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Masterclass: Digital Photo Organization  
User currently offlineBeechcraft From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 828 posts, RR: 34
Posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10277 times:

Another thing that just crossed my mind.

As it is not possible to store your digital photos in a box with a written remark on it, how do you organize your digital collections?

Which Software are you using?
Do you rename your files?
Do you use a special archive for your airliners Photos or aviation photos?

Etc, etc...

Let´s hear how you do it,


That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college!
27 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10255 times:

I use a bulk file renaming program to add the prefix YEAR_MO_DY_NXXXX_(airport code)_(my initials)_" to all files in the folder from the day of shooting. Then I rename the folder to "(airport code)_(date)" and place it in a special archive.

User currently offlineLanas From Argentina, joined Aug 2006, 978 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10251 times:

Hi Denis

Nice thread.  thumbsup  In my case I have a special folder where I place all the pics I shoot. Everytime I download the pics from my camera I create a new folder with the date and place ("Aeroparque 21-06-06", for instance). It helps me keep everything in order. Inside the latter I create a folder called "PS" where I put all the edits I upload onto airliners.
As for renaming, I leave the name of the original camera file (DSC_00145 for instance) and add the major edits I do to it at the back. For example: A picture with sharpening values of 500 in amount and 0.2 in radius will read "DSC_00145_sh500" (I work with 0.2 or 0.3 radius values so I know the 500 won´t refer to a 0.3 radius).


"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." J.R.R. Tolkien
User currently offlineDazbo5 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 2962 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10246 times:

I store all my photo's on a seperate external hard drive. I have different folders called 'aviation photos', 'holiday photos' etc. I then have sub folders for the year, then a further folder for the date an location, eg Manchester 24L 20-11-06. I then rename the files including airline, aircraft type and registration eg. BMI-A330-243-G-WWBM-1. I then make a copy of the original files and store them in a sub-folder named 'originals', and delete / edit the ones I want from their.

That's how I do it. I know theirs plenty of folders and subfolders, but I know where all my photo's are based in date and location order.


Equipment: 2x Canon EOS 50D; Sigma 10-20 EX DC HSM, 50-500 EX APO DG, Canon 24-105 f/4 L, Speedlite 430EX
User currently offlineJorge1812 From Germany, joined Apr 2004, 3153 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10240 times:


I have an excel sheet for the overview of all my planes with

Aircraft Type // Airline // Reg // Specialties (name/color) // Airport // Date // Album (number for slides and now D for digital)

On my harddisk I have only 2 or 3 pics of every plane from a certain angle on a certain date the other are sorted the same way on several DVD's

Folder system is e.g. for D-ACKD (LH CRJ900)

CRJ>>LH>>CRJ900>> file D-ACKD_CRJ_LH_010106.jpg

or for D-AIPR (LH A320)

A318/319/320/321>>LH>>A-320>> file D-AIPR_A320_LH_010106.jpg

I tried to create an access database instead of excel sheet but always failed. Wished something like auto-fill on Anet were I get all the info and can change it if necessary. Anyone have/heard of such a database?


User currently offlineWalter2222 From Belgium, joined Sep 2005, 1312 posts, RR: 23
Reply 5, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 10228 times:

Quoting Dazbo5 (Reply 3):
store all my photo's on a seperate external hard drive. I have different folders called 'aviation photos', 'holiday photos' etc. I then have sub folders for the year, then a further folder for the date and location

That's also the way I do it. Thereafter, renaming the file - the ones that have been selected for editing - to include "Air Force/Airline" - "Aircraft type" - "registration" (I use Scramble a lot) - "any additional info: squadron, special marking, cockpit shot, ..." - "Location where the shot was made" - "date" - "original file name" - "my initials" - sometimes px size

Some examples:







I am not always consistent in this (and I admit it is time consuming), but at least I can find back what I have edited... I wish I could say the same from my collection of old slides, but that is a nightmare  Smile

PS: I also store the originals separately on CD-ROM and/or DVD.

Best regards,


Canon 347d mkII ;-) - EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - EFS18-55mm - EF28-105mm f3.5/4.5 - EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6l IS USM - ...
User currently offlineThierryD From Luxembourg, joined Dec 2005, 2157 posts, RR: 37
Reply 6, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 10217 times:

Pictures are named with 3 variables: XYZ where X is a short description of what can be seen on the shot (mostly the name of the person, object or the registration if it is an aircraft), Y is the location (or airport code) and Z is the date (ddmmyy).
The photos are stored according to date (or event or both).
That way I can easily browse my shots by event or by subject via the windows search tool.

@Walter: hopefully you'll never have to convert back to DOS with the length of your photo names.  


