Photo Organization: How To Name Your Image Files

image file naming schemeWhen you are just starting to shoot weddings, you may not realize the importance of having a good image numbering system. However, after a couple years (and thousands of images later) You'll realize the need to organize your images and use a solid photo numbering system.

Let's say you want to organize images for a new website-how are you going to do that if you choose several images that are named 37 or 322? It's not going to work-I can tell you that from experience. You need to have a good way to organize and file name your images so that you can always reference certain details from the image just by reading the file name.

Here's the breakdown:

DATE – First, we add the date to each image, which is very helpful in understanding what wedding it came from. Start with the year first, then month, then day, so that the images will sort themselves according to the date taken.

COUPLE'S INITIALS – After the date, we then add 2 initials for the bride and groom. Some studios simply use the bride's first and last initial, but since we typically “think” of our clients by their first names, this is how we do it. For portraits, we just use the client's first and last initials.

IMAGE NUMBER – After the initials, we then number the images 0001 to whatever the edit comes out to be. By keeping it to a four number sequence, we give ourselves a little cushion for the very rare occasion an event's final edit goes over 1,000.

PHOTOGRAPHER – The final part of our image numbering scheme is a letter that indicates to us the photographer. Besides Geoff and I, we work with a team of second shooters and also have other lead photographers. Having the ability to know which photographer took an image means nothing to the client, but it allows us to study our own work, see improvements, and understand our own styles. In terms of second shooters, I often look back at the final edit to see how many of the second shooter's images made the cut. Plus if a client wants to see the portfolio of a second shooter, its easy to pull together recent work.

How do you name your system?  Share your image organization ideas in the comments below.


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