When it comes to the sexy side of photography, importing and sorting your raw material is most certainly not up there at the top of the list. Using flashy lenses, planning your next photographic adventure, editing your images and taking them from RAW to award-winning art pieces is where the allure really comes in. In today’s tutorial, however, I wanted to tackle the more humble (but equally important) side of the process and address a question that I get asked a lot when sitting with guests in the Londolozi Photographic studio: What’s your process when it comes to importing and sorting your photographs?
Now, this is the part where you need to understand that importing and sorting photographs has everything to do with how each person thinks and catalogues information individually. There is absolutely no right or wrong way to do this.
When I get asked my opinion on this subject, I always default to saying that the way you begin to sort and catalogue on importing your photos depends entirely on how you will need to look for them at a later stage.
What I mean by this is that if you are the type of person (let’s say you were similar to me) who recalls specific shots by remembering what holiday they were taken on, who you were with at the time, and the quality of the light in the photo, you would search for the shot by looking at your folders during the year of the holiday and use keywords like “stormy-black sky over Londolozi landscape on my first afternoon, Christmas 2017“. This keyword is a mouthful by anyone’s standards but, stay with me…
Knowing how your brain might need to search for something later should then inform the way that you input your data to begin with – it’s kind of a ‘help you to help yourself’ process. If you know you’re going to search for something in a particular way at the end, why not code the images that way to begin with?
So, without digressing too much, I wanted to break down the process into 10 easy steps, and walk you through my own thought process in case it was helpful as a start to anyone who needs a little guidance on the matter.
There’s a reason this is step one (and I can’t stress this point enough): Invest in a good quality, decent sized hard drive and make it a habit to pack that in your camera bag so that it is available after every shoot. This should become second nature – just as packing a second battery or memory card should be. Get into the habit of quickly opening up your laptop or computer, plugging in your hard drive and dumping all of your RAW images from that day or photographic outing into a named folder (see below for how I structure my library of images). Once this is done, you can carry on – safe in the knowledge that your images are backed up, and ready to go through when you sit down to edit.
- Shift + TAB – collapses all panels and leaves you with the image in loup view
While I know that importing and sorting photographs can seem like an absolute chore, I can’t stress enough how important it is to get into the right habits early on, in order to make your post-processing life that much easier. Your future self will thank your current self… I promise!
If you have any extra tips or tricks, please let me know in the comments below… I would love to hear them!