Renaming Picture Files


I had a problem.  Over the years I have taken pictures with multiple cameras and am currently taking pictures with two different cameras, sometimes on the same day.  Up until now I have relied upon the file naming structures provided by each camera manufacturer.  Unfortunately, they use different naming structures and this makes it hard to find and identify different pictures.  This is an especially irritating problem when I merge pictures from multiple cameras into one folder while making one of my day-by-day video journals of our trips.  It’s not always necessary to keep the pictures time-sequenced but it often helps.

To remedy this situation, I decided to use a feature of the LightRoom 3.3 (LR) software to rename my pictures when I download them from the camera memory cards to the computer.  I figured that this would be an easy problem until I researched how others renamed their photos … and didn’t find a solution that worked for me as well as I wanted.  Fortunately, LR has a custom feature and I was able to come up with a solution that I think will work.  I rename each picture with the date and time and event.

My new file renaming structure is as follows:  YYMMDD-HHMMSS_Event.  That is two digits for the year, two for the month, two for the day, separated by  –  and followed by two digits for the hour, two for the minute, and two for the second that the picture was taken.  I then follow with a one-word identifier of the event.  For example, note the above picture, one in my collection of pictures taken around home … hopefully to be part of our memories after we eventually move.  It isn’t anything special, but it was taken while Marcia, Misty, and I were taking a walk in Northridge, our community, on the 27th of Feb. 2011 at exactly 29 minutes and 12 seconds after 11 am.

Some may consider this overkill, but it solves my problem.  Maybe it, or something like it, will help you manage your collection.  It is now an effortless job that the computer automatically does for me while downloading my pictures.  No more problems, well, at least with identifying my photos.  Since Adobe still doesn’t convert the RAW files in the Olympus E-PL2 cameras and since I don’t wish to use the Olympus software, I took the above picture with the Panasonic 14mm prime lens mounted on my E-P1 and then cropped it.


  1. Nik

    Also.. I’ve hardly touched Photoshop since switching to LR3
    and LR2 before that. The only time I really play with PS is at work or when I want to do something very specific to the photo that I can’t with LR3.. which is very rare.


  2. Nik

    I also use LR3 extensively for mass photo editing and excellent presets. But LR3 also has a wonderful tagging feature that I find invaluable when going through all my past photos. Having gigs upon gigs of photos can be a daunting task if you’re just using the normal folder to folder manual search. But LR3 has resolved all those issues for me by allowing me to tag photos and search for them that way.

    I don’t think it’s an overkill to rename your photos as you see fit. Matter of fact what are the chances that other people (guest) will be going through your LR3 album? So naming convention that makes sense TO YOU is hardly an overkill.

    I personally tag the living crap out of my fotos just in case later on I can’t find certain photos with a single word. So I fill the tag box with a bunch of words that pertain that photo or series to make it easier for me in the future and this has saved me countless of man hours.