Photography tip no.01 Photoarchive – Naming your files
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.
Then 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. I 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.
For 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.