Skip to main content

How should I organize a set of photos



  • BeO
    Top Commenter

    There are a lot of ways to work with C1.

    Highlevel decisions: Sessions or catalogs (or both in combination), one catalog or many catalogs, import images into a catalog vs.  catalog which only references images (add images to catalog).

    Either you research and maybe try out a lof of different ways, or you just start with one of the simpler ones.


    My advise is you define a structure at file system level, a folder hierarchy which is meaningful to you e.g. 

      date event


      2023-02-18 Football game chicks vs. eggs
      2023-02-20 Trip to xyz
      2023-03-03 Wedding Paul and Paula

    and use keywords or metadata IPTC fields for museum x, island y, island z, where 2023-02-20 is the start date of your trip.

    Or, you break down even further e.g. 

      2023-02-20 Trip to xyz
           Museum x
           Island y
           Island z
           City abc

       Whatever makes sense to you.

    In any case keywording and metadata makes sense in order to easily find images or in order to define smart albums (kind of saved searches). I prefer this over normal (static) albums but even if you use static albums, metadata doesn't hurt.

    Maybe you have already a file system organziation that works for you, then stay with it.

    Then, import into a catalog using "add to catalog" option, which leaves your images where they are.

    Whatever catalog system you use (C1, LR, DXO,or whatever), a basic organziation at file system level makes sense and is future proof e.g. when you want or have to switch catalog systems. Any good system should be able to adapt to YOUR organization, not the other way round.

  • FirstName LastName


    Organizing a set of photos can be a daunting task, but with the right approach and tools, it can be made much easier. Here are some steps you can follow to help you organize your photos:

    Collect all your photos: The first step is to gather all your photos in one place. This may involve transferring photos from multiple devices or storage locations.

    Remove duplicates: Next, go through your photos and remove any duplicates. This will help you avoid clutter and save storage space.

    Cull your photos: Go through your photos and select the best ones. This will help you narrow down your collection and make it easier to organize.

    Create a folder structure: Create a folder structure that makes sense for your photos. For example, you could organize photos by year, event, or location. Make sure to choose a system that is easy to understand and navigate.

    Rename your photos: Consider renaming your photos to something descriptive and meaningful. This will make it easier to find specific photos later on.

    Add metadata: Add metadata to your photos, such as tags, captions, and keywords. This will help you find specific photos using search functions. Check My Rota

    Use software to help you: Consider using software to help you organize your photos. There are many tools available that can help you automatically organize your photos, add metadata, and even create albums or slideshows.

    By following these steps, you can create an organized and easily navigable photo library that will allow you to quickly find and share your favorite photos.

  • SFA
    Top Commenter

    The ultimate approach for most database systems is to permit flexibility where the data records (i.e. the photos in this case) can be associated with as many sets as necessary. 

    So for example you may want a single image to be associated with Islands, a specific Island and also Museums and a specific museum or something related to the subject of the photo within the museum.

    The way to achieve that is to enter Metadata in the fields provided, most likely IPTC data fields as used by the Professional Photo Libraries and archives for example. If personal use is your only requirement then it may be simpler to just use Keywords.

    Once labeled the images and all variants can then become visible in all required grouping categories using searches that select the required metadata contents and keywords. Save the most generic searches as Smart Albums and the effort required for grouping will be automatically applied to new (or existing) variants as the metadata fields and keywords are entered or edited. 

  • BeO
    Top Commenter

    The second Firstname Lastname is a spamming bot?

  • SFA
    Top Commenter

    Looks like a bot, BeO.

    I have seen several spam like posts in the past hour of catching up with the community.

    Basically anything with a link embedded is suspect.

    I wonder if the content above is a cut-and-paste from elsewhere or, perhaps, the result of a few seconds of work by one of the new AI tools like Chat GPT that seem to be set to disrupt the world and its ability to determine fact from fiction.

  • BeO
    Top Commenter


    I've seen a lot of these here, recently, and my assumption is Chat GPT (or alike) too. I've heard that no AI is capable of detecting whether or not such a text is generated by an AI, and even if, zendesk AI is certainly none of them.

  • FirstName LastName

    Thanks everyone. I was really trying to ask if anyone has favorite ways of using groups, albums and projects for something like a collection of travel photos. I have no problem with using the OS file system as the main mechanism but wondered if there were better ways I hadn’t thought of. 
    I guess not. 

    i am familiar with using metadata, I’ve done that a lot in past systems ( like aperture and LR)


  • MartinR

    I suggest keeping it simple on disk (the "OS folder side") and then use albums in C1 to further sort subsets of images.  This helps to keep your folders on disk relatively straightforward.

    On disk I create a master folder for each year and a subfolder for each shoot during that year - a shoot being a specific event, trip or other shoot.  I import the images into C1 and each shoot appears in the C1 Folders pane.  I then use C1 Albums in User Collections to further sort my images into subsets.  (I also use C1 Groups for additional organizing.)