[Edited 2006-11-21 01:19:58]

"Go ahead...make my day"
User currently offlineAirpixphoto From United States of America, joined May 2001, 11 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 10190 times:

I'm selling all my original slides on eBay but I'm keeping a digital scan of each one in case I decide to also sell CD's or DVD's of certain types, like all 707's, DC-8's, DC-3's, etc. down the road.

I store all those recently scanned slides on an external hard drive by manfacturers and types among the manufacturers. All the scans are named using the Reg., description and date like (Northwest DC-9-51 20030421). Thank goodness for long file names.

My digital photos are stored strictly by date so far, but I as I shoot more digital stuff, I'll begin putting them in folders as well. All the photos have a time and date stamp when I right click on the picture, so there's no need to worry about that in the future.

BTW; if you're interested in original slides by some of the world's best photographers and myself, search for '35mm aircraft slide' on eBay and you'll find them. My eBay handle is coldspringcharlie.

User currently offlineEadster From Australia, joined Jan 2005, 2216 posts, RR: 13
Reply 8, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 10183 times:

I just create a folder for all the shots taken on a certain day - whether it be aircraft or other subjects, they all get thrown in together.

Then when I need to find something, I use Picasa to look through what I've taken. I usually know the time and when I took a pic so it doesn't take all that long to find what I'm after. I don't have the time to sit and put tags or a comment to all my pics.

Then they get backed up into 2 or 3 different locations incase of HDD or DVD/CD failure.

User currently offlineNicolasRubio From Argentina, joined Sep 2005, 585 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10179 times:

I have one 80gb hard drive with two partitions of 40gb each... One is named "Windows" (C) and the other one is named "My documents" (D)... In drive D I have a folder called "My pictures", then inside I have a folder called "Airplanes", then a folder inside for each airport ("SABE", "SAEZ", etc), and finally one folder for each spotting day ("11-11-2006" was the last one)... Then I download the pictures from the camera using the windows default tool and name them "AEP XXX" for SABE pictures and "EZE XXX" for SAEZ pictures...

Then I have the same organization for a folder called "Upload queue" which is in my desktop, and it is where I put all the edits, when they are accepted they get deleted and when they are rejected they are edited untill they are accepted or deleted if they are not worth the effort...

When I have a DSLR and therefore be able to shoot 1gb or 2gb each weekend I'll make a DVD backup at the end of each month of shooting (Dual layer DVD or Single layer DVD)...

Cheers, Nicolas

Gripped 7D + Sigma 10-20mm + 17-40L + 50mm f/1.8 II + 70-200mm f/4L IS + EF 400mm f/5.6L + 580EX II
User currently offlineAvsfan From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 250 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10174 times:

All of my aircraft photos are kept on my Epson P-2000 (a portable 40 GB HDD with a 3.8" screen for viewing). When I transfer the photos from my CF card, I place them in folders according to the type of aircraft. All of the military are categorized by type of aircraft, then Squadron/Unit, then date/airport taken at. For the civilian aircraft, they are also categorized by type aircraft, then by tail number. If the photo is of an airliner, then I will separate each airline aircraft by their respective airline. Once that is done I will then separate by tail number.

Since I use Photoshop Elements 5.0 to edit photos, I use the built in organizer and have all of my tags set up the same.

"Oh I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth...Put out my hand and touched the face of God"
User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5896 posts, RR: 38
Reply 11, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 10174 times:
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Quoting Eadster (Reply 8):
I just create a folder for all the shots taken on a certain day - whether it be aircraft or other subjects, they all get thrown in together.

Pretty much what I do as well except my download software automatically creates the folder and modifies the file name to include the date, the frame number and which camera was used(could include the lens as well).
When I edit a photo I replace the camera type with reg (if available) or approp description. I apend the file name with a "c" if it is watermarked or a rev# if edited more than once.

Each month these files, all daily shoot images and edited versions are copied to an external drive and an offsite copy.

If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineF4wso From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 974 posts, RR: 10
Reply 12, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10115 times:

I make a folder for each day titled with the date and location. All of the images I edit are "saved as" to keep the original file intact. The pictures from the camera as saved ", XXX(location), DD MMM YYYY" The download adds a sequence number which helps to find the original file from a sequence. The edited images are saved with adding the construction number, registration or serial, unit or airline, in front of the location and date. If I want to upload it to Anet, I will resize the image and saved with initials_serial_date. All of the images are saved on external hard drives with DVD backup. I do the same for my slide scans.

