I’ve never been someone you’d call “organized,” which is strange considering my Type A(ish) personality. I love BEING organized, but sometimes, it’s just so hard to get there! Having adult ADHD (and growing up in a family where we were ALL diagnosed), it’s just been the norm- my parents’ biggest battle with me growing up was getting me to clean my room (I’m sure my dad will leave a sweet sentiment regarding this ongoing war in the comments section). And now that Matt & I have a home of our own, it’s still my biggest struggle, except this time it’s an entire house instead of one bedroom :).
That’s not to say I don’t desire organization- I LOVE, really love the feeling of a clear desk, a tidy living room and squeaky-clean kitchen. Nothing puts me at more peace than having my living space organized. But again, it’s GETTING there that’s the problem. And that’s another thing about ADHD- I’ll look at a room, get completely overwhelmed (no matter how small the mess is), and instead of just digging in, I’ll forego it completely. It’s an incredibly frustrating cycle! During my first year of shooting weddings on my own, I encountered this issue when it came to file storage and organization. Fortunately for me, my wedding photographer/mentor/friend came over for an afternoon of shooting, tomato soup, and business help, and one of the things she taught me was the importance of CONSISTENT file naming. Prior to her help, I was naming folders in a different way every time I uploaded new images, which made organizing and accessing my archives an utter nightmare.
These days, I have a method for naming everything! From files to hard drives to PASS galleries, I never have to wonder what I named an event when I’m trying to access my old files, which makes locating them a breeze. Let’s start big and then get smaller:
When I create a folder for a new wedding/session and import the RAW images, the folder will stay in the same location as the 2013 and 2014 folders- once the images from a wedding have been completely edited, PASSed and delivered, then and only then are they moved into the “2013 > Weddings” folder. It helps keep me up to date on anything that has yet to be completed.
So this is what my hard drive would look like prior to me completing the Smalley Wedding-
Now. Let’s talk about file naming.
Within every folder, I break it down again. I do this as SOON as I upload the images after a wedding so that I don’t have to worry about it later. Let’s use Ware & Liz’s wedding as an example. Immediately upon creating the “SmalleyWedding” folder on my hard drive, I then insert four more subfolders:
The “Favs” folder is just for any images that really pop out at me as I’m editing, so if I wanted to share a quick photo to Facebook before the blog post, that’s where it goes. The “Favs” folder usually ends up getting deleted after all is said and done because all of the final images are in the “Finals” folder, so “Favs” is just redundant.
Now. One more breakdown. I also divide up the “Finals” folder to make finding particular images within a wedding day easier. Here’s my group of subfolders within “Finals”:
I know it may seem like a lot of extra work to export the batch of images and THEN have to separate them into different folders in Bridge, but again: the goal is to make locating images later a breeze for me AND my clients. And actually, the images that go into my “1-Favorites” folder are selected during the editing process in LightRoom- I just rate those particular images with 5 stars, so when I’m done editing, I export the 5 starred images FIRST, and then the rest of them afterwards. Sorting the rest of the images in Bridge literally takes less than 5 minutes.
Phew! That was really long. But hopefully it was helpful! As always, if you have any questions, sound off in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer them!