Organizing Original Image Files

Most users will be using digital cameras for capturing their images, resulting in a large number of original files. Save all your original files. (Users working with film can organize with physical storage files. Refer to the web site for my comments on film).

You can do much of the image organization within your computer's file system, but for these examples, use Adobe Bridge. In many ways, Adobe Bridge works as both a traditional folder view on your computer and as a file management tool. Launch Adobe Bridge either by running the application separately or by selecting File>Browse... in Photoshop.

Adobe Bridge provides a pane for "Favorite" folders. Move your folder for holding your original images into this pane by dragging the folder into the Favorites pane. You can drag folders and files between Bridge and your computer folder system.

Create a folder tree for your original image files. Base the hierarchy for this tree on the date images were created. This makes it easier to add new image folders, and "date" is a reasonable structure for searching these original images. My folder tree includes levels for years, months, and individual folders for projects within a month. Using this hierarchy, it's fairly easy to find original files even years after capturing them.

My hierarchy for original images

When you have captured the images for a particular project, create a folder within your original images tree for this project, including the date in the folder name. Copy your original, unedited image files into this folder.

Now you can look through thumbnails of your images in Bridge. This is especially useful for images shot as RAW files with your digital camera since RAW files are usually not visible in a typical folder tool. The thumbnails can be resized by dragging the thumbnail slider at the bottom of the thumbnail window in Bridge, allowing for easy previewing of the images.

Rename the image files to something useful. Within Bridge, select all of the image files in the folder, select Edit>Select All..., and select Tools>Batch Rename...

Elements for building filenames

Firt ■■: * < ■ rtrj [>.") Avufcr lhr OW

Elements for building filenames

2 IwjHftaaih

Firt ■■: * < ■ rtrj [>.") Avufcr lhr OW

BS Id 3

Click to add a new filename element

Sample filename

Batch rename tool

Create a naming convention that works well for you. I typically include text in the filenames that refers to the general category of the images plus a sequence

Ctrl+AH+A

number for each of the images. This makes it easy to identify a single image from a photography project. I usually also add "NEW" to my original image files to identify them as unedited files. Rename all of the images, not just the images you want to edit. And remember to keep all of the images, including the bad ones.

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