Feb 21, 2013

Never Lose a File Again

Bakster is back! Today we teach you how to set up a Workflow and file organization system using Adobe Lightroom.

Make Your System Foolproof

A big part of taking photos is making sure you can find the photos after you take them! If you stay organized and follow a set Workflow, finding files on your computer will be much easier. Sometimes you may need to find a photo taken months, even years ago, so it’s important to know where you have it stored.

Selects ? Master ? Output

Once you have your images imported, go through them and flag your favorites. By putting all of your picks together in the same “Selects” folder, you can pick and choose from your best photos to decide which ones to edit. PSD files and images currently being worked on go in your “Master” folder, while finished photos saved for Web are stored in “Output”. This is the same system we use here at Phlearn, and it guarantees images will not be misplaced.

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    • user image

      When exporting images to the web, the quality difference between 60 and full is indiscernible to the naked eye (mainly because it is displayed on a monitor with its own limitations). However, the difference in file size, and therefore load times, is tremendous.

      Similarly, commercial printers will tell you to set your jpg quality to 10 rather than 12 because the difference is unnoticeable, but the files are much smaller to transfer. There is also a debate over whether setting a printed image at 300ppi gives any benefit over 250ppi for the same reason.

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    Emma Brabrook

    When it comes to making a preset to export for web, and you saved it to have a width of 1000px, is that always going to be applied to the longest edge or always along the x axis? I tried this with a Photoshop action once and had to create two – one for portrait and one for landscape.

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    Making these folders is a bit foolish. You can easily locate any of these in a master folder using keywords. You can also so simply send to CS using right click. By using keywords and color tags, you can find anything without doing all this micromanagement. I have a color tag “To Be Edited”, one for “Complete” one for “Published”, one for “Review”, etc. Its easy using the filters to find baxter head shot with to be edited color tag. Piece of cake. No need for micromanagement. What is the advantage to doing all this micromanagement of folders opposed to keyword/labels?

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      Phlearn. com

      Keywords are definitely great, and make searching easy. The advantage to using this system over labels is that it doesn’t rely on any program to work. We have multiple people accessing these files from multiple computers with many programs. We can easily find images using Lightroom, Bridge, Photoshop, Final Cut, Finder, PCs, iPads, Facebook uploader etc.

      Also in the commercial photography world these folders are natural separations. If we have 2000 images from a photoshoot, we move the “select” images to a folder that is given to the client for review and approval, use the “master” folder for working files, and “output” is then given to the client as the final product, sized and profiled for it’s intended use.

      The most important thing is to have a system that works for you. Being organized is what’s important.

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    Carrie Tucci

    Thank you Aaron. this was very helpful. One more question: you saved everything locally, but in a collaborative environment would you be on a network? If so, are there performance impacts when editing (LR and PS)? I’ve been meaning to put everything on my network, but haven’t tried.

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    Brian Carlson

    Another great resources for DAM (digital asset management) is “The DAM Book” by Peter Krogh. It’s the most comprehensive book on file management for photographers. I use it and I sleep soundly at night. It’s a ton of work to get going on the front end but easy to maintain.

    On a side not, I personally use Media Pro by Capture One. It’s a cataloging software that works amazingly.

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    Why so complicated structure? I use this structure for every project: RAW (original files), PSD (working files), JPEG (output). Duplicating selected files will overfill HDD.

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    Morten Josephson

    Very nice workflow. One question, i am working on a macbook pro with ssd. If i import everything to an external hard drive (usb connection), do i loose speed when i work/edit in photoshop and lightroom.

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    Marcus Fulton

    FInally my continued education regarding photo file organization. I have techno fear at times in regards to the nightmare that soon becomes my hard drive. Sometime I even get discouraged when shooting subconsciously knowing I’m going to be pulling my hair out later due to my inability to organize. THanks for the tips and tricks as always!

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    Grant Young

    Thank you very much for this! Very easy to use, get comfy with, and find files when you need them. Excellent flow!

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    Macxs Oppici

    To save disk space, you can use virtual copy for the selected images folder. Useful for those of you that use only Lightroom, not useful for you in Phlearn because like the flagged images, a virtual copy can be managed only inside Lightroom.

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    Jeff Kennedy

    Is this method used instead of creating collections? I organize using collections. Trying to figure out which way is best or if there’s a place for both.

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    I have cried my eyes out all day. In an etemt to get organized I put all my images in a external hard drive and created a huge frustrating mess! Thank you so much for this video <3 Taking notes like a crazy person. I have never been a fan of collections and virtual copies! this method is so easy and mess free.. Thank you for bean my knight in shining armor. Love from Rose in Norway <3

  • user image

    I originally seen your other tutorial on this. It has 4 folders.
    This tutorial use’s 3 folders. The Capture folder is not mentioned.
    This makes more sense to me. As I could not see the difference between the Capture folder and the main folder.