Every professional photographer knows the problem: digital photography quickly accumulates thousands of photos. That’s why a good system for viewing, editing and archiving photos is worth its weight in gold. We’ll give you tips on how to find the perfect organizational structure for you, so that you can still find photos in a flash, even years later.

Choosing the right photo management software

The classic among photo management programs is Adobe Lightroom. Especially for experienced users with high demands, the software is a recommendation due to its wide range of functions. In addition to photo management with convenient sorting and tagging features, it also offers many photo optimization tools. However, Lightroom has competition from CyberLink’s PhotoDirector. The program also convinces with its comprehensive features for photo management and post-processing. With a little training time, the program is also well suited for beginners. However, Photo Manager from MAGIX offers the best price-performance ratio. In addition, the software convinces with its overall package of features, resource-saving performance, user-friendliness, and support.

The best photo management programs at a glance

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • CyberLink PhotoDirector
  • MAGIX Photo Manager
  • Zoner Photo Studio
  • Corel AfterShot Pro

Folder structure and triage

It is a good idea to first create a folder for each year. The subfolders then get the name of the respective project or client, in connection with the date of the shooting. These in turn should ideally contain two more subfolders: one for the unedited photos and one for the edited photos.

After the photos have been uploaded to the folder for the unedited photos, you can start sifting through them. The photo management programs offer different marking options for this purpose. In the first step, photos that are no longer needed can be deleted. The remaining photos can either be edited directly or further filtered, e.g. with the help of a star marker. It is advisable to repeat the sorting out in several steps, possibly also with some time interval. Because with a fresh look it is often much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Metadata storage

While a simple folder structure is usually sufficient for portrait and event shoots, photographers working in journalism or advertising, for example, also benefit from using keywords. Open formats such as EXIF and IPTC are helpful here. These are used to store metadata in digital photos. In addition to information about the camera used and the camera settings, the EXIF data also contains GPS data, for example, if this is supported by the camera and was activated when the photo was taken. This can be helpful when searching for photos from specific locations. With IPTC you can attach metadata in the form of text, date and number values to your photos. This allows you to record the location where the photo was taken, the photographic genre, the type of subject, and other characteristics. Also, licensing information can be stored or shooting details can be specifically hidden to protect your own work.

A potential problem is the loss of metadata after a JPEG photo has been modified and saved with photo editing software. EXIF data may be erased by automatic data compression in this case. So always make sure to properly save photos in JPEG or TIFF format. In Adobe Photoshop, for example, the “Save as” function must be used, otherwise the files will be saved without EXIF data. Also be careful with the “Save for Web and Devices” function, as the EXIF data will be lost here as well.

Data backup for photographers

It is never a good idea to keep important data in only one place. A hard drive can quickly break and all the photos are lost. Therefore, a good backup strategy is essential.

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