Finding my images

We have finished decorating the study in our house, and my wife is looking for a collection of landscape format prints to group in a series of four on one of the walls. The problem is, which images to choose?

All of my images are held in Lightroom databases. Each year I start a new Lightroom catalogue for that particular year on a new mobile hard drive. All Lightroom settings, presets and folders for that year on held on that disk. Images are placed in dated folders as they are downloaded from the camera together that are also labelled with the location. This year, for instance, I have 82 individual folders or ‘shoots’, and in those folders are all of the images taken on those shoots. Now, whilst only a small percentage of those pictures are actually fully processed and realised, it still means a lot of images to trawl through to find ones that are suitable for clients or framing etc. When you then start to look even further back at your back catalogue of images over the years the number of possible images that would be good enough to sell or use becomes even larger. Since I started digital photography in earnest three years ago, I have a collection of 22,000 images. Again, obviously most will never be used, but that is still a lot of pictures to look through.

From every shoot that you do there must be a few, perhaps only two or three, images that you feel are good enough to represent your photography, or that you think other people would be interested in. Once those images have been processed to your satisfaction, you are left with the finished jpg or tiff. To enable you to find those images quickly in the future you could meta tag them in such a way that you could search for them in the Lightroom database and bring them all up on to the screen. However, the way I archive my images means that I can only do that for the current loaded catalogue. As all my images are on separate year-dated drives this would be a time-consuming process in that I would have to mount each drive in turn and look through the images it contains.

So, my idea was this: as each shoot is completed in terms of the best images processed, they are saved into a folder on the hard drive and within the Lightroom catalogue. Within this parent folder two other folders labelled ‘Colour’ and ‘Monochrome’ are created. Within these two folders other folders are made that carry general descriptive labels, such as ‘Landscapes’, ‘Portraits’, ‘Still-Life’, ‘Buildings’,  and ‘Abstracts’. These folders will appear in both the ‘Colour’ and ‘Monochrome’ main folders and should not exceed more than five in number. In them I will put my best processed pictures that will fit broadly within the folder topics.

At the end of the year, I will copy the folder on to the new hard drive and synchronize it with the new Lightroom catalogue and then I will start to add the New Year’s best photographs to it each shoot.

This way, I should be able to find any of my best images quickly no matter what hard drive they were originally contained on.

For those who only use the one catalogue, I do urge you to use meta tags. Even if you tag the relevant images with one word e.g. ‘best’, then putting that word into the Lightroom search engine will pull all the images up labelled thus from the folder you have chosen. Choose a root folder and they will all appear on screen.