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Tim has been interested in photography for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Science. Writing nature articles allows him to combine his interest in photography and nature into one medium.

Lightroom Folder Structure


A few days ago, I read an article by Matt Kloskowski entitled “5 Lightroom Organizing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them“.  One of the mistakes that he list is using dates as folder names.  He insists, at least for beginners, that it’s better to use a file name related to the photos.  For example, names that he might advocate would be “Florida Vacation” or “Becky’s Wedding”.

Since I learned much of what I know about Lighroom from Scott Kelby’s and Matt Kloskowski’s videos and books (like this one The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter), I followed Matt’s format for the first few years.  However, I ran into several issues including the following:

1)  What to name the folder.  For example, if it’s a trip to Florida and it has Disneyland, bird photography, golf, beach shots, etc., what do I name it?  Some times this is a very minor issue, some times it was a big deal.

2) A consistent naming convention between folders.  What I found is that over time, I started getting a mishmash of names.  For the Florida trip example above, one time I might name it “Florida Trip”, the next time “Awesome Trip with Family”, or “Birds Last Spring”.  This wasn’t much or a problem with a few folders, but after awhile, I would struggle to try and remember names.

3) No logical sequence of folders.  I might have a folder from 6 years ago right beside a folder from yesterday and over time, my naming conventions will have morphed into something that doesn’t even resemble what I did in the past.

So, mainly because of these reasons, I went to a date based system.  Basically, Lightroom will automatically assign a file name at import based on the date;  a typically name wold be “2012-09-22”.  Sometimes, but not always, I’ll add a quick name after the date, such as this (2013Nov1 Florida).  I also use keywords and collections to help locate photos.  The advantages for me (which more or may not apply to you) include:

1) It’s really quick now on import.  Which means I can get to processing quicker.

2) I don’t have to do much thinking at the time of import, which means I save brain power for processing (and believe me, I need to save as much brain power as possible).

3) There is a much more consistent format.

4) There is a logical sequence of folders.

So, I can understand that some people may have trouble with storing things by date.  However, for me, I find it easier and more logical to store photos with this method instead of by simply naming the file.  I also can see why Matt might consider this a Lightroom “mistake”, but to me, it’s more of a preference than a mistake.

What do you think?  Have you run into similar issues?  Do you think it’s a mistake to file by date in Lightroom?  How do you organize your Lightroom folders?

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