I chose the sequencing for putting the images in type specific folders. Having the construction number first keeps track of airframes that have been reregistered. The search function on Windows will pull in images across the aircraft folders. For example, searching "Pinnacle" will seek out the CRJ and Saab images.
Cottage Grove, MN, USA

Seeking an honest week's pay for an honest day's work
User currently offlineEDDL From Germany, joined Dec 2002, 738 posts, RR: 14
Reply 13, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 10108 times:

Every file I keep gets a unique 6-digit ID and I enter all relevant information into an excel sheet. I am crossing the Excel 2^16 border soon, so I am going switch to MySQL+PHP in the near future. I keep three copies of every single picture (external HDD + DVD + CD), thats about 500 GB worth of data. I don't mix my RAW files with edits/a.net uploads ... doesn't make any sense because I am uploading less than 1% of my photo work anyway.

I began my "photo career" with this file/folder naming/sorting stuff ... big big mistake ... the most inefficient workflow you can imagine. I am glad I switched early.

Phil / EDDL

User currently offlineAero145 From Iceland, joined Jan 2005, 3071 posts, RR: 17
Reply 14, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 10073 times:

I store my photos in "My Pictures", each day is named "year_month number_date number".

The photos are like this:

"Registration_Orginal photo number_date month year".




I'm planning to save all my usable/good My Pictures pictures to Compact Discs or Digital Versatile Discs and put them into a shelv. Then I'll erase all other photos on My Pictures...

I think I'll purchase the 30GB or 80GB new storage tank from Canon sometime, when I have some money that hasn't to be used for camera accesories.  Smile

Good thread, as again, Denis.

David  old 

User currently offlineJhribar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 10055 times:

Did any of you ever consider using the free space in the image IPTC core data? Next to EXIF data a lot more info can be stored IN the image instead of the file name!

Imagine the possibilities....
How will you find that amazing touchdown shot you took 1,5 years ago...
Or, where is that bloody sunset shot taken in Amsterdam taken in 2005...

You could save a lot of time searching by applying keywords to each picture that are stored in the IPTC core.

Not only can you assign standard keyword like airport, country, airline, type etc., but also you can assign keywords like sunset, close up, front shot, side shot, special colours etc….You can assign as many keywords as you can possibly imagine.

this is a screenshot of Adobe Bridge and some possible keyword sets

Now again imagine in a year from now you are looking for that image taken at AMS, showing the hybrid livery of Great Wall Airlines in a 3/4 front close up...Simple!! Just use any software that can read IPTC core data and do an advance search for the keywords AMS, Hybrid, Great Wall, close up.....after just a few seconds you will find the picture.....

I use embedded keywords for quite some time now and it save me so much time when browsing the archives. I can recommend it to everybody who is serious about data and file management.

For me following works:

I rename my files as follows
x=is a continuing number

Then I assign all keywords I think are necessary to find the picture at any time. The large PSD files (containing layers etc.) I convert to small 1050x700 PSD files. These small PSD files I copy to my database directory. The large files I copy to 2 external hard disks and DVD's.

When I need a certain image (photo sales or whatsoever) I search thousands of small PSD files in the database. Once I found the file I need, the file name is known and the large image can be easily grabbed from the external HDD.

Maybe this method is helpful for you guys as well. It saved me a lot of grey hairs for sure  Smile

I think the main motto should be: Let your computer do the work for you, not you doing the work for your computer!



[Edited 2006-11-21 21:58:35]

User currently offlineJRadier From Netherlands, joined Sep 2004, 4814 posts, RR: 36
Reply 16, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 10034 times:

Pretty interesting things mentioned here. I'm at +/- 2500 photo's right now, and no good system. Things I like best till now are EDDL's and Jeroens workflows.

Before this thread I was considering something along the lines of EDDL's concept, just a large database with a good front-end in VB.net (which would be a learning project for me as well), but more expanded over time. I would start with EDDL's idea, and then add thumbnails etc (sort of like a.net for my own photo's, but then customized).

I like Jeroen's idea as well, but I fear that when you have a lot of photo's (wich will create itself over time) it will slow down. Plus I don't really feel for editing all the photo's, many of wich are not so special (just normal side-ons) and I don't really need to see every time.

Will keep an eye on this thread to find some good idea's

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and ther
User currently offlineBeechcraft From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 828 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10012 times:

The keyword thing reminds me:

Does anyone have a decent Keyword set for lightroom?

I´m still developing mine, but maybe someone already did the work...


That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college!
User currently offlineAviatorG From St. Lucia, joined Apr 2005, 265 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 9971 times:

Quoting Beechcraft (Thread starter):
I use a bulk file renaming program

Can you please share the name of this software? It would be a great help keeping my photos organized in that format if I managed to get it.  Smile

I usually just cut the DCIM folder (with photos) from my CF card, rename it to the date the photos were taken, & send it my USB harddrive for storage & future editing.

