Help me consolidate, organize, and better manage my photos!
March 25, 2011 5:01 PM   Subscribe

I have multiple computers with multiple folders of photos (with many copies of the same photos on multiple computers). Help me organize them!

I need the total solution from start to finish and I need the hive mind's help.

My initial thought is that I would first batch rename my photos by searching for some script that would strip the time/date from the EXIF data and rename the file based on that. ( Ie. 2011-03-25-11-00-pm) . After that, I would move all the files to my new 1.5 TB external hard drive that I am buying for this purpose. Duplicates would be apparent and could be reviewed to determine if they are true copies.

At that point, I would delete crappy copies of photos and try to organize groups of photos into specific folders such as "Summer Break 2009". (The reason I'm assuming this would be a good idea is because I've read not to have 10000s of pictures in one folder.- Correct me if I'm wrong)

In the future, I would need a workflow such as "Dump photos onto laptop, delete photos you don't want, batch convert to date/time names, move to External hard drive."

If anyone can share their method/experiences for consolidating, organizing, sorting, or storing their photos, I'd appreciate it.

I've notice in prior years, Lightroom was recommended but I'm not sure I need a heavyweight program like that to do this type of stuff, although the ability to tag photos would be appealing.
posted by InvestorMD to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Currently my workflow in Lightroom is: plug in camera to laptop, Lightroom starts, uncheck the images on the camera I don't want to import, batch tag/process them, and then they get saved to my external hard drive in folders corresponding to year/month/day. Lightroom also has the ability to detect duplicate photos on import [they are unchecked by default].

Many similar programs can do the same thing I believe. Perhaps Picasa may be worth looking into for a free alternative, if you haven't looked into it already.

These types of programs usually let you batch-rename files depending on their EXIF data, as you mentioned.

Good luck and happy photo managing!
posted by spec at 5:51 PM on March 25, 2011

Metadata is fine and dandy provided you have an interface that understands how to read and query that metadata. Usually this means you either you go whole-hog and invest time/energy into a specific vendor's "workflow" (Picassa, Lightroom, etc.) or you go the opposite route and find the greatest common factor. In the case of images, that means metadata goes in directory names. The next question then is how can I most rapidly scan a potentially vast number of folders? I usually name folders by date (Year-Month-Day) and brief event description, (comma) location. So…
2011-03-25 - Silly Cats, Portland, ME
If you want to correlate images by tags or group them by longitude and latitude or any of that fancy stuff, this probably isn't the answer for you. But if you basically just want to store the images in a rapidly-accessible, limitless structure that (and here's the important thing) works everywhere, then you might want to try my lo-fi route.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:55 PM on March 25, 2011

Irfanview is a well known photo/image management program, it's free and very powerful at doing batch conversion/renames. I just looked and one of the options in the Batch Rename supports EXIF, though I haven't used it myself (click File - Batch Conversion/Rename - Options Button for Batch Rename Settings - Help Button, look for $Ex for EXIF tagging inside file name, but you need to use the EXIF plug in).

I found a discussion on the topic. Also the CNET page for Irfanview (download/reviews) is here and here's a link for Irfanview plugins.

Another feature of Irfanview that I absolutely love and that helps me a LOT with my photo organization is the Move/Copy feature. Use the left/right arrow keys to navigate through the images in a folder and then use F7 to bring up a dialog with up to 14 target directories to Move the file to. F8 is the same idea but for Copy and a separate set of target directories. You can get quite good at remembering what folder is what number, and just click F7 then 1 or F7 and 5, etc. Once you do a coarse move of your files into general categories, you can then revisit those 14 major folders and start breaking them down further. The quick movement through the directory combined with the quick F7 key and folder number can go a lot faster than it sounds.

Note...for the above to work go into Irfanview Options - Properties/Settings - Extensions and click the Images Only button and click the "Load only associated types while moving through directory" radio button.
posted by forthright at 8:24 PM on March 25, 2011

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