Storing Images – Best Practice

Posted on October 28, 2016

Photography storage and archiving can quickly become daunting, regardless of whether you’re a professional photographer or not. It doesn’t take too long to be inundated with hundreds of images and before you know it there are tens of thousands of them! Personally I’m managing over 400 000 images.

Keep It Simple
To make a storage system durable it has to be simple. It isn’t rocket science. Images can be stored hierarchically based on when they were captured (Year Month Day): 2016 > 10 > 20161028.

file structure

A simple file structure for managing thousands of images

This filing system can grow as your image archive does.

Cameras (including smartphones) store the time the photo was captured as metadata inside the image. When transferring images several applications can automatically create unique folders and filenames based on that data. For over a decade I’ve relied on Photo Mechanic to do this important task which includes making a second (backup) copy.

photo mechanic

Applications like Photo Mechanic can automate the process for you

Photo Mechanic is overkill for the average consumer who can first look at preinstalled programs. If you’re a creative professional the Adobe Creative Suite offers simple solutions like Bridge through to more advanced offerings in Lightroom.

adobe bridge

Adobe offers Bridge and Lightroom for image management

Don’t forget to have a back up system for your images too!

This year makes 20 years of managing my own digital images, and another 10+ years of film before that. As soon as I began scanning film I searched the best ways to manage scans as well as ‘born-digital’ images. I was quick to discover there were no universal solutions but there were systems used in newspapers, computer filing systems and museums. This led to being part of the solution for managing images through the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines and the International Organization for Standardization.

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