User currently offlineCalgaryBill From Canada, joined May 2006, 686 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 9966 times:

Quoting AviatorG (Reply 18):

Can you please share the name of this software? It would be a great help keeping my photos organized in that format if I managed to get it. Smile

I don't know what software Beechcraft is using, but Bridge can do it. I also think Nikon Capture can as well (not 100% sure on the latter).


User currently offlineRaptors From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2005, 183 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 9958 times:

Wow what a lot of different ways!

Here's one more.

I download my photos to a folder on my desktop, and then rename it. For example LHR 06NOV06. I leave it on my desktop until most things have been edited etc (I leave all photos, edited or not in the same folder) and then I move the entire folder. Also on my desktop I have a folder called 'Aircraft Photos', I double click on this. Within this folder I then have various continents, i.e. 'Europe'. If I then double click on this I have a list of countries that I have been to within Europe, in the above case I would double click 'United Kingdom'. Finally I then have a list of airports within this country and simply drag my LHR 06NOV06 folder into the one marked 'Heathrow'. All of my LHR shots are contained within this folder. Although there is a bit of double clicking here and there, this system makes it very easy to navigate round finding what I want with ease.

As for the specific file names, I use this format:
This way I have options when using the windows search tool plus I have most of the info I need when uploading to this site.

It works well for me but it is interesting to see how others do it to.



User currently offlineBeechcraft From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 828 posts, RR: 34
Reply 21, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 9950 times:

Quoting AviatorG (Reply 18):
Quoting Beechcraft (Thread starter):
I use a bulk file renaming program

Somehow this got mixed up. I never said that.

Quoting Flyfisher1976 (Reply 1):
I use a bulk file renaming program

..but he did  Smile


That's it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I'm going to clown college!
User currently offlineGarry From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2006, 186 posts, RR: 3
Reply 22, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 9941 times:

Hi everyone - my system is similar to most.

On the hard drive I have folder for Photography, then individual folders for Aviation etc, it then drills down to location and date. I back this up on to a Lacie external hard drive, and back up again on my laptop.

In addition, I use Adobe Bridge and place keyword tags including, aircraft type, airline, location, registration. This is a great facility and allows very quick search of all photographs. For example, I recently flew out to Doha on Qatar Airways A330 A7-AEE. When I wanted to see the pictures I had of this aircraft I simply did a search in Bridge and in seconds the ten or so I had came up.

It's now a part of my workflow so after a day's shooting I'll review the shots taken, keep those I like and then append keyword data to each - it does not take long.

If anyone has not used it I'll highly recommend it as an excellent file management database as Jeroen has mentioned.


User currently offlinePetertenthije From Netherlands, joined Jul 2001, 3560 posts, RR: 10
Reply 23, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 9866 times:

Give each photo a reference number, and put that number in a MS Access database. In this database I also list plane type, subtype, registration, airport, airline, date, remarks etc etc.

Each reference number is set up the same. For instance:


20061022 is the date, obvioulsy. Typing it like this instead of 22102006 will help with sorting the photos by filename.
003 is the number of the plane I photographed. The first plane (registration) I get a number of gets 001, the 2nd 002, the 3rd... well, you get the idea. I find that a 3-digit number is sufficient. Just 2 digits (99 planes) is not enough, but I do not expect to ever get a day with 1000 or more planes. If the registration is unknown, I use 000 instead. Same goes for other aviation related shots I made that day such as control towers.
01 this is the number of photos for aircraft 003. In case I get more then 1 shot of a specific aircraft. Have yet to shoot over 100 shots of one plane. I do not think I will get this trigger happy, so a 2 digit number should suffice.

It takes some time to sort the photos and put the information in the database. But after a while you get the hang of it and a days shooting can be entered into the system in an hour or two. The fun part of using Access instead of Excel is that Access offers better search and sorting options. Also, it is easier to make drop-down lists in Access thus speeding up the data entry.

User currently offlineLinco22 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 1389 posts, RR: 13
Reply 24, posted (9 years 6 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 9849 times:

I have an 'airliners' folder. In that I have a folder for each airport. Then each days shooting is in one folder. I have another folder which I put all my edited shots into. I feel I would benefit from a better system


25 Gerardo : After a photo session, the first thing I do is to rename all photos with breezebrowser. My syntax is: actype_airline_reg_date_photoid i.e. a343_lx_hb-
26 JRadier : Keep in mind that CD's and DVD's start to give errors over time, wich might result in the loss of photo's
27 Post contains images S.p.a.s. : I recently started with digital, but I had a previous system in place already for prints and slides that I started to scan many months ago: For slides
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