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  • mfeenstra


Bijgewerkt op: 21 jul. 2022

I tried and tested many different methods of organizing and backing up my photography files.

Hereby I am sharing my photography file system workflow, this is the easiest, fastest and best way to handle files in my opinion. (I am not teaching how to use Lightroom, only showing my best practices).

Countless hours were spent and sometimes days to find information on some of these subjects, and I noticed many times it was an accumulation of loads of information and way too much fluff around it. I will just share my conclusions here, not tiring you with too much information.


Lightroom is hands down the best software to organize your files. You can keep your files on different hard drives, Lightroom will remember where everything is, as long as you make sure to move files and rename folders inside of Lightroom.

You can make multiple catalogues in Lightroom, but I only work with 1 Catalogue. I tried to use multiple ones, but there really is no reason for it, it will only confuse you more.

I always import and name and save my files in the folder structure by

  1. year (2020)

  2. month (2020-05)

  3. day of the month (2020-05-21)

Since each photo will have this info, you can have Lightroom automatically import all your files in that folder structure.

I color code my folders with information telling me where I am in my Lightroom workflow.

I currently only use 3 of the colors;

No color: files are only added to Lightroom, nothing was done to them yet

Green: all tags were added - step 1 in my workflow

Blue: file selection was done - step 2 in my workflow

Red: contains files I still need to back-up/upload to cloud - step 3 in my workflow

Sometimes I use the other colors to reming me of a current project that needs attention


I always start selecting my images with the last image in the folder, working my way back to the beginning. The reason I start at the end is because when I am out in the field doing a shoot, I correct myself during the shoot and I stop at my best picture (usually). This way you select one that you like and many times the ones that were taken before are not better. This will save you going back and forth between i

I use the flags for the first rough selection, yes, no, delete

Be careful with deleting permanently because what you like today is not what you will like in a few years time, I speak from experience

Once I have my rough selection I go through it again and mark them with stars;

5 stars for - I really still like this one 10 minutes later

4 stars for - will probably never use, but if I need it for a series it might work

3 stars for - why did I pick this one in the first place, will keep to understand my own action later

0 stars for - not so great after all, take the flag off

I do not use 1 and 2 stars

Once I start editing images I use the colors for images to make quick selections and see them together by filtering on this color. Each shoot will have different reasoning why, so there is no real logic behind that one (yet).

TAGS - Keep it simple

I used to remember the dates when I took the images, but my picture database is getting so large that I now use very simple tags to all my images, which helps me find them quickly. Too many tags will not help you find things quicker, trust me, I tried.

If you are looking for an image later, you will usually remember where it was taken, what sort of image you are looking for or who was in it. Besides the date you always have in your folder structure.

I organize my tags as;




In the tags section of Lightroom I created 3 main folders for it, inside these folders I use a hierarchy, for example; WHERE/USA/New York/Brooklyn Bridge or WHAT/Macro Photography/flowers

By doing it this way you can very quickly add tags by clicking on the ones you already created in the hierarchy.

If you are looking for a certain image, you can quickly find a whole lot of images, for example Macro Photography/Flowers will seemingly bring back a lot of results, but by being able to see them all together you will be able to quickly find that one you were looking for.


I always keep 3 copies of each file

  1. on the hard drive

  2. on a second hard drive as a carbon copy using Intego back-up assistant

  3. in the cloud (Dropbox business account with unlimited storage)

I have a separate hard drive for each year, backing up each drive weekly and adding a 3rd copy to a cloud service for additional safety, either weekly or monthly


I have been using Dropbox for 5 years now to keep my Lightroom Master files giving me the possibility to work on the same catalogue from 2 different computers. The only thing you need to be aware of is to not open Lightroom on those 2 computers at the same time, since it will create a copy saying it's in conflict.

I have the Desktop version of Dropbox downloaded on both computers, this means the actual file is on your hard drive and a copy is being saved in the Dropbox Cloud.

Adobe has been trying to solve this with their CC versions, but that is still not working properly and requires too much alertness to not make mistakes.

When I use my laptop, I just bring the hard drive for the year I want to work on. I make sure the latest Master Catalogue is downloaded from Dropbox (takes a few minutes) and open it there.


This concludes my little write-up about my photography workflow.

  1. If you are just starting out, do not look any further and do it this way.

  2. If you have done it differently all these years, consider switching

  3. If you totally disagree with me, please let me know, I would love to have a conversation about it.👇

  4. If you agree with me and have other tips to perfect this system, please reach out!👇

THANK YOU 🙏🏻 for reading my blog and follow me on social media channels for a little support, I would appreciate it!

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