How best to organize photos?

What is the best way to import, manage and view photos?

I used to use Lightroom, but switched to Capture One with my Sony. I am now thinking about moving over to Linux and Darktable. That means each time that I have to start from scratch with my images and re-import them.

My collection goes back to the turn of the century and is in various formats and sizes. Before I got heavily into Lightroom, I imported everything into folders: year\month\day-or-shoot (E.g. 2020\03\24-night shoot). I still use this structure to this day, as it is easy to quickly find images I want, regardless of what device I am on and whether my photo management software is available (E.g. on my phone or using a web browser to my NAS or OneDrive).

When I got into shooting raws, I restructured and had the old structure above for the finished results and a separate structure \raws&originals\year\month\day-or-shoot I then copied everything from the above folders into the originals folder and imported everything into Lightroom and later Capture One. I then used the original folder structure for output in JPEG of the processed images in a screen-sized resolution. That meant manageable file sizes and quick loading whilst out and about and the original quality in my management software when I need to retouch a photo, provide a high quality export or for print etc.

Thinking of moving again, I am wondering if the whole set-up I have isn’t too complicated and whether there is a better way. Does anyone have any suggestions, or care to describe their process?

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I don’t want to put words in @Leo’s mouth, but my guess is he would say “let go and let Google Photos”. i.e. store them in it, and use search to find what you want. Unfortunately for me I am unwilling to trust any private data to any cloud, so I can’t follow that advice. For me, I just dump them in a folder and hope magic occurs. Strangely, it never does, and I have a mess. :worried:

The same here. No way I would use Google and I am less and less enamoured by Microsoft and OneDrive… I already have everything on my NAS as data and a backup (different LUNs) and I am considering putting NextCloud on a small server in the network and using that for storage.

Google Photo also doesn’t do RAW (or is very finicky about the formats it accepts). As 90% of my photos are in RAW format, using Google Photo is a non starter, even if I would trust my photos to Google. There were also some problems about RAW not being in the “free” tier. I already have 1TB of OneDrive with Office 365, which is the only reason I use it as a backup medium.

I pretty much use your old structure. Regardless of jpg or raw. Exports are kept in an exports directory within the same structure. Works for me, may not for others. Tagging definitely helps.

I keep all my originals in a file/folder structure similar to yours, backed up to NAS/removable storage/iDrive. Additionally I upload them to iCloud for easy viewing on my devices and sharing with others. If a photo needs editing/printing/etc I’ll source the original.


Back when I had a “proper” camera, I used Photoshop Elements to categorise by location etc. I’ve given up on that and have relied on Google Photos and custom tagging to find what I want.

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I don’t have a recommendation, but I’ll share what I’m doing. I, too, would like a better solution.

My original shots (I don’t shoot RAW so JPEG) go to my NAS folder structure: Photos\Year\Year-Month-day Title_of_album . I don’t have any programs (e.g. Lightroom) to manage this, I just do it by hand.
Then more and more, I bite the bullet and upload to Google. I share the sentiment as @PHolder with not really loving the idea of uploading to Google, but the features are so nice… I enable the compression in Google Photos for unlimited space. I keep the originals for prints, editing, etc.
I have been considering paying for Wasabi cloud storage to backup the originals… but between the cost (because I have none currently) and the lack-of-management tools for my originals, I have not.

I don’t do much editing. I’m a lazy photographer :laughing: I want to change that as well.

For sharing photos, Google Photos is so easy.

If you are interested in DarkTable, it’s also available on Windows (don’t know about Mac) - so you don’t need to switch to Linux just to use it.

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Thanks I was planning to move to Linux and wanted to find a good alternative to Capture One. I have tried Darktable and it is fairly good.

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I use Google Photos. I might create an album and put photos in it but rely on search for most stuff. I also use Dropbox as an extra backup.

I don’t use Google services or if principle… Otherwise a good idea, thanks.