How do you organize your photos?

Да. Если бы были более разноплановые фото - добавился бы уровень “тип фото” - а дальше стандартная схема по датам.

I store and organize my photos in Apple’s Photos app on my Mac + iPhone + iPad. I use the iCloud Photos feature so that all of my photos are also uploaded into iCloud storage as a backup, and are also available on all three devices for convenience.

When I’m traveling internationally, I often bring my iPad but not my Mac. I use a camera adapter doohickey to import from my SD card to the Photos app on the iPad. When I have down time I’ll cull the photos and do some minor editing on the iPad. Later when I’m connected to WiFi (typically not until I’m back home) the photos will automatically upload to iCloud and thus appear on my Mac and iPhone. If I’m not traveling internationally I usually go straight from the SD cards to the Mac.

On the Mac version of Photos I first do a pass at culling, and then run a script to set the title of each photo uniquely (based on a date + counter). Photos does a good job at grouping by date/time intervals, so I don’t worry about that aspect. I initially mark all of the animals & plants with a “needs ID” keyword. I then work out IDs as best I can and apply keywords for taxon levels (unfortunately Photos does not support hierarchical keywords the way Lightroom does, so I have to add separate keywords for “animal”, “reptile”, “lizard”, “skink”, etc.). Photos supports a “description” that’s distinct from the title; for the description I use the format “Common Name (Scientific name)” for taxa with a known common name, or “Scientific name” otherwise.

Once I’ve done a (reasonably) complete job of ID’ing all my latest batch of photos in this way, I then import them into iNaturalist. When corrections and more-specific IDs are made on iNaturalist, I go back and change the descriptions (and keywords if appropriate) in Photos to match. Often I remind myself to do this by emailing myself the URL of the iNaturalist observation page that has modified by original ID.

Photos on iOS doesn’t show the titles, descriptions, or keywords, but it does let you search for titles, descriptions, and keywords that were set on the Mac. I use this often when trying to find a particular photo to show someone when I’ve got my iPhone or iPad with me.


Manually, in Windows file folders for each year.

Long ago I settled on a file naming convention and stuck to it for better or worse. It at least keeps the names consistent and easily parsed into data tables etc. FWIW (Internet jargon) it goes like this:

JDMyyyyrrff_MMdd_Scientifc name and other descriptive key words.jpg
JDM20171887_0616_Caulanthus crassicaulis glaber plants in flower and fruit in habitat.jpg

  • JDM = my initials
  • yyyy = calendar year
  • rrff = sequential number, made from roll number and frame number in my film days, but now just my camera’s sequential number (which I reset each year). I set my annual record this year with 4429 frames, so not pushing this format yet… :wink:
  • MMdd = month and day.

For digital photos of course most of this is already in the EXIF data, but having it in the file names keeps it accessible and sortable without need for special photo management software.

When posting online, I include the unique identifier (the JDM20171887 part) as a tag so everything is easily matched back to the original image in my archives.

And by the way, the iNat web uploader is parsing these file names very nicely, thank you!

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Another Lightroom user here. I let Lightroom handle the importing and sorting of photos in to dated directories. I then tag the photos with general terms, mushrooms, plants, birds etc either on import or afterwards. If all the photos are from an event I put them in a folder under that name and tag the location. For example “Bioblitz at X 2019” or “Y foray 2019”. I can then use smart filters to group all the mushroom pictures together and also have folders by year or location. Never though of grouping them by Genus but that’s a great idea. I then add the Latin species name to the title and any additional comments in the comments section. When I export I rename the files “Title. Comments. By me.jpg”. When importing to iNat the species name is recognized and the comments go into the comments section. The species names are not always correct or the name changes or I never knew the name but I don’t always correct or update them in Lightroom - which is bad. However, I can normally find them again with the information stored in iNat.

In Lightroom I can text search for any species by Latin name or partial name so can pull out all the pictures of that species. All the recent pictures, last 4 years or so have GPS information from the camera or phone so the locations are stored too.

Sometimes I have 300+ images from a DNA sampling project and all the names are recorded in a database. I then use Photomechanic to autocomplete the species name from the voucher number and add general comments, Top, gills, pores, side view, cross section etc with a couple of keystokes. That is a lot faster than trying to type in a lot of names and descriptions into Lighroom and minimizes typos etc.

I also use the iNat lookup plugin for Lightroom. You can start typing a Latin or common name and the plugin will pull down the best options from iNat. It works quite well for single images but I often have multiple pictures of each specimen so the multiple select pictures and paste the name into the the title field is quicker for me.

Also I note that the catalog is about 140k pictures and stored on a remote NAS and I don’t see too many slowdowns.


I’m the same. I upload my photos from my SD card, using Microsoft Office. All I do with my photos is crop and adjust lighting, so that works fine. I don’t take a ton of photos, as my main goal is identification of moths already posted. I’m still on my first SD card, but have been wondering if I should begin organizing at some point. I have a semi-smart phone (an old Blackberry Curve) which does not take great photos. For 2/3 of the year I see the same species (Winnipeg winter), so I’m not in a great rush to take tons of photos. I photograph in the same place daily. I mostly use an EOS T5 Rebel, with an EFS 55-250 mm lens. If I take pictures, I process them every day. I may change methods if I venture further afield or start a light trap.

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Capture One Pro … nothing like it.

