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Creating a Lightroom Folder Structure

Unless you are working with other photographers in a network environment, the first rule in creating a catalog is to develop a folder structure that makes sense to you. If you are in a network environment with other photographers this may get a little complicated causing you to compromise. I find it best to write a brief sentence that describes your type of photography and what, where, or who you photograph. Review your sentence and look for a common denominator.


  • I’m a Portrait photographer whose clients include corporate professionals, celebrities, as well as families.
  • I’m a Nature photographer who travels to different locations photographing all types of birds.
  • I’m an independent Sports photographer specializing in portraits, team portraits and games for all levels of sports.

Portrait Photographer

Our portrait photographer photographs people, people associated with a corporation and people associated with a family. A person has a first and last name, corporations have a name as does a family. The common denominator is name.

Create a subfolder inside the main folder I named my main folder Photography and name the subfolder the clients name. Create a subfolder inside the clients folder and name it the year, month and day of the shoot followed by a brief description.

E:\Photography\Potter Family\20130411 Liam 4th Birthday

In the event you photograph this person, corporation or family several times in the course of a few years, you have each shoot organize.

Dealing with a conflict

Pruitt Real Estate hired you to photograph 75 of their employees. One of their employees is Chloe Garvin, a client of yours you have photographed before. Since Pruitt Real Estate paid for the shoot, Chloes portrait is in the Pruitt Real Estate folder. If she leaves the company, the image stays with the company, not her

Louis Davis personally hired you to take his corporate portrait. Following our file structure, you placed the image in a folder named Louis Davis with a sub folder named year, month and day followed by a descriptions of the shoot; Louis corporate portrait.

E:\Photography\Louis Davis\20140101 Louis Corporate Portrait

All is great, in fact it’s so great he hired you to take a portrait of his family. After the shoot you create a subfolder with the year, month and day followed by a description; family portrait inside the Louis Davis folder.

E:\Photography\Louis Davis\20140307 Family Portrait

Sports Photographer

Our Sports photographer photographs a wide range of sports and sport teams. The common denominator is the name of the sport and the name of the team. Sounds simple, however our photographer photographs different levels; Club, High School, College and Professional teams.The common denominator is level. To keep our folder structure organized, the first folder is Sports followed by a subfolder of the level of sport, High School Sports, followed by a subfolder of the name of the sport, Lacrosse. Inside the Lacrosse subfolder is the Name of the Teams subfolder. The final subfolder is the year, month and day of the shoot with a brief description. This structure keeps multiple sports and multiple levels organized.

E:\Photography\Sports\High School Sports\Lacrosse\Melbourne High School

Dealing with a conflict

Along with sport portraits, our photographer also photographs games. We need to create a Games subfolder under the name of the sport. The final subfolder is the year, month and day of the game followed by the names of the team.


Nature Photographer

Our Nature photographer photographs all types birds. The common denominator is name. However, our photographer travels the world photographing these birds in different locations, another common denominator. Our nature photographer has a few options. They can organize the folder structure starting with the name of the bird followed by the location or start with the location followed by a subfolder of the date and name of the bird. Adding the date enables the photographer to photograph the same bird at the same location but on a different date.

E:\Photography\Egret\201508006 Viera Wetlands

E:\Photography\Viera Wetlands\20100512 Limkin

The question for our nature photographer is which is more important, the location of the shoot or the type of bird they photographed. Their answer will determine which folder structure they use.

Dealing with a conflict

If our nature photographer photographs several different types birds on the same day and location using one memory card, they can import all images into one folder then move the images into their proper folder.

These examples serve as a foundation for organizing a catalogs folder structure. Remember, for the structure to be effective, it must make sense to you.

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