Skip to main content

File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®

Lesson 16 from: The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow

Michael Clark

File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®

Lesson 16 from: The Professional Photographer’s Digital Workflow

Michael Clark

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

16. File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Shooting Workflow: Set-up The Camera


Shooting Workflow: Histograms and Exposure


Shooting Workflow: Sensor Cleaning


Overview of Color Management


Color Management: Monitor


Color Management: Workspace


Color Management: Monitor Calibration


Color Management: Do I Need This?


Introduction to Lightroom®


Download & Import Images With Lightroom®


Lightroom® Preferences


Six Ways to Speed-up Lightroom®


To DNG or Not to DNG?


A Logical Editing Process in Lightroom®


File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®


Batch Renaming in Lightroom®


Entering Metadata in Lightroom®


Managing Images in Lightroom®


Introduction to the Develop Module in Lightroom®


Lightroom® Develop Module


Sharpening, Chromatic Aberration & Vignetting in Lightroom®


Graduated Filters & Spot Tool in Lightroom®


Converting images to Black & White in Lightroom®


Creating Panoramas in Lightroom


Creating HDR Images in Lightroom®


Lightroom® to Photoshop® Workflow


Export Images to Photoshop®


Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Basic Adjustments


Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Retouching


Finalizing Images in Photoshop®: Saving Master Files


Make Fine Art Prints: The Cost


Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Printers


Make Fine Art Prints: Ink Jet Papers


Make Fine Art Prints: Understand ICC Profiles


Make Fine Art Prints: Sharpen Image


Printing From Photoshop®


Printing From Lightroom®


Compare Monitor to Physical Prints


Printing Black & White Image


Extended Workflow: Back Up Images


Extended Workflow: Storage Options


Extended Workflow: Archiving Images


Submitting images to Clients


Prepping Images for Social Media


Alternative Workflows


Final Q&A


Lesson Info

File & Folder Naming in Lightroom®

Let's talk about file and folder naming. And this is one of those topics that I see all the time as a thorny issue because it's basically how do I keep track of my images is what this comes down to. Or how do we keep track of our images so little it of key note here. The folder and the file names have to be unique so one thing I will say if you just download your images with the file names straight out of the camera, remember when we talked about how those are gonna be zero to 999, and so you're probably gonna shoot more than 10,000 pictures in the space of time that you have your camera, hopefully. At some point you're gonna start creating the same file names over and over so if you don't change your file names when you download or after you download at some point, the odds of you writing an image over into a folder by accident and deleting an old image that you didn't even know you deleted, gets pretty high real quick. So it's critical that you create unique file names and unique fol...