    For example, I'm currently doing a series of shoots at a church.  Each shoot goes in its own folder on disk.  So far, 4 shoots, 4 folders.  I import the shoots into C1 and they show up in the C1 Folders pane.  Then, in C1, I collect the images into different Albums in C1 User Collections: facade, lobby, offices, sanctuary, stained glass windows, murals, plaques, rooms, etc.   I also have a separate project shooting different cemeteries for which I created a Cemetery Group in C1 User Collections and within that group created an Album for each Cemetery.

  • SFA
    Top Commenter

    By pure coincidence I have been messing around with a music database in the past few days.

    I realised that my original "Master" collection of MP3s was, for some reason, incomplete compared to the files on a 20 years old spinning disk based MP3 device so I decided to reconcile the results and see what the Infotainment system in my wife's car would do with it.

    The first problem was that there is no driver available for the device for Windows 7 and later. So I had to resort to an old desktop machine running Win XP. And USB1. At least they knew each other from the old times and the require software was installed. Transferring 19GB over USB one was painfully slow.

    After 2 attempts I realised that some errors I was seeing were related to a failing external 1Gb portable disc drive. I have not used it for a few years. It had enough free space on it ... but not reliably.

    A second old drive was fine once I had freed up some space.

    So all of the old data, in the MP3 player, could only be copied in completely unstructured format, not folder by artist and by album, for example. This led to a few apparent duplicates that XP did not like but the MP3 player was obviously OK with. No big deal.

    I copied the extracted files from the portable drive to an SSD in what is my current main machine and from there to an SD card which had some additional files on it. I wanted to see what the car's system would make of it.

    I inserted the SD card with all of the random files into a USB stick device, plugged it into the car's Infotainment system USB socket, selected for MP3 files (I also checked what is did with some random MP4 video files that were on the card)  and it presented my with a list of all the files (about 3600 of them) offering display by Artist, Album, Genre, etc., all based on whatever EXIF info was available with the files.

    The point of the story, or at least the last part of it, is that the lack of structure in the file storage system, even from 20 + years ago, is no limitation to sharing and using data between different systems and technologies, even if the technologies themselves build barriers by dropping legacy support.

    I'm quite sure that the system would have found files if they were structured into folders but would likely not have needed that structure for any of its operational decisions.

    Hard as it is for those of us brought up in the filing cabinet age to become used to thinking in other ways, it is more flexible to do so even though it means working through concerns and relearning what we do if we head along that road.

    I'm just glad I went through this process before either the MP3 player or the elderly computer finally reach terminal failure - as the faulty (much younger) portable disk drive seems to have done.


  • BeO
    Top Commenter


    The point of the story, or at least the last part of it, is that the lack of structure in the file storage system, even from 20 + years ago, is no limitation to sharing and using data between different systems and technologies, even if the technologies themselves build barriers by dropping legacy support.


    Hard as it is for those of us brought up in the filing cabinet age to become used to thinking in other ways, it is more flexible to do so even though it means working through concerns and relearning what we do if we head along that road.

    I remember a discussion with you many years ago, me being a fan of folder structures (for images) whereas you being kind of an opponent to it.

    My opinion hasn't changed a bit, and your experience and example here with the MP3 files doesn't cut it, because your MP3 files have all the relevant metadata embedded.

    That is not the case with images SOOC whether they are raw files or jpgs. If, for example, Ernst would hold 800k images in just one folder and the catalog system or application breaks down than there is no easy way to find all images of "Sonja's wedding", because that is not part of the file embedded metadata, just as an example, other than viewing 800k images or let them search by an AI, how reasy and reliable that is I don't know.

    On the other hand, if a folder structure requires some manual or semi-manual work for each folder (as in this thread the export and creation of a subfolder CaptureOne holding all the settings currently in the catalog), too many folders (e.g. close to 100k) can be a hinderance.

    I am still convinced that the oldest digital organization method i.e. folders are most future-proof, if the files themselves don't contain the information the folder structure could or would contain.

    Granted, my folder names and structure only uses a limited amount of data, particularly the date or a period (which is also part of any image file incl. raw, so kind of redundant, however that's true only if it is not a raw image from e.g. a film negative from another date), and a trip location, an event, or a theme or subject. 

    On one hand that is the level I feel is sufficiently deep for my needs - and not too deep to create to many folders on the other hand.

    High-level organization by a not too deep folder structure plus metadata for finer granularity organization (which I prefer btw. over any static album in a proprietary software) is still my preferred choice when it comes to image files. 

    EDIT: In my post I was mistakenly referring to Ernst, 800k images and Sonja, which is actually from another thread, but I think it still illustrates my point.

  • SFA
    Top Commenter


    I'm not an opponent of managed folders. Indeed I work with sessions mostly and that, one way or another, is very much a "folder" based workflow  - if one follows the design concept when working with it.

    Rather my point is that current systems that one might wish to use with files can work well (and more flexibly in many ways) WITHOUT the folder structure (which is basically how the catalog database works) and there are advantages to making use of that flexibility. Certainly, that might take a little bit of effort (or more likely adaptation) to use metadata bit for little or no additional effort, if one keeps things as simple as necessary but no simpler, compared to creating and managing folders, say, the potential benefits in many situations can be huge.

