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How to File and Retrieve your Photos
2006 KenRockwell.com

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This is easy. I use no fancy software, except iView which I use to see what I've got. I don't piddle adding keywords to images.


I put my photos my Pictures folder. This folder is ready and waiting for you in every Mac. Windows computers have something similar.

I file everything chronologically.

In my Pictures folder have a folder named for each year, for instance, "2006."

In each year's folder I have a folder for each month, named for the number of the month, like "01." I always use a leading zero, like "01" instead of "1," so they always list in the correct order regardless of the computer on which they are read.

In each month's folder I have a new folder for each day I've shot. I also use leading zeros, like "09" instead of "9." After the date I'll add the subject, like "07 Laguna Beach."

Each time I transfer images from my camera I put them in a new folder named for the subject. I also run that folder through iView to generate big previews so I can scroll through hundreds of images instantly.

Now it's easy to find anything. I use any search function and search for the folder names which hold my images. If I want to find images of Laguna Beach I search for those folders.

I don't bother with categorization software because I'd rather not bother adding keywords to each image. I find the folder and can browse through it quickly to find what I want. I've got a good memory. Even 30 years ago I can remember what sorts of things I shot where. The time saved adding keywords is time gained to make more photos.


I file everything chronologically.

I put all my film in slide or negative pages and put those pages in three-ring binders. I write what's on the film and the dates on each page. I list the date range on the binder and put the binders on the shelf.

I then keep a list in my computer of what I shot when. Personally I use a 17 year old word processor; use whatever you want that can do a search, which is everything. I just list the month and what I shot on what format.

When I want to find something I just search the text file I keep in the computer for what I want. When I find that entry in my text file it's obviously next to the date I entered for those shots. I go to that date in the file, and there it is!

This system works great, even though I shoot many formats in many cameras.

For my 35mm work I have the slides imprinted with the year and month, and then the roll number and the number of the frame (1-36).

Each month I start with roll #1 and write it on the 35mm canister as I load it into the camera. Then I can tell the lab to imprint the roll number when I drop it off for processing.

This way every time I pull out a slide it is uniquely identified so I can put it back again. I number my rolls starting each month, since I shoot about five to twenty rolls of 35mm in a month. Some people prefer to number rolls for the entire year.

Simple enough? It works for me.

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