der names. Using the date is the easiest way to do that. Also backing up, I would also highly suggest that you put all of your images under one hard drive so you know where everything's at. Maybe it's on your laptop if you shoot in JPEGs and you don't have that many pictures, maybe it's on an external drive and you back it up we'll talk about that more tomorrow. But just keep it all in one place. So that you know exactly where it's at. Some people might have a rat's nest of their images right now and they have no clue where stuff's at or they can't, takes them forever to find an image this is what we're going after right now. So create a system that you can grow easily. We're gonna talk about some examples here. You know. And use whatever works for you. If the date works for you, upfront, we'll go into some examples here, here's some folder naming examples. So at the bottom is my option, but there's a few options you know the date, the date makes any file or folder name unique. And you don't necessarily have to have the day but you need to have the year and the month at least. But that makes it very unique file, folder name. Or file name for that matter. The second one, hawaii_maui_0418 is April and you know that you're in Maui and you know that you're in Hawaii you know that from the top one as well, so it just depends on what works for you. For me as a pro, I often get requests for a large number of different clients for images that are very specific to a location, like, Nat Geo will be like, we need pictures of Las Vegas, Mauii, Red Rocks, Tahiti, Southern France, what do you got. So for me it makes the most sense to actually start with the location because I don't really care about the date. I'm not a photo journalist shooting news where we're really worried about the date and time of whatever happened. So it just depends on what you're doing. If that is you, the date's a really easy way to go. I would just always suggest that you put some note as to what this is 'cause if you just do dates, you have no clue where your images, what's in that folder. 'cause I'm not gonna remember what happened on such and such date. And if I go on a trip where it's multiple days, say like Patagonia I'm down there for a month. I'm not gonna divide those folders out into individual folders for every day I'm just gonna throw every image I shot in that whole month into one folder and if I need to find the date I'll go look in the meta data for the actual day and time. So those are some examples for folder names. And for file naming. Same deal. So these are basically the same examples, I did have, I think it was Patagonia, Jane C, we're at Patagonia with the head photo editor for the company was like Mike, man, for the love of God, put your name in your file names it's like I see a hundred thousand images a month and I don't wanna have to go searching for who took this picture, and I was like that's brilliant I'll do that so I put my name or M Clark at the beginning of every file name. I don't do that for the folders obviously but for the file names so that somebody can say oh this is Mike's image, you know, here we go. So that just makes it easy. So the bottom one is actually what I do in this example and the hape is pretty random looking but it's an old school thing I did with my slides it's a four letter, so that's Hawaii, is what that means to me, I am the only one who knows what that means but it's a system I've used forever. So that's not necessarily something you're gonna copy it's basically a code name for the location. So like California and Bishop which is a big climbing area would be cabi, you know but, whatever system works for you. And what I highly suggest is take a post it note make your system, copy one of these ideas here or some other version that has the date in it and is unique, write the folder name, you know, how that's gonna work, and the file name, and you stick with that forever and eternity and you never deviate from that. Because as soon as you start deviating it's like, oh these are family pictures this is whatever, lost in space pictures, you know so, get a system get it dialed in and if you do have the rat's nest, which I'm getting is a good chunk of people out there, 'cause I had it at one point, we all had it at one point till we figured out what we were doing. Start new and just create this new system and if you have time, go back and clean up the rat's nest if you don't, make it as good and as tidy as you can and just keep moving forward because that can be kind of a nightmare for a lot of people. And you can see in terms of folder structure here what I do. For me, so wherever these images are, I'll have the full file name so this is Hawaii that shoot in January, so it's January 2018 0118, and then I have a bunch of sub folders that are the exact same name underscore Jpeg, PSD, Raw, Tiff so all of the raw files go into here and then they're renamed with my naming convention and you'll see there's 15,701 files in there but there's XMP files, so there's two of every file so there's about 8,000 files. And then my worked up master files are Photoshop documents PSDs and then JPEGS these are what go on my website or go out to Instagram or social media and then the tiff files here are what I send the client, they're eight bit compressed tiffs and we'll go over those file types tomorrow afternoon as well that's just how I keep it organized. The beauty of this system is that I'm organized outside of Lightroom I'm organized before I even get into any software. So even if Lightroom crashes, Lightroom disappears, I switch to a different software down the road somebody calls me up and says hey, I need images of Hawaii and you know, we want pictures of pipeline or jaws or whatever I don't even have to go into software I can just look at my folder names and go to that place, and then I can go to the tiff files or the PSD files, which are the worked up files and there's not gonna be thousands of those there's gonna be a few hundreds or maybe 20 or and I can find stuff pretty fast. And so when you import with these names into Lightroom that's what shows up in your folder structure is the actual folder name you use so the key thing here is you don't wanna just like create this cool folder name and then create raw images, jpegs, for every single sub folder. Because then you're gonna have a whole bunch of folders that show up that say raw images and you have no idea which one is which. So make sure you make use descriptive names for everything to keep yourself hyper organized. And I realize this is, seems a little nutty but trust me it'll pay off in the end down the road. One question here is, Micheal, some of my older files don't have the date created in metadata, oh, uh, how do I go about archiving those in the type of, in this type of archiving system. They don't have the dates in the metadata? Yeah. That's pretty unusual. It's pretty unusual right? I don't know that I've ever seen that in a file. Yeah. So I don't know exactly. You can manually do it and I didn't actually rename my files yet but we can do that here. I mean if you know which date they were shot on. You can kind of add it in in line-- Manually do it in the renaming. Perfect. That's about as good as we can do. Great answer thank you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Workflow Outline

Bonus Materials with RSVP

The Professional Photographers Digital Workflow Ebook Sample

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Michael is a true professional and readily explains all of the nitty gritty issues of a photographer's digital workflow, including important things like Color Management, Lightroom workflows, Printing, and more. He is eager to answer your questions and has a thorough knowledge (after all, he worked with the original engineers at Adobe and wrote a book on it) and passion that he loves to share. He can get way deep into the subject, which I found fascinating. You can tell Michael has great experience in teaching and also likes to learn from his students. He is very authentic, honest, and direct. I highly recommend this class, and look forward to another one of Michael's courses in the future!

a Creativelive Student

This is an excellent course. It reinforced what I already knew and enhanced my spotty skills with new knowledge. I really like Michael's explanation of saving the document for print and web and the importance of doing these differently. Using the histogram to show this was terrific. Each session there is some valuable gem.

Elizabeth Harrigan

This class is fantastic and is just what I was looking for! The teacher knows the subject WELL and he makes it understandable and easy to follow along. In each segment, he gets right to the point explaining just enough content to make it understandable. He doesn't waste your time. I highly recommend this class. It's the best tech class I have watched on Creative Live.

Student Work