For this post, I thought I'd talk about my file hierarchy & keeping digital images organized.
First of all, I edit all my photos via a Lightroom catalog stored on an external hard drive as RAW files. Each January (or sometimes late-December) I buy a new external hard drive from Costco -because they are usually on sale around that time. I try to buy one that is between 1 and 2 terabytes. Since I don't do a ton of client work that is usually plenty for me to store all my photos for the year. I know one could justify getting one bigger because you could get more bang for your buck so-to-speak, but I don't need more than that and I like to start fresh each year so it works for me.
Lightroom makes it really straightforward to organize photos in catalogs. It is chronological by date. I don't mess with that, but I also make use of their keyword tags to make things easier to find. If I need to go back and find a RAW image from September 2014, I grab that hard drive and find it easily.
I also store all my images (the good ones, at least) online through a cloud service. I have used my cloud service since 2009 and between my business and personal photos, there are a lot of photos. Organizing them is important if I want to be able to find specific images at some later date.
Before I explain my file hierarchy, I want to point out one important thing: At this point it is important to be selective about how many photos you keep track of. The more picky you are, the easier organizing your photos will be which will make it easier to find the ones you need later.
Within my cloud storage, I can have categories, sub-categories, and galleries within those categories and sub-categories.
For my professional images, I maintain categories for each type of photography I do. i.e. family, wedding, dance, product photos, etc. Within my business categories, I have galleries named after each client. Simple enough, right?
I also have a Personal category which I use for my own family photos (my husband and I plus our kiddos), one category for family history photos (photos of my ancestors and family from before I was born), and one for my iphone photos and videos. Within my Personal category, I have a sub-category for each year and within each year, I have galleries for different activities/events within the year (vacations, holidays, professional family photo sessions, etc.). I also have within my Personal category a sub-category for each of my girls and within their individual sub-category I keep a gallery for each year of their life.
The cloud system I use also allows me to "collect" images so that they can be accessed from two different galleries which is really helpful if, for example; I want to have a Halloween photo of my younger daughter in my Halloween 2016 gallery as well as her individual gallery for the year. Does that make sense?
My system isn't totally perfect, but it makes things really easy for me to find images that I want. Because I have a photography business and work with a large quantity of photos all the time, it is essential for me to keep up on this. Your average person might not need to put quite as much effort as I do in order to effectively maintain order, but it is worth thinking about. I just really recommend having some sort of system in place for organizing important images. Please consider subscribing to a good online photo storage service. It is worth the cost. Actually, do you have Amazon Prime subscription? Did you know that cloud photo storage comes complimentary with each subscription? I just learned about it. Awesome, right? They even store RAW files which is totally cool. Look into it. Protect those images.
What do you think? Do you already keep your photos organized fairly well? Or do you need an overhaul?