As a professional photographer, when your eye is behind the lens of a camera, you’re in the zone. Capturing beautiful images is what you do best, and you’ve transitioned your passion into a career – a feat many aren’t fortunate enough to accomplish. However, in order to be a truly successful photographer, you likely learned very quickly that there’s just as much to be done away from the lens as there is behind it.
Photography drives your business forward, but it isn’t the only aspect of your business. Your to-do list is a mile long, and time spent searching for a digital photo is time you could spend creating or accomplishing the other endless tasks required to run a business. Thankfully, there’s a better way. Organizing your digital files can free up time and propel your business forward.
Top 5 Tips to Organize Your Digital Photos
Taking the time to get your digital photos organized will create efficiencies and improve your overall workflow. It may seem daunting at first, but with these simple tips you’re only a few simple steps away from having your images easily searchable and readily available for your next project.
1. Revamp Your File Name System
The most efficient file naming system depends on your particular needs. However, the most important aspect of any digital file naming is that it is consistent. Naming one batch of photos based on client name and another batch by date will only create confusion. So, we recommend you create a systematic naming system to keep everything organized.
Popular methods include starting with the date (year-month-day). Next, add a client name or descriptor of your choice. Your company’s name or initials are a great option, especially if you plan to share these files. If multiple individuals use the same system, you may want to go even further by adding the photographer’s initials. Lastly, number the photos. If you have 100 photos from a wedding for a particular client, this will be the distinguishing factor in helping you keep track of all your files. Your final file name may end up looking something like this: 2021-06-27-Doe-John-Wedding-SGP-DA-235.
Regardless of the naming system you choose to use, the crucial point is that there is a system and that it is consistent throughout all your digital files. While this may seem like a lot of information, this data will be critical in keeping large quantities of photos organized and easily searchable.
2. Apply Metadata
Metadata is simply data that details other data. Adding metadata to your files creates even more data points for locating a particular photo easily. Though dates and events are considered metadata, these photo tags can go far beyond those simple descriptors. Depending on what software tools you leverage, these tags can be automatically assigned to the photo using artificial intelligence, or manually assigned by you.
If you assign a “dog” metadata tag to any photo containing a dog, you can then easily locate every photo in your system with a dog in it within seconds, regardless of how vast your photo library may be. To take it further, imagine you only want to locate photos of dogs barking. Metadata gives you the power to locate very specific images among thousands of photos. Taking the time to utilize metadata will take your photo organization and business to the next level.
3. Sort into Folders
Once you’ve established a file naming system and included metadata, you’re well on your way there! But without sorting these photos into folders, you basically still have the equivalent of a bunch of photos labeled but dumped into a big pile on your dining room table. What if those photos were then sorted into boxes by year, and within the boxes were envelopes labeled with a person’s name? Suddenly, that pile of photos dumped on the table feels a little more accessible. Creating digital folders and sorting your photos into folders and subfolders enhances the navigational path to access your digital photos.
Once again, the folder system you choose depends on what works best for you. Continuing the example above, you may create folders by year, month, and client. All photos created in 2021 would reside in a folder. Within that folder would be additional folders for each month of the year. For example, Joe Doe’s 235th wedding photo could then be found in the Joe Doe client file, which is inside the June folder, located in the 2021 folder.
4. Consider a Cloud Storage System
Cloud-based storage systems simply provide a safe place to store your images. While our computers can handle a lot, most of them are limited in the size and amount of files they can store. As a photographer, it’s easy to fill up storage quickly, so Cloud storage expands your storage capabilities and removes the concerns of only having your photos on a particular device. Because your photos reside safely on the cloud, you can rest assured knowing that your photos are secure and accessible from wherever you are, even if your computer or laptop goes down.
5. Utilize Digital Asset Management (DAM)
To spend less time digging for your photos and more time doing what you’re best at, you need the right tools. Utilizing a digital asset management system (DAM) empowers you to do your best work in record time. Rather than just a storage system, a DAM is more like a command central for your photos – a place to store, access, share, and track your images. A DAM tool also gives you the necessary information to understand how your images are impacting your business.
Utilizing a DAM system makes sharing your photos with clients seamless and professional. Advanced tools simplify creating collections and personalizing your photo storage solutions, including adding logos and watermarks. Working with other creatives? Easily share images with others on your team through a dedicated portal. DAMs allow you to utilize business intelligence to create custom reports and track trends. Not only is your time not wasted searching for files, but the data collected allows you to track trends and optimize your collateral development.