Sunset PhotographyThis was originally a fixed page rather than a post but as I do all my photo editing on a Mac now I thought it best to change it to a post instead. This allows me to archive it off for future reference…

Here is a concise description of my current Digital Photography Workflow. I have explained the thought processes behind it a post on my blog titled Working on a Workflow. And any tweaks will be logged under the tag workflow.

This is meant only a guide so feel free to try other software as you see fit.

Initial Set-up

This section is an explanation of the basic set-up required to use this workflow.

External Directories

Create an external directory somewhere off you local machine. I map a network share to a drive on my local machine but this could just be an external USB hard drive or even some on-line storage solution.

Now you can create the following directories:

  • Originals
  • Archive

I consider the Originals directory as a temporary backup in case of hardware failure or if you accidentally delete something.

The Archive directory is an archive for already processed images. This is the important stuff and so there should be some other copy of this somewhere in case of disk failure. This could be on your local machine, a separate external drive, on-line storage or plain old CD or DVDs. For extra peace of mind though this should really be kept off site, at work for example, or a friends house, just in case the worse happens.

If you don’t mind losing your negatives then you could just back up the Collection directory instead as this will be considerably smaller.

Local Directories

Create the following directories somewhere on you local machine, e.g. My Documents\My Pictures\:

  • Collection
  • Darkroom
  • Exports
  • Gallery

Just as a precaution I also backup these directories to external storage as well, a file server in my case, but this is not essential.

Naming Conventions

Directory Naming

Photos are stored in these directories in a Year/Date structure:


To keep the folders in correct date order the format of the directory is YYYY-MM-DD as seen above:

  • YYYY is the year
  • MM is a 2 digit number for the month
  • DD is a 2 digit number for the day

This allows a simple sort of the 2009 directory to sort all the subdirectories in date order even if you add a description to the directory name:

Collection\2009\2009-09-05 Vancouver
Collection\2009\2009-10-01 Blog Photos

In the above example I have used spaces as this seems to come naturally when typing words. This is actually not advised for any non Microsoft set-up but just seems to be the most logical way of naming directories that I seem to do it anyway.

File Naming

I name files based on date and time taken. This gives me a heads up when trying to find where the image will be filed away in case I need to re-process it or just need access to a different redering of an image. The actual filenames are of the format YYYYMMDD-HHMMSS-XX:

  • YYYYMMDD uses the same components as in the directory structure above
  • HH is the 2 digit number representing the hour in 24 hour format
  • MM is the 2 digit number representing the minutes
  • SS is the 2 digit number representing the seconds
  • XX is an incrementing counter, in case there are multiple photos taken at exactly the same second

The image type file extension, e.g. jpg or cr2, is ignored when creating the filename, including the counter, as different versions of the image may be produced which may then match the extension of another image causing the filename to no longer be unique.

Workflow Steps

Import Photos

  1. Pull photos directly off the memory cards using DIM into the Originals and Darkroom directories at the same time. (If using DIM then make sure the Originals directory is the target and Darkroom is the backup path)
  2. Once imported you should give all directories with just a date as their name an additional description.
  3. Prune any obviously useless images.

Process Photos

  1. Add photos to a new project in DXO Optics Pro.
  2. Make any required changes to each photo, e.g. dust removal, exposure adjustment etc.
  3. Process images into required outputs to Exports directory, including full size jpeg files. (The full size jpegs could go directly to the Collection directory)

Add to Collection

  1. Move the full size jpeg files of all processed images to the Collection directory, using the directory naming convention above.
  2. Open Windows Photo Gallery and make sure the new photos are available. Sometimes they take a while to get added to the library.
  3. Give each image a rating from 1-5:
    1. Poor/Duplicate
    2. OK
    3. Good
    4. Very Good
    5. Excellent
  4. Remove all images with a rating of 1 from both the Collection and Export directories.
  5. Add appropriate tags to all remaining images. Make sure every image has at least one tag.
  6. Copy any images with a rating of 5 (and possibly the 4’s) to an appropriate place in the Gallery directory.


When you have completed processing all photos within a Darkroom sub-directory then that directory can be archived. Depending on how you backup the Archive directory there are 2 possible routes to take here. If you synchronise the whole Archive directory with something like an external drive on on-line storage then you should follow the Directory Sync method otherwise if you back up files to some smaller storage media like CDs or DVDs then you should follow the Media Backup method below.

Directory Sync

  1. Move the completed directory from the Darkroom directory over to the Archive directory.
  2. Run manual sync with backup storage, even if there is an automatic backup that runs at regular intervals.

Media Backup

  1. Work out the size of the Darkroom directories to be backed up.
  2. Backup directories to CD or DVD based on the calculated size.
  3. Move the backed up directories from the Darkroom directory over to the Archive directory.
Image: Shirley O’Shea


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