File Naming Strategies and Work Flow

The file that recreates your image needs to have a name. Not all names are equal however. You should create a system of naming your files so that you can readily find the images you want in a timely fashion. One way to make your search easier is to keep your EXIF information readily available. But having a system in place for naming your files makes the search far easier. The place to start your naming strategy is with your camera (if so equipped). 

Your digital camera creates a file that contains all the information needed to create the image it saw. Most of the better cameras will let you place your own label for the image files. My way of handling the naming of my camera’s files was rather straight forward, I wanted to be able to enforce my copyright protection of the original images, so I made sure to include my initials as the starting point for the file. Since I also was trying to keep track of the number of times my shutter was depressed, I added that info as a suffix.  That format works well for the initial images.  You can choose to set your camera’s naming system to  whatever works for you.

The downloaded images from my camera go straight to a hard drive as is and the folders on that drive are set up by the date the images were shot. I add key words to the images at this time that include where the image was shot, what the topic or image is, my own identifier, and any relevant descriptive words that would enable me to find the image when looking for something suitable for my intended use. Key words are part of the EXIF data file that stays with the image. I copy some of these images to another hard drive along with their EXIF data when I plan to actually do something with the image. I NEVER ALTER the original image. 

The image I am altering gets a new name. The name is dependent upon my intended use. If it is to become a psychedelic image the file will retain the original file’s name with a P added just prior the file type designator (.jpg, .psd, .tif, etc.).  I also name some image files for the location they were shot (Barcelona, Kona, Gilbert, etc). Folders within the hard drive these altered image PSD files are located are sub labeled by the date the images were taken. Thus if I want to find an image shot in Juneau, I wouldn’t have to remember the dates I was in Juneau, I can either do a keyword search on the computer and it will find all the images, or I can just go to my Juneau folder and find all the good images and by looking at the sub folder’s date, I can go and check out the original images for something that may have been overlooked.

Having a good naming strategy improves your work flow as you aren’t stuck guessing what DSR5683 may be an image of. I’d much rather look for images of my family in a folder that says “Family” Than one that says “20170721” or “June 30, 2001”.

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