how do you store your images?

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how do you store your images?

Post by vkfoto »

Up til now, all images I have in PSU were made by me so the date of the image is known: year-month-day. And that is how I've been storing them on my hard-drive in folders in a year / month / day hierarchy.

With a known date, labels help classify the images by people, location, event, etc.

Now I've been scanning a ton of old family prints. perhaps half have the year written on the back, some have the month and a rare few have the day. For most it's a guess and often a poor one as to when the picture was made. Some times the description provides a clue, other times something in the image hints at a date.

Rather than assigning a possible false date and storing it that way, I was wondering how others do it? The scan date would be meaningless. With often multiple people in the image, that wouldn't be a good way either. Perhaps by location? What to do if no location is obvious. With a good set of labels, finding them should not be an issue later but instead of a date centric storage paradigm with a huge "other" folder for all of the unknown dates, is there a better way?
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by bimo »

IMO the main problem is the date as part of the filename; years ago I changed to a very different approach which fulfills all my needs:


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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by snowman1 »

Excellent question.

I'll have this problem too at some point - I keep putting it off because I haven't completely processed all my own digital pictures yet, ingested but not all rated, labelled etc!

I think the only solution will be to label them by source - where/whom they came from - and "set" within that - where "set" is an identifiable bunch of images, e.g. all the ones in a particular photo album, etc. Loose ones can be their own set. So something like "Smith_Fred _Album06" if the photos were passed on to me from my uncle Fred Smith and I have labelled the physical albums by number to identify them - arbitrarily if I can't assign a squence - in fact may be I should use colours or some other words rather than numbers to avoid implying any sequence.

Dates and people can then be assigned within PSU, which is what it's for :D (you've probably seen the other threads discussing partial dates).

I don't see any reason why this couldn't live alongside my existing date-bated system, perhaps under a separate blanket folder for images sourced from elsewhere (or my own pre-digital ones come to that).

I'll be very interested to see what solutions other people use.
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by Mke »

I have similar problems!

In terms of file name, I basically follow my regular structure:


In practice, that means I have photos labelled as unknown_c1890_scan_0001, or unknown_1901mmdd_scan_0001_front

If there is writing on the back of the image, I normally scan the front and back (as well as transcribing the text / tagging the people & labeling), which is why some have _front or _back at the end of the file name. Scanned images are also labeled as 'scanned from transparency' or 'scanned from print'

I also continue to follow my basic file structure, but subdivided into centuries, half centuries, decades and rough dates. For example:


which gives me flexibility to place images in any of those folders, depending on how much of the date is known. Of course since the date is in the file name, filing by date is technically redundant, but I find it quick and useful.
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by vkfoto »

I thought of using decades and centuries but that still presupposes I know more about the dates than a wild guess.

At this point I'm leaning towards a modified album set type of storage. While many are from identifiable albums, a lot are in photo envelopes while many are in various bundles with no identification. Not everyone was meticulous in helping later generations classify their precious images.

So I'll probably end up with scan1 [album if applicable] , scan2 etc. as top level folders. Within each folder, those with known dates will be collected by date while the rest go into a "misc" sub folder with just a scan number or a short identifying title. Then as I discover new information, appropriate labels will be applied.

This way, a quick glance will distinguish my own images from those that were scanned, plus, for those that were in albums, that information will not be lost.
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by HaraldE »


To me this touch on three related areas:
1/ Where to store the images
2/ Name of an image
3/ Date of the image, that is date when the photo was taken

1/ Storing:
My folder structure is one way up till 2000 and another after, mainly due to the fact that I started using a digital camera early in 2000
Before 2000 the folder structure is as follow
Year / Location / Event
for example "1985 / London / Visit"

and after 2000 it is similar but there is a Month level added, as follow
Year / Month / Location / Event
for example "2005 / August / VM25 / Animals"

2/ Name of an image
In my world it can be anything but is usually related to the what I am scanning from.
For example all images from a red and white album may be given the name RedWhitennn, where "nnn" is a serial number

3/ The date when a photo was taken
I have a lot of old scanned photos where I am uncertain about the date but I can always guess on a year. For these I have decide to use an invented date, which is April 27. If I am guessing on the year and am wrong nobody will be able to say so.

If I have an old photo which I guess is from 1918, then I give it the date of 27 April 1918. Quite often I can see from the photo things that makes me go for another date. So when I see snow I may use 27 December instead of 27 April. And with a small child and a birthday cake I go for a more specific date (assuming I know the birth day)

This works ok for me as long as the date is not specifically 27 April. When I see the date is 27 April at least I know the date is unknown.

Regards, Harald
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by Jesperben »

I have 25.000-30.000 files, mostly old photos from my family, so I can follow your worries. It's a big job to date the pictures, but I find it important and do it as good as I can. My folders are century-year-month. If I am not certain of the exact date in a month, I use 01, if I don't know the month, I use 01-01, if i dont know the year I use fx. 01-01-1950 to assign it to a century.

Often it is hard to tell the year, but I find that the image has much more value if it's placed a year or two too early or too late, rather than placed far away in the structure.

Maybe my mind is not flexible enough, but I can't think of other folder structures to use for these kinds of historic pictures.

Of course, with good labelling in PS you have a lot of other possibilities when you want to find or display your pictures. In fact, using PS makes folder structure and naming convention much less important. (Especially if you know the names of the persons on all the old pictures :( )

Good luck!
Trying to get a lot of old pictures out to the family
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Re: how do you store your images?

Post by siehorst »

thousands of my old negatives and slides I gave to a professional scan service. the files have been named in the way: my name plus a rising number.
What to do?
I decided to let the filename as is and to edit labels and description as far as I know.
My nowadays filenaming by date and time is not possilble in a sufficient way. Filename true or not specific is my decission.
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Joined: 02 Jul 11 7:07
Location: Odense, Denmark

Re: how do you store your images?

Post by Jesperben »

My situation is exactly the same. I have chosen not to edit the filenames. - 1. because it's a big task, 2. because the filename has some information (I can follow the file back to it's origin, scanning-time and negative-roll.
Trying to get a lot of old pictures out to the family
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