You gotta be fast

Get assignment. Take the photos.  Process them.  Publish them.  Write cutlines.  Send off to editors.  Archive files.  

The past couple months have been a test of my skill and organization.  In addition to working at the GRCC Collegiate as the photo editor, I have been working with SiTE:LAB project at Morton House.  Both jobs require me to have lightening fast turn around, publishing, and archiving.  

I cannot comprehend how any professional photographer (or creative for that matter) could survive without a rock solid system.  Jonathon Russell, Grand Rapids photo legend and former professor at GRCC, always reminded us how important it is to have a system.  Have a system for organization and a standard for how you present your work.  

I could go on a rant about this, but I'll refrain from doing that.  I cannot show you documentary photographs from Morton House until after ArtPrize. However, you can see my photographs in various articles – click here.

If you are thinking about getting into photography and are unorganized, you might be able to get through college without a system.  Here's mine if you're looking for a start:

Jon's Archiving Method

Folder Naming: 

Year.Month.Day – Title of event

ex., 2014.9.6 – Grand Rapids Balloon Festival

Why is it so important to have the title like that?  When cataloguing, it makes it easier to sort through, especially if you export the folder and are moving it about in Finder (Windows Explorer for PCs).  All you have to do is "Sort by Name" and it will place your folders in chronological order.

Individual File Naming

 Shortened event name 001

ex., GR_Balloon_Festival_001

Some websites are finicky about file names containing spaces (e.g., Wordpress).  Using underscores (or dashes) makes it fairly easy to read in your Finder while preventing this problem.  

I use "Batch Rename" in Adobe Bridge to change file names.  Other programs like Google Picasa only allow you to rename files while exporting photos which can be a bummer if you have to find a RAW files for a JPEG.  


Yeah, tagging.  It's a living hell to tag photos AFTER you export them, because then you don't have tags on the RAW files.  At the very least, tag your select shots.  Don't tag the photos on your computer up the wazoo or else it will be a lamented chore that you never do.  Make it worth while.  I generally tag people and specific locations (in addition to cities if cities are relevant).  As you might be photographing things completely different from me, you'll have to come up with useful tags.  Create a core set of tags in Bridge, Picasa, or whatever program you use and use it to batch add tags.  

The longer you use tags, the more cluttered tag banks can become.  Make sure to keep your core tags separate from one time use tags.  Use tag folders as much as possible.

Multiple Photographers

When collaborating, it can become incredibly difficult to differentiate who shot what from a glance when you are dumping large quantities of files to a common place before anyone even edits (this happens at events).  Just about any SLR and most cameras above $200 will let you change the file naming.  I have my D800 save files automatically to _JDL0000.  Using your initials can make it easy to spot your photos out of a group, especially when all the photos might be arranged by date and time, mixing shots from different photographers.

Even if you rarely shoot with other photographers, it's a wise idea to make your filename different than factory defaults.