I also use Apple’s Photos, like @colinpurrington and @sullivanribbit, and like the former I use the scientific name as the title for the same reason – exported photos have the title. I sometimes put common name in the description field, sometimes other comments, and when uploading photos to Flickr this field is automatically populated. Then keywords/tags are used to add higher taxon levels for better searching, but I also always add my name and the country as a keywords. If I have a new moth photo I know is Larentiinae, I can search for that among the keywords and compare my new one to ones I already have labeled to species. Or if I want to look at all my Arctiinae from Peru I can search those two words. (Except iNaturalist was calling all my uploaded photos from Peru Wild Turkey, so I added that as a keyword only after uploading there.)

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I recently had to do picture research for a major scientific publication here in South Africa and received image contributions from all over. It was shocking to see how many “so called” photographers didn’t use keywords at all and other important metadata pertaining to each image where very skimpy/non existent. In the end, myself and staff members who worked for the organisation who published the work, had to fill in most of the blanks ourselves. I personally feel, if you want to contribute your images (however good or bad) to any project, the least you can do, is to fill in the metadata to the best of your ability. Isn’t it after all YOUR intellectual property? I won’t go into detail how I organise my personal image bank, since it’s probably not the best way of doing it, but I try to keep the file name as short as possible and fill in as much metadata as possible. For this purpose I still use Adobe Bridge CS5.1.


I consider myself a life long learner and observer of the natural world - I just happen to use photography to record my observations. Filling in metadata is a new idea to me. What metadata would you expect as minimum for a project?


Using keywords doesn’t make you photographer, neither the opposite way.
If the project needs additional information and they didn’t provide it, it is the other thing.


This thread isn’t about what defines a “photographer,” if that is even a definable thing. I was just curious as to the methods iNatters use to organize their photos, since we all have the shared interest of documenting nature and sharing our records with others, and I’m sure many of us also like to organize our photos. As @bobmcd said, most iNat users interested in nature and use a camera as a tool to document it, not needing to know much else about the photography side.


I sort them by use (art, nature journal, people-memories), and inside the folders they are by default sorted by date taken. Sometimes I edit them before posting, but not often, and in this case I replace the old photo with the new. Because I take trips places and take photos throughout, sorting by date sorts by place; this makes it easier to upload them into iNat and remember where I got them. There isn’t enough in each trip to do taxonomic sorting, and I want all my nature journalling to be multiple-taxon anyway, so I can see at a glance what’s going on in a place when I look in my photos. But to sort by taxon I use the iNat search feature and then it goes through all my photos, and from all places, which is nice.

I use Windows Photo Gallery. It also will only save about a years worth of photos (400-500 a day from April to October). It also freezes a lot. Since I still use Windows 7 I assume when I get a new computer I will need a new program, so I love this question!

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I use scientific names as files names. I add keywords and captions to the image files and make corrections to GPS locations, currently using the unsupported Picasa. I upload to Flickr and import to iNat following that workflow.

Fantastic @bobmcd – thanks for being open and teachable! Filling in metadata and keywords is very much part and parcel of “organising your photos” in my opinion (even if you don’t regard yourself as a “photographer” - it’s YOUR photos and therefore YOUR responsibility to document them properly). During the project I referred to in my original post, quite a few contributors commented that they will have to go through all their thousands of images to find what we where looking for. If they recorded proper keywords/metadata from the start, the search process would have been só much more productive for them and for us (the end user) who had to work with their images. And because the publication was of a scientific nature, many of the contributors where scientists themselves (most of whom simply don’t adhere to this crucial aspect of recording observations by means of photography). To answer your question – first prize would be to fill in as much metadata as possible. Minimum info: Creator | Creator: e-mail | Description | Keywords | Location | Credit Line | Copyright statement. Not sure about other image organising programmes, but Adobe Bridge lets you create metadata templates so you don’t have to physically type in all this info every time. If you need more guidance/help in this regard, you are welcome to e-mail me and I will help to the best of my ability:

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That just sounds wrong, who told which way of documenting is right or wrong? Photographers are Not scientists, for good photo you don’t need date, time or location. I’m sure we all feel that we save our photos properly doing it the way we do, one or another. Your posts are clearly about science.
And yes, iNat works right like adding keywords, you can search thousands of photos in a moment.


I use iNat to organise my photos :grinning:

Otherwise, they are all just dumped in the folders automatically created by the camera. On the rare occasions I need to go back to a photo to get a high resolution copy I use iNat to find the exact date and time, which makes them easy to discover.


Your minimum info is then for a publisher and about copyright. In that context the information is necessary.

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Good to know this @oswaldkurten. If I ever get into a project such as you mention, I will consider it. I am currently in line with @reuvenm.

I did notice that Nikon’s bundled ViewNX 2 will allow me to select individual and/or multiple thumbnails and allow me to add quite an extensive list of metadata, some of those being from your selection of minimum info. However searching by some of this data is currently obscure to me - I cannot find a search function within the program.

Windows 10 File Explorer will allow me to select individual and/or multiple thumbnails and allow me to add some metadata: Tags, Title, Authors, Comments, Subject. And, I can search by those within File Explorer. Tags that I added using ViewNX2 are searchable on File Explorer but some of the other metadata is not.

I’ll further explore the freeware Adobe Bridge.

We do post a blog so maybe I should consider some attached metadata for that. iNaturalist adds my selected copyright to my images posted there. I retain the high resolution original in both cases if there ever is a copyright dispute.


Sounds like you’re on the right track @bobmcd. By looking at other people’s comments about this subject, it’s clear there are lots of ways to “organise” ones photographs. By no means am I saying my way is the best/right way, but it sure makes a huge difference if one day you find yourself looking for something very specific you recorded years ago. Good luck with your endeavours :raised_hands: