Creating a Workflow System: Get Your Photos Off Your Camera

by Eric Von Lehmden | December 14, 2011

You know the one nice thing about back in the day when all you could take photos with was film...you actually got photos out of the deal. Real, touchable, feel-able photos in your hands to look at. In the digital age it is so easy to get in the habit of just leaving your photos on your camera or phone. And so what ends up happening is that you take photos until your camera's card is full...which inevitably ends up happening when you are out and about and want to take a bunch of photos. But you can't cuz your card is FULL. Even your smartphone's camera roll can get bogged down with waaaay too many photos. Here is a fairly easy Workflow for getting the photos off your camera and phone and organized in a way that is easily accessible and viewable. It also makes it easy if you do want to make prints from your photos or start a photo project (maybe a family album, photo enlargement, or canvas print).

This How To is probably an Intermediate to Advanced level.

What you will need for your photo workflow (and this is optional):

  • An external / portable hard drive - You can pick one of these up for around $100 and they are a fantastic idea to create a backup of all your images and important computer documents in case something happens to your computer.
  • Software to rename your photos with 4 digits. (Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightroom, Photo Mechanic, & for you Mac users...Automator are all good programs to use to rename your photos). Again, this is completely optional.

Here are the steps to creating your workflow:

  1. Create a KEEP folder on your desktop - This is a Main folder that you will initially house subfolders that you will dump your images into.
  2. Under KEEP folder create a NEW FOLDER that is named in this format: year-month-day description (YY-MM-DD Description). For example the folder I put all the images in from Christmas day would be named: 11-12-25 Christmas. Putting the year first ensures your folders will stay in order. For each month and day be sure to use a 2 digit place holder. So January 1st, 2012 would look like: 12-01-01
  3. In each NEW FOLDER you set up is where you can dump the appropriate photos for that particular date. If you have a ton of photos from several different days you can download them all to the KEEP folder first then separate them into their subfolders as needed.
  4. This part is completely optional and is a little more advanced. Renaming your images. Renaming images ensures that no images get lost...so if for some reason a photo got moved out of it's folder you would know exactly where it goes based on the name. So what should we name these suckers? Name them the same as the folder they are in (without the dashes). So it will be - YYMMDD Description - then your computer will auto name them. So those Christmas photos I will be taking will be named: 111225 Christmas 0001.jpg. The only thing that will change in this name will the the 4 digit number (0001, 0002, 0003, etc)...and my computer will take care of that part for me. If you don't know how to rename your photos no worries. At least you have them in a folder with the a name that will keep you more organized.
  5. At this point I will copy the entire main folder (11-12-25 Christmas) to my back-up portable hard drive for safe keeping.
  6. Subfolders - If you like to play around with Photoshop or other photo editing software then you may want to make a few subfolders within named event folder. I like to make 2 subfolders to help me further organize my images. I name them: 01EDITS, & 02DISCARD. I put the 01 and 02 in front of them to ensure that they will stay at the top of the other image files in the folder. Now I can go through and throw out any images I don't like, and if I play with a photo in Photoshop I can save it into my 01EDITS folder so I am not saving over the original. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR ORIGINALS UNTOUCHED.

There you go, in 6 steps(or 5 if you don't want to rename your photos...fine, you won't hurt my feelings) you will have a super organized and easy to look at photo folders. Now you can find exactly what you are looking for the next time you want to order a canvas print or make a photo collage or just reminisce about your summer vacation.

Here is an example of what the general organization order is:

-KEEP (Main Folder)

-11-12-25 Christmas (Event Folder)

-01EDITS

-02DISCARD

-11-12-31 New Years

-12-01-16 Mom’s Birthday

And Here is a screen shot of what my Keep folder looks like on my Desktop here at work.

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Tips-n-Tricks #89

When going to a cool dry area to a warm humid environment your camera can build condensation on it until it acclimates to the humidity. To avoid the foggy lens frustration stick your camera in a gallon size ziplock bag for about 10-15 minutes so the condensation builds on the bag and not on your camera.


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