What’s Your Image Storage Style?

Is there a difference between hoarding things in your home and hoarding your images in your computer? Please advise.

Don’t deny it…
I know you are out there.
That camera of yours can take hundreds of images…in less than an hour.

And then what?

You know those shows on TV where you see homes filled floor to ceiling with stuff? The ones that you may think to yourself,  “how do they even know what they have and whether they will ever put it to use?”

I have listened to interviews and have met these individuals whose homes are massive archives of things that they collect. They often respond that someday, that one thing could be useful. What if there was a Lightroom® program for all the physical stuff in our lives? You could call out  ‘cardboard paper towel tube’ on that day you decide to get a hamster or make a candle. This could be useful, but in the meantime what does it do to our psyche to live amongst all of this stuff? For some, it makes them feel comfortable and prepared; for others it makes them feel stifled and overwhelmed.

Can this thought be applied to all of our stored photographs as well? Should we save them all and be prepared for when we may need them? Or should we edit as we go and get rid of the mediocrity and/or redundancy in our image collections?

Do you edit your images? If you do not, do you apply keywords to them so that you can find them quickly? Do you have enough power in your machines to manage your images efficiently?

We are a little late to start spring cleaning our image libraries, but there’s no time like the present. For those of you who edit your work, chime in and tell us how you approach editing?

Let’s get this party started! Jump in and share your wisdom and experience.

And finally, a few resources for all styles of editing. It’s great to have your work critiqued by a professional, but don’t discount your own ability to see what is effective in your photographs. If you are interested in learning more about techniques that professionals use to evaluate images (which in turn may teach you how to be more objective towards your own work) you may find this book useful.


And another excellent book to consider adding to your learning library is:


5 thoughts on “What’s Your Image Storage Style?

Profile photo of Mel Mann


Lightroom is my tool of choice for image management. My workflow includes import presets where I apply copyright information, metadata editing where I attached image genre, location, scene, etc. information to the image, and keywords for more specific data about an image. I’m best at this when I do it all right after import, whether hundreds or dozens of images. It’s worse when I forget and have to go back and “fix” images later.

Lightroom’s tools for sorting images based on whether I’ve added information to fields or not is invaluable to filling in the blanks.

My advice to anyone who expects to find a specific image later is to develop a way to catalog/index their files using whatever tool is most comfortable. And to realize that you WILL want to find an image later. But start today!

Profile photo of Marcy James


Thanks Mel! I agree 100%. I also find that adding metadata right after I import images is the best for me. I find that I am still excited enough about the shoot that I don’t mind spending the extra time organizing them. I also like the option in Lightroom where I am able to add keywords (that apply to the entire shoot) inside the import box. This saves a lot of time.
Thanks for chiming in Mel. It’s great to see you on the blog!


A bit complex and very likely over kill, but here goes…

I use Downloader Pro in a Win7 virtual machine on a Mac to copy the files from card to disk, renaming a second copy based on camera body and applying copyright information to both copies. Then back in the Mac proper I use Lightroom to import the renamed files as DNG to a third directory tree, leaving the originals & renamed files as they were.

All three copies are synchronized to a RAID array, which in turn is synchronized to a portable drive and this is synchronized via my laptop to another disk at my work. All of this is done by Chronosync on the Mac’s with scripts set to run at shutdown.

I then use Dropbox to keep my Lightroom database synchronized between my two systems along with the previews and any exported files.

Within LR I apply metadata and grade the images as rejects or acceptable, then grading the acceptable images as candidates or not. Smart collections are used to display the different selection groups.

Whilst this may appear complex it actually runs pretty smoothly and I have 3 copies of each image, on 3 different drives, in a minimum of two locations (home + work + laptop location) and my LR database is backed up online as well as being on two separate systems.

Profile photo of Kathy Eyster

Kathy Eyster

I’ll admit it; I’m an image hoarder! But in my defense, I teach photography at all levels of skill from raw beginner to advanced. So for me there are few photographic “mistakes”; they’re just “teaching examples” of what not to do! 🙂

Seriously, my picture organizing is based on the Bridge (which comes with Photoshop) rather than Lightroom. My photos are saved in a Pictures folder and within that in folders by year (e.g. 2010) and inside that in a folder describing the location or event and the month and year. So images that I made of the university’s homecoming parade last fall are filed like so: Pictures > 2009 > UM Homecoming Parade 10-2009. I use this method because I mostly remember images by where I took them and what the subject or content was. I’m more likely to add location metadata rather than keywords still and that only recently. My images live on 2 external hard drives, one being a backup of another.

My system isn’t perfect, since I started it after I had already been shooting digital photos. I have other folders based on classes I teach or projects I’ve started. I could stand to do some “computer cleaning”.

I always recommend to students that they devise an organization system that works for the ways they search for their photos. A wedding photographer is going to look for pictures of specific families or people; a photojournalist might look for pictures by where and when he took them. Everyone’s different; just use a system that works for you.


Mie Ahmt

uuuuhhhhh I am so guilty! I confess!
My Lightroom Catalogue will always be a work-in-progress and that’s OK. Like a true hoarder I know where everything is in my catalogue.

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