Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Photography tip no.01 Photoarchive – Naming your files

with 40 comments

These days I burned 76 DVD which contained about 12.373 images that I’ve shot in last three and a half months. Conserning that this is my usual quota, I had to work hard to set up an archiving system which will be efficiant and simple enough to mantain. There is not a magic formula that would fit everybody, so lets go through questions together.

Question number one: HOW SHOULD I NAME FILES?

This is probably the most important question in the process of photoarchiving and it makes it a fundation that should remain the same for next ten years if not forever. Or putted better, what kind of information should the name of the file contain that will I value the most in the future? Should I name my files based on subject they contain? Like Slovenia.jpg or Peterlin_in_shorts.jpg

Well, I decided that in the future the most valued information will certainly be a location of the file. So from the name of the file I will know where to look the the image. Simple enough. So if I have 12GB of images I will split them in three folders in the size that will fit on the DVD. In my case each folder contains 4,4 GB and I name folders D001, D002, D003. Every DVD or CD from the photoarchive I burn in two copies that I keep in separate buildings. If my house will burn, I’ll still have my digital images.

arhiv_0187.jpgThen I rename my files. For example: My camera originally name my file _MG_8217.jpg. Let’s say the file is in the folder D001 and it’s about to be burned on the DVD named D001. I’ll rename the file D001_8217.jpg So I keep the original number of the file and I add an information on which DVD I burned the file. In the future when I’ll see the picture I’ll know exactly where to look for the original file.

It does get a bit more complicated when you shoot in raw + jpg mode. For each picture camera produces two files _MG_8217.raw and _MG_8217.jpg. You have to find a way to rename files in the way that both names remain the same, since they are the same image. af5-rename.jpgI found a jolly good software A.F.5 Rename your files that is free of charge and with it you can add string D189_ and keep last four numbres from original name. In that case you can still track the picture that you’ve send to your friend before adding a string name of the number of DVD. Like pictures for the blog I use before I rename, but since I keep the last four digits I can easily track them in my photoarchive.

analog_0189.jpgFor analog archive I kept similar logic. The name of the file tells me where the original film is kept. I number maps in which I’m keeping my films and I number sheets of films. When I scan a shot number 36 I’ll name digital file 26_146_36. If I need a description of the image I added after the number of the image. Like 26_146_36_Peterlin_in_Slovenia

That’s it for now. In the future I’ll talk about which software to use for keeping a track in this ocean of images.


Written by Borut Peterlin

28 December, 2006 at 00:00

Posted in Uncategorized

40 Responses

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  1. Huh Borut tole je pa nekaj čisto drugega, kot dnevno bombardiranje s Strojani.

    Hvala za poučno branje…


    28 December, 2006 at 08:39

  2. Nice article! Since you shoot a lot of photographs I must say you need a good system for organisation of files.
    I would just like to remind you of something most of us do not know until somebody remind us (or we learn that the hard and painful way). CDs and DVDs are not good for permanent archives. I have read stories and experienced myself that even if you do not even touch your CD with images it is possible the CD (or some files on it) will be unreadable in two years time.
    I have missed if you use a database system for storing file names – for faster searching for files that are backed up in an achieve and deleted from hard disk? Since you have indexed all your file names with the number of the DVD it would be easy to create at least a text based database.
    Good work otherwise…


    28 December, 2006 at 15:17

  3. I agree with Luka. It is good practice to make another copy of your DVD every couple of years and keep rotation of the files. Other option is to buy SATA drives as they are inexpensive nowadays and use them for large backups.


    28 December, 2006 at 15:40

  4. I agree too – DVDs are really not suitable for long term storage as they (reportedly) deteriorate pretty fast.

    I use external hard drive for backup (not as often as i should).

    For the archive i care about (mostly travel-related stuff) i write captions and keywords into IPTC fields with Adobe Bridge and sort files in hierarchy according to location. For the rest i use just date + event name.

    Here’s how they do these things in high-end proffesional studio:

    (overkill for most of us, i know….)

    Overkill za večino od nas, vem…


    28 December, 2006 at 18:02

  5. I agree with you as well that we need to be cautios. I must say I had no problems whatsoever, but as I said I burn two copies hoping that I’ll notice first before both copies would be ruined.

    My CDs are about 7 years old and still work OK. Actually I’ll haven’t checked it this year, but my oldest CD in my photoarchive is 5 years old and it works perfectly. As I said I had no problems whatsoever, but I do use CD from established manufactures.

    Raid system is great and we do use it in Mladina, but it’s a bit too expensive. Another problem with harddrive is that it’s easy to overwrite it. It happen to me that whole folder Fotografija was overwritten, but luckily in that folder there were just scans from BW negatives. And it happen also happen to a friend who is really carefull and if it happen to him, it can surely happen to you too.

    Well, I don’t want to discuss about media to store your pictures. Medias are changing every five years so it’s worthless to argue what is better.


    28 December, 2006 at 22:53

  6. Here is another comment I’ve recieved on my email:

    Res mislis, da je tako zelo pomembno kaksna imena imajo datoteke? Osebno
    sicer imam narejen osnoven sistem oznacevanja po imenih, vendar pa mi vec
    kot kategorijo oz. sub kategorijo, kam dolocena slika spada ne pove. Vsaj
    jaz mislim, da je pri danasnjih kolicinah edina prava pot IPTC in pa
    neko orodje, ki zna iskat po IPTC-ju. Tudi za arhivirane slike dodam
    v IPTC polje, ki mi pove na katerem dvd-ju slika je….


    28 December, 2006 at 22:57

  7. Well of course you’re right that IPTC is the name of the game and I’ll write more about it. Conserning the names of files I look at it like this. This is the most obvious information. You don’t need any special programme or special skills to read it. And you don’t need to use the name of the file for some information, but I think it’s very good to use it.

    That matters a lot especially if also somebody unconsecrated have an access to your holly photo-archive. Like my wife. She is used that I call her telling her to send me HIres picture.



    28 December, 2006 at 23:11

  8. canon mi ima eno dobro stvar, da prenasa slikce iz aparata na disk v mapo, ki je oznacena leto_mesec_dan jaz tej mapici s pomisljajem dodam se vsebino, recimo 2006_12_31 – Novo leto (Ukrajina).

    sicer pa imajo slice oznake (na prvem aparatu) img_stevilkaposnetka.jpg drugi pa mp_stev-posnetka.jpg

    vse to potem zapecem na dva dvd-ja – ki dobita tudi svoj “print screen ovitek”, eden gre v arhiv, drugi pa med druge dvd-je. menda je treba te dvd-je v roku 5ih let posneti ponovno, zaradi varnosti..

    lp iz ukrajinske meje (p.s. za olkija – tu ima ogromno stevilo strojanov – zaenkrat so miroljubni)


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