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Image File Organization Part Three

This is the conclusion of a three part article on image file organization. If you haven't yet, take a few minutes to read Part One and Part Two.

To this point you should have an understanding of how to get your images organized in such a way that makes finding them easier. Although the previous method discussed was about organizing personal images the same holds true for client work, with some minor adjustments.

If you are a working professional, many of your private images likely cross over to your paid work. Technically you can claim that you are your own client but let's not confuse things.
There are two basic systems you can utilize to keep track of client work, depending on the type of client and their requirements. The first is a typical client with one of a kind project.

Simple Client

Just like the previous systems discussed, the first level folder is for the owner of the content or the photographer. The next level contains the client's name and phone number as the folder's name. Why a phone number? You can imagine how handy it is having the phone number there until you have to make a call regarding an image and can't remember where you placed your client's number. Trust me, you;ll appreciate the convenience.

From here the structure resembles the Personal structure but without the year folder. A year folder is only suggested if the client does large volume work and not having that segregation would make the directory too long. Otherwise the naming convention is the same as the Personal one, year-month-day followed by the project name (or number) given by the client or a brief description of the job.

Just as previously, you separate the keepers from the seconds and the edits from everything else.

Complex Client

The second variation is for clients who have a complex project system. For example, a catalog project where there are multiple products shot over the span of a couple of months. The project name would be the same but there would be several shooting events.

Another example would be a design firm who hires you to work on several projects for their own clients. The design firm would be your client but their clients would be the firm's projects. Everything else gets sorted out like before, keepers, seconds, edits, etc.

What comes in must go out

Unlike personal work that gets posted to the web or hung on a living room wall, client work takes a different path. The primary destination is back to the client in the form of post processed images (or RAW files if someone else is processing the shots). In any case, there is a certain level of professional discretion required for publishing images. Rather than using a system like that in Part Two, edited images are kept in a sub folder with the project's working files. In that way all images for that particular project will always be contained in one single folder, the Client folder. If you are given permission to share or post images on you own site or a social media site, at that point you will export the the appropriate Portfolio folder. Now that you have seen the various methods of organizing digital images hopefully you will be motivated to get your own files under control. Although I did not discuss backup strategies with these systems, remember that having a reliable back up system is strongly encouraged. If you have another method that fits the criteria of organization and efficiency, please share them in the comment section.


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