Thursday, June 2, 2011

Digital photography workflow - how to import pictures from multiple cameras

I searched this topic before writing about it, but I didn't find a satisfying solution.
The requirement is like this: I need to have all my pictures and videos organized by date taken into folders (like 2011\2011-06-02\[pics]). That's not so hard to achieve with traditional tools with default settings for importing pictures from camera or from flash cards.The problem with the default settings is that if you are importing pictures shot with different cameras you won't end up with a stream of chronologicaly ordered shots and also you might happen to have duplicate filenames - that's rare but it can happen. If the file duplicates can be solved in many ways, I didn't find a solution for having files chronologicaly sorted by default when opening the folder. Sure, you can use software that's able to sort by EXIF Date_Taken, but why not have them naturaly sorted, to be able to enjoy the stream of photos from a DLNA enabled TV for example?

The solution is to import all photos and videos with Adobe Lightroom (version 3.4.1 as of this writing). Lightroom enables you to import into subfolders by date and also rename the files after a
[date]-[time]-[original_filename]-[camera_model] pattern

You'll end up with folders by date:
My Pictures\2011-06-01
My Pictures\2011-06-02
and in each folder the pictures will be named:
20110602-094300-IMG_2342-iPhone4.MOV
20110602-094510-IMG_5574-EOS 5d Mark II.JPG

Sure, that's not the perfect solution, I would've preferred to be able to add keywords to the name of the folder (like 2011-06-02 Summer Holiday), so when later browsing the folders from a TV that cannot search by EXIF info you can quickly find the photos you're looking for. But that can be easily done manually.

I think this workflow is suited both for enthusiasts and for professionals. Correct me if you think otherwise.