has 24/7 access to all the memories.
Thank you for your answer. What do you use to scan for duplicates and is the exif data sufficient to categorize the files?

I've been hesitant to use online photo storing services especially with google but I'm not sure if my privacy concerns are legitimate.
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Nov 24, 2004
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My own system, for what it's worth: photos are stored in folders labelled in the yyyy-mm-dd format, not necessarily referring to the day they were taken but to the day they were "processed" (downloaded from my phone / SD card / etc.) -- whenever I download photos from the card, I create a new folder in this manner. This ends up being a crude but useful way to sort all photos into "bins" of one to four weeks' duration, by date. EXIF data on individual images can narrow down the date further.

Everything gets stored on my NAS (which mirrors two drives) and then uploaded to a paid cloud backup service. The "best" photos get uploaded to Google Photos for web-gallery display (sharing with family and friends). Given Google's known track record on photo-related services, I do not trust them for long-term critical storage of images.
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bhrm wrote:
Mar 14th, 2019 11:15 pm
I shove everything into Google Photos.

The search function works beautifully too, no labelling required.
Same. You can create ALBUMS to keep similar themed stuff together. Google photos default is sorted by date. If you let it do it's thing it will autocategorize by person as well. Sometimes I find searching hit or miss.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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gr8dlr wrote:
Mar 19th, 2019 7:47 pm
Same. You can create ALBUMS to keep similar themed stuff together. Google photos default is sorted by date. If you let it do it's thing it will autocategorize by person as well. Sometimes I find searching hit or miss.
It's not 100% perfect but it's a lot better than sitting and sorting for hours on end manually.
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Just a big TIP for those who don't use a cloud service like Google Photos. Make sure you have at least one or even two backups of your photos. Don't know how often I hear these robbery stories where people get their laptop stolen and then they're on the news crying saying they had photos on there that were irreplaceable. Backup your photos and put them away for safekeeping not in your house (take the backup and put them in your office, at a siblings residence or somewhere offsite)....in case of fire/flood/other disaster.
We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves...

Failure is always an option...just not the preferred one!
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gr8dlr wrote:
Mar 21st, 2019 9:52 am
Just a big TIP for those who don't use a cloud service like Google Photos. ...
This is a good tip, and I think it STILL applies to people who use Google Photos to store their photos (I personally like Google Photos as a way to make nice galleries, but based on Google's track record, I would not rely on it long-term as a "backup")

The classic mnemonic for backups is the "3-2-1" rule: three copies of your important files, on at least two different media, one of which is located offsite. A home backup synced to two reliable cloud providers would work, or two-drive NAS plus one reliable cloud provider, etc.
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vivibaby wrote:
Mar 17th, 2019 1:55 pm
Thank you for your answer. What do you use to scan for duplicates and is the exif data sufficient to categorize the files?

I've been hesitant to use online photo storing services especially with google but I'm not sure if my privacy concerns are legitimate.
Sorry for the delayed response to this. I wish there was some sophisticated software that could detect duplicates, (I dunno, maybe there is) but my system was rather basic. I just sorted all my files by date taken and then looked for duplicate file-sizes. I then deleted accordingly. This didnt account for resized photos so i also did a quick pass visually to see if I could find any duplicates and deleted those. This process of culling duplicates and, in many instances triplicates, was a bit time consuming, but well worth the trouble as it was my first major attack on organizing my photos/vids.

so when i first uploaded everything to google photos, 99% of the duplicate files were already removed. As others have mentioned in this thread, google photos does a pretty good job of organizing the photos and vids.
  • You can view them by year or month, or date.
  • You can filter to see just videos
  • Their facial recognition is pretty decent so if u just wanna see pix of a particular person u can
  • Your entire library is accessible without affecting your phone storage


But I must clarify that I use it merely as a way to view my files. I wouldnt rely on it as a backup option in any fashion. If google decided tomorrow to kill the platform - meh, no biggie.

To rewind, I dont bother renaming my files or creating an elaborate system of nested folders because for me, I will almost always be viewing them through a web platform that pulls data from the exif rather than the filenames. But in the interest of good housekeeping, I deleted duplicate files and organize the files by year and/or major event to have some sort of tidiness.
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I love organizational discussions. ha

Everyone has they're preferred method. I sort my photos by source.

So I have a folder on a hard drive for all my digital photos (currently a 3TB HDD that is getting full).
From there, I have them sorted by the source of that photo (ie: Blackberry 9900, iPhone 6, Sony Camera, Olympus Camera, Pentax Camera...)
Then from there, I either keep the organizational method the camera uses, organize by year, or just keep one big folder).

I prefer all the photos for the same source in one big folder, but I prefer to scroll through thousands of photos then to click through many, many folder.
But this slows down older computers when trying to re-sort giant folders, or load up thousands of thumbnails...
Also not useful when your camera uses a numbering system that has a finite limit of digits, meaning after awhile it will restart at 0 and start numbering again (eg: img00001.jpg). I had this probably on two cameras that basically went up to 10,000 photos.

This is how I keep a master copy of ALL my photos.

Then I have another HDD where I "sort" all my photos.
For that, I made folders based on the most common reasons I take photos.
Like: Events (with sub folders of each event), Family, Records (whenever I take a photo of just something to remember), Trips, Work
I use this set up as a more user friendly way to find photos. But it usually means that not EVERY photo gets sorted, or there's some that have no specified folder.

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