Photo Naming Conventions – Organizing and Naming Photos On Your Computer

Wouldn’t you like to easily organize your digital photos? Do you wonder what the best photo naming conventions are?

photo naming conventions

Organizing and Naming Photos On Your Computer

First, know your software and system.  There are plenty of tools to help you pull your photos off of your camera or phone and get them into your archives  Windows comes with photo programs.  Apple Photos is one of the most ubiquitous and easy-to-use programs, for sure.

The most frustrating thing about software might be that downloading your photos from camera cards or other external sources can result in your photos having odd, computer assigned names.  Search your download program for an option or field that lets you assign a name to a batch of photos while you are downloading them. You might be able to download a batch of photos that you name “birthday 2011”, and each photo will start with that name and then end with the number in sequence.  If you don’t like your download program, and you can’t do named batch downloads, go and search for another one.

It might seem a little obvious, but take the time to create different folders, and avoid dumping all of your photos into the Microsoft “My Photos” folder.  This is essentially like throwing a handful of photos into a closet and shutting the door.  Sure, you could search for a particular file later, but why would you?  Instead, just name the folders by year, or you might have folders with more meaningful names, such as:

  • birthdays
  • Christmas
  • home
  • weddings
  • vacations

Photo Naming Conventions

From there, you can subdivide your photos using a naming system.  It is immensely helpful to have a naming convention for your photos so that you’ll be able to find them again later. Your computer file system will want to arrange your files either alphabetically or numerically. The computer always sorts 0-9 an a-z. I recommend the following naming convention for family photo files, which keeps files neat and allows you to find files quickly:

Format:            Year-Month-Day-Kidname-Event-or-Holiday

Example:         2010-04-01-KittyCat-Easter

Be sure to use numbers for the month names, since December comes before October, but 10 always comes before 12. And don’t use illegal characters, like ! @ #. $ % b^ & * ( ) /.

You have up to 256 characters (roughly), so you can write something fairly descriptive.

Figure out this naming system once, write it down, tape it to your computer, and use it every time you download your pictures.  Suddenly all of those fun photos will be worth a lot more because you can actually find them again.  Unless you are married to a pro photographer, knowing who took the picture probably isn’t important. If you use this method, all family members can save photos the same way, with the same file name format, and create a very useful family photo treasure trove.

One last trick… turn your paper photos into a digital archive without any fuss.  Don’t try to scan them at home, since whatever scanner you already own isn’t made for photo scanning, and specialty photo scanners are expensive and prone to breakage. Making quality copies of digital photos is so easy, and you no longer have to be the one person with all the family archives.

Oh, and did I mention to be sure to backup your computer to safeguard all those treasures???

I’m always looking for new tricks, so please share your favorite photo info here.  Happy snapping.