It’s no secret that you absolutely have to make several backups of your work. We’ve heard way too many stories where someone lost years and years of work due to a fire, hard drive malfunction or even having their storage media stolen. Having a good backup isn’t just using a large and reliable hard drive; you have to use a specific folder structure in order to be able to find your stuff down the road. Today, I’ll discuss my particular folder organization for commercial product and still life photography.
First off, what I use is fairly industry standard. It is, for the most part, the same hierarchy that Capture One automatically creates when you make and new session. In the session folder, which I name using the date and the name of the project (YYYYMM_PROJECT NAME), there are four subfolders, Capture, Selects, Trash and Output. By the name of it, all of the shots go to the Capture folder, good or not. I personally do not use at all the Selects folder, I prefer to stay in the Output folder. The Trash folder is where files used by Capture One usually go. The master session folder in placed into a folder for that job’s particular client. A copy of the gig’s invoice is also included in the master session folder.
Finally, the Output folder is where the action happens. In there, I create (most of the time) 3 sub-folder, named Output 1, Output 2 and Output 3. The first of them is where all of the selected shots will be exported. Those can be ready to be worked on in Photoshop (in which case there are only two subfolders) or will constitute a focus stacked image. All of the focus stacks images reside into the Output 2 folder. Those will then be worked on in Photoshop. There can be a few images per shot (with different exposure, colour temperature or parts that will be masked into one final file). When the image is ready to be delivered to the client, it gets saved to the Output 3 folder. As described by this blog post, I export three (or four, depending on the need of the client) different versions of the same image. There is the master PSD file, the high-quality, single-layered TIFF version, the compressed and ready for web use JPEG file and the transparent background PNG shot (which is as web-ready as the JPEG). All of those get their own sub-folder in the Output 3 folder. For example, in the PSDs folder, there should only be one .psd (or .psb) file per product image for that shoot.
This folder structure is not perfect and could most likely be improved upon. However, it works great for me and I can always find the exact file that I'm looking for in a snap.
How do you organize your photographic files? Share it with us in the comments below!