Thursday, September 3, 2009

Organizing Your Photography Part IV (and final)


Finally we arrive at the last installment of our discussion of some thoughts about how you might consider organizing your photography.  As a reminder, here is the overview of the steps I use:

  1. Import photos through Lightroom to the current year catalog.
  2. Process Photos and mark the “select” photographs
  3. Export and copy select photographs to the gallery
  4. At year’s end, close out the calendar year and export to a collection of current year selects:  (e.g. 2009 Select Photos).
  5. At year’s end, copy both the closed year catalog (e.g. 2008 Catalog) and the select collection (e.g. 2008 Select Photos) to a secure storage device.
  6. Revise you gallery structure to be consistent with how you think.

In previous posts, I detailed steps one through three.  In this final post I will make a blitz through steps 4 through 6.  Steps 4 and 5 are closely related, so sticking with the football metaphor we will tackle them together.

Headless Boardman-2

Both steps 4 and 5 deal with my process for closing out the photography for a given year.  In other words, at the end of a year, I want to neatly wrap up and store the photography for that year.  At year’s end, I will have the catalog for the entire year with all the “select” photos flagged in Lightroom.  With all the flagged photos selected, I export the group to an independent collection (collection is a specific lightroom term).  This becomes my primary reference for the year.  Said another way, all the photos I really care about are in this collection.  Smaller collections such as the “2008 Select Photos” help Lightroom run quicker and makes searching for past photos easier.

With respect to the annual catalog, no action is necessary to create it – the catalog is progressively assembled over the course of the year.  The only remaining step is to copy both the catalog and “Select Photos” to a secure storage device.  In my case, it is a gizmo I can not recommend more strongly; the Drobo (

Headless Boardman

A final clean up portion to this step is to remove the annual catalog from my working computer to clear up disk space.  So far, I keep the select photo collection on my working computer.  However, I am not far from having to move these as well.

Finally, we arrive at step 6:  Revise your gallery structure to be consistent with how you think.

In the third installment of this series (Organizing your photography Part III) I talked about why I have a gallery structure and how I organize it.  The point I want to make with step six in the process is that the categories in your gallery do not have to remain set.  As I accumulate more and more photos, the structure of my gallery changes regularly.

Dance Move

Originally, my gallery started out as event based, then it transitioned to genre based (landscape, portrait, sports, etc.), then I added further distinction to the genres (i.e. Landscape – Venezuela), then I brought back some of the event based categories.  I frequently add another category when I get 10 or more of a specific type of photograph.  For instance, if I were to accumulate 10 mountain bike shots of people doing faceplants, that would deserve a gallery folder of it’s own.  In summary, my recommendation is to allow your gallery to be fluid and evolve a structure that aligns with the way you think.

Aspiring Boarder

I hope you found these thoughts on organizing your photography useful.  As I said when I started this series, I do not intend this process to be prescriptive, but rather a place to start from which you can adapt a process that works for you.

The photography featured in this post is a continuation from the Bridge Spot Collection 1.  The rest of the black and whites from this shoot, and commentary on black and white photography, will be coming soon.

Go make some great photography!


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