File Naming for Travel Photography

September 24, 2023

Kaindy Lake, KazakhstanKaindy Lake, Kazakhstan

Kaindy Lake, Kazakhstan
Fujifilm X-H2, XF56mmF1.2 R WR, f11 @ 1/12 second, ISO 125

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of digital photography is the way our photographs are named – a faceless, emotionless, camera-generated filename which increments numerically, so that one filename looks much the same as another.

Most photographers rename important photographs to something more recognisable and meaningful. Many photographers rename all their files as part of the import process – as the files are transferred from your memory card to your computer, the photos are given a new file name.

For travel photography, what name do you use? You can be in one location for a few days, or at several locations in a single day. As you ingest your photos, you can ingest all the images together with one filename, ingest your photos location by location, or subject by subject with different filenames, or rename groups of photographs afterwards. There's no right or wrong way, but for me, I like things to be simple.

My approach is based on my overall filing system. I don't use Lightroom to create an overall catalogue of all my images – I'm too lazy to apply keywords etc. Rather I rely on my memory – and perhaps that will be a problem in the future!

Each year, I have a folder. Inside that folder are three folders – Jobs, Work and Projects. The Jobs folder holds all my raw files – and only the raw files. Inside the Jobs folder, I have a sub-folder for every 'job'. So, if I photograph the family gathering at Easter, that's a job. If I visit Kazakhstan, that's another job. The Kazakhstan folder will be named 230919-Kazakhstan.

Inside these job folders, there might be no need for sub-folders (the family at Easter), but for travel locations, I create one or two folders for each day. For instance, when in Kazakhstan, we visited the Assy Plateau, so I created a folder 230924-AssyPlateau. Then, when transferring the images into that folder, I renamed them Assy-0001, Assy-0002 etc. The numbers increment. The file name is more meaningful – for me.

In fact, for a travel job, I increment the file number for the entire trip, so the files I imported were actually Assy-1755, Assy-1756 – because I had already imported 1754 photos from earlier days on the same trip.

If this makes sense, use it! If not, look around for other options that make sense to you - so you don't end up with folders and folders or meaningless filenames.

 


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