    They can also be non-existent for anyone who is not really dealing with large numbers of images, only works in a limited range of subject matter, always uses the same settings in the camera, etc.. That's not meant to be critical in any way - it's a matter of fitting effort to needs.

    If one is to publish images to a library or for commercial needs, for example, then making the metadata do some work will be a requirement (very few exceptions) and so one might as well use it all the way through.

    I'm pretty sure that my recently transferred music collection would have been in folders when created. The files were generated either from CDs or older vinyl LPs (mostly), some random stuff and maybe a few things dragged off reel-to-reel tapes.  Very random files picked from various alternate CD sources originally created in MP3 format are also in there, but not many and most of them seem not to have extended metadata and so are somewhat of a mystery as to their content.

    The MP3 player device with the (almost) complete collection does not store (it seems) with folders so far as Windows reads the disk. So as a source, absent the metadata that describes its files file by file, I would have, at best, just the file names to go on. Worst case just an internal file identifier for Operating System use (as I might find in a iPod for example.


    So the files exist, complete with whatevr metadata they have picked up over the years. 

    The folder are gone. 


    When created I would have used folders with Artist Name - Album Name. 

    Most files re-discovered have those data. So recreating a folder structure, should I wish to do so, would be possible. No doubt there is some software that could do it automatically is asked to. After all, C1 can do that when importing files.

    However, I have no need to do it because the system I wish to use to "play" the files would ignore the folder structure anyway and use the metadata. As most will do these days.

    My time would be best spent updating the metadata of the small percentage of files that have a total lack of a partial lack of (accurate) metadata rather than creating folders and "managing" files into those folders since the system will ignore the folder anyway and the files with incomplete metadata will remain incomplete. I will gain nothing from the time spent creating folders.


    Now, I do tend to name files on import to make the content at least partly identifiable from browsing the files and I do something to extend that when exporting. Indeed folders can be useful when exporting simply to make it easier to collect together images that may need to be sent to a particular place - a person or a client or a newsroom, etc. BUt that is a different problem where "filing" to specific locationS (even the same file to multiple locations) becomes significant sometimes.


    But I still maintain that, in the future, systems working with digital images will not care at all about folder structures but will take a very keen interest in metadata for whatever facilities it offers.


    Relational databases and their offspring tend to be like that. 


  • BeO
    Top Commenter

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of metadata for images and music files.

    Probably every system can read and make use of it (with some exceptions in the case of xmp sidecar files). 

    I'm not a fan of static albums (you didn't mention them but I want to address that here too), as only one system can work with it, the system in which you created them.

    All files in one folder without any sub folders is a silly approach, imo, as it makes you totally dependent on metadata only, and because I don't put content description in the filenames a decent but lean folder hierarchy to save images with metadata embedded or sidely accompanied is what I prefer.


  • SFA
    Top Commenter

    I am totally with you from the point of view of managing a system but it occurs to me that even something like a catalog (in C1 terms) may present as a lot of folders but in reality, to the computer, it's just data blocks and an index system.

    As is the rest of the computer.

    One of the reasons I liked Windows was the potential control over folders and files. The one time I worked with a Mac for a while (a company that was entirely Mac desktop when I arrived to work with them but had swapped the entire 6000 employee staff to Windows within a year due to business software needs that Apple were not addressing)  I never did work out what it was doing with anything. Finding a file or an application icon seemed to happen purely by chance. 


    Since I only needed it for email, mainly, because the system I supported was running on Unix and I had my own Windows notebook to run some other stuff I used, it was not a problem but that and the costs of Apple kit, put me off Apple products for life.

    Shooting events, depending on the event, may have a significant degree of complexity for grouping images destined for interested parties.  Folders rarely suit the need in my experience - so metadata should be applied ... in which case the DAM system and anywhere else the images may end up with "consumers"  should all be usable and discoverable by whatever system they need to inform at some future point. Assuming things do not change beyond all recognition with no conversion path to use along the way.

  • BeO
    Top Commenter

    You have a very good point in that metadata which travels with each file can, well, travel with each file. That's not the case with image containers like folders or static assignments like albums, if only the files or copies and exports thereof go on a trip.

    More than 20years ago I worked for a company which only had Macs and I liked it, the Finder showed files and folders and the application icons were easily accessible and even drag&drop file(s) onto such icons worked to open it in the application, much better than on Windows. For my work I guessed I was 20% more efficient. And the UI looked nicer.

    But in more recent years I hated iTunes (for Windows) for example because I never really understood where my files were and how "synchronize" works (one way or two ways etc.), I never was sure what I was doing (though I seldom used it).

    Anyway, I even thought that my next notebook could be from Apple especially since the power saving Apple chips are on the market, but it seems that C1 and Apple are even more troublesome than C1 and Windows especially when the OS is upgraded, but that's just an observation of the forum here and might be wrong.



Please sign in to leave a comment.