I started to learn about photography after moving to Taipei. That was end of 2010. When I arrived here, supposedly for a one year job, I decided to buy a camera to capture all the places I was about to explore and write about, and the daily life of the country that would become my home for, supposedly, one year.
At that moment I decided to buy an entry model, concretely a Canon 500D pack, including two lenses. I started taking photographies here and there, taking my camera on my weekend excursions around the city or during some trips in Asia. At that moment, I was more focused on playing and experimenting with the camera than to take some time to read manuals, blogs and books about photography. Great mistake. One of the biggest consequences is that I didn’t take a single RAW shot for a long time. This was also caused for the lack of any processing capability after taking the pictures. I usually took the pictures in JPEG, copy them to my tiny netbook (which could not resist a heavy editing tool at all) and backed them up to a hard drive.
After a frenetical first year, I found a new job and could extend my stage in Taiwan. At that moment started to take things in a more relaxed manner, and I progressively started reading more and more about photography, specially books and blogs. Still took me a while to really switch to shoot in RAW. During these years I have shoot tons of photographies, and now I find I have lots of them only on JPEG. Eventually I decided to start shooting in RAW with the hope of getting a decent computer where I could process the RAW files properly. Until that moment I would keep them stored and I would still work with the generated JPEG. The storage method was basically copy all those pictures (both RAW and JPEG) into folders ordered by date and location.
Some months ago I got a new laptop which is powerful enough to start editing my pictures, so I decided to put some order to everything I had stored before. First of all I ordered all my previous photography. I moved all my photographies to an external hard drive and ordered them in folders. I decided to follow this pattern to keep the folders ordered by date:
“YYYY-MM-DD Folder title / Location”
I backed up all my photographies in an external hard drive. I am considering getting a second one just in case the first one fails. I currently use a 2 TB Western Digital MyPassport. It is small, very fast and light to carry.
From there, I started importing all my photographies into Lightroom, folder by folder. This process took me a while. As I imported all the photographies I added the tags to them in batch, so I could easily look for concrete pictures by topic, or location. This is in fact an extremely useful habit. I originally didn’t do it, so I had to do it all at once. Now I strictly follow this routine, to avoid having to do it for several albums in the future, and to help me to easily find the pictures I want by topic.
When I imported the pictures into Lightroom, I did not classify them into folders or collections at first. As all of them are tagged, I will be able to create collections or smart collections with the different filters offered by the application as I need.
To sum up, this is the process I followed to put some order all my shots until the date:
1. Group the pictures into folders, by date or topic.
2. Name the folder according to this pattern to help me to know quickly the content of the folder: “YYYY-MM-DD Folder title / Location” and have the folders ordered chronologically.
3. Back up all the photographies in an external hard drive.
4. Import them into Lightroom, folder by folder.
5. Add tags to the photographies. At first, add them in batch, per folder.
6. Create smarts collections with the picture organisation I need.
7. Back up Lightroom catalog regularly.
It took me a while the first time, but from that moment on I repeat these steps every time I take pictures and download them into my computer.
Did you find yourself in a similar situation? Which way do you organise all your photography?