Find a photo organization system that works for you.

A person taking a photo with her phone of a lavender field

There are many ways to manage and organize a growing photo library. A system that works well for one photographer may not be as effective or intuitive for another. One thing is sure: your archive of images will only get larger over time. So considering the different ways you might organize your images is time well spent.

Advantages of a cloud-centric system

With a cloud-based system for managing your photos, like the system in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you don’t have to maintain a folder-based structure of photos on your local hard drives. That part of the process, which can be challenging, is seamlessly handled for you when your photos are stored in the cloud. A cloud-centric system may also allow you to work with your photos across different devices. It can also act as a backup, which is one less thing for you to worry about.

Automatic organizing by date

One of the most basic ways to organize and sort images is by the date they were taken. This may be already be done for you automatically based on the camera metadata in your photo files. Knowing you took a vacation to a national park two summers ago means you can easily find those photos by looking for images made on the dates you were on that trip.

Review and rate your images

We organize our photos to make it easier to find the ones that are important to us. One way to help with this is to rate your images with flags or star ratings. Not every image needs to be rated, but applying ratings to the best photos makes them easier to locate when searching, filtering, or sorting your photo archive.

A photo of two women in traditional Japanese clothing showing their shoes and hand bags with a 3 out of 5 star rating

Organizing by grouping photos

Creating albums or collections based on categories of your own choosing is often the most effective way to organize your images because it is a reflection of how you think about them. Here are a few ideas for how you might use albums to organize photos:

  • Subject and Events: Many photographers like to organize by the subject matter in the photo, such as animals, landscapes, or portraits, or by occasions such as birthday parties, holiday gatherings, or school events.
  • Travel: Organizing the photos made on vacations or trips is a natural way to group images because travel events are very distinct in our memories.
  • Location: Use a top-level album or folder for the main topic (Places), and then add nested albums or folders for separate geographic regions (like North America, Europe, Asia). Within those geographic categories, you can add albums for countries and more specific locations.
  • Projects or clients: Creating categories based on a specific project or client is another way to organize your photos.
A grid of multiple photos from Japan

No matter how you choose to organize your images, by taking advantage of image metadata and albums, you will get more enjoyment from your growing image archive.

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