Organise Your Family’s Digital Photos – Part 2: Create a Filing System For Your Digital Photographs

Filing System For Digital Photos


Welcome back to the second part of this series on organising your family’s digital photographs. In the first post we looked at the different ways that you can backup and store your digital photographs. Today we’ll dive deeper into organising our photographs, and look at setting up a filing system – so you can easily find what you’re looking for in 5, 10 or 20 years time.

Get All Of Your Photographs Into One Place

Before you start organising all of the different images you have into folders, I suggest getting them all into one place so you know what you are working with.

If you’ve been backing up as you go, then chances are everything will be on the same hard drive, or in a cloud-based storage system such Dropbox. If you’re setting up storage for the first time you’ll probably need to invest a few hours into finding all of your photographs and bringing them into one place.

You can learn more about choosing a storage system for your digital photos in part one.

Organise Your Photos By Date Taken

Now that you have all of your photographs in one place, the next step is to set up a filing system so that you can easily find what you’re looking for in years to come.

How complex your filing system is will probably depend on how many photographs you take. As a minimum, I’d suggest you have a folder for each year, and then organise the photographs from that year into ‘events.’ It could look something like this:

Filing System Digital Photos

If (like me) you take a lot of photographs you might want to separate them further. I have a folder for each year, which is then broken down into a folder for each month, and inside each month I have a folder for each ‘event.’ Here’s a screenshot to show you what it could look like:

Filing System Digital Photos

There’s no right or wrong answer here. The aim is simply to make it easy for you to find specific photographs when you’re looking for them.


Re-name Individual Files

One extra step you may like to take is to re-name each file so it’s easy to find. It may not seem necessary now, but in 20 years time, when you have thousands of photographs stored away you may not remember exactly what month or year an event happened in, but if you have named the renamed the file to the ‘event’ name a quick search will help you find it.

For example, you can see in the images below that if I search ‘Canada’ on my hard drive or Google Drive, the photographs from our recent holiday in Canada immediately appear. If I had saved the images with the filename assigned by my camera – for example IMG_1234 etc – they would not be so easy to find.

Filing System For Digital Photos

The good news here is that you don’t need to manually change the filename of every photograph. You can do it in batches. Here are some tutorials that explain batch re-naming of files on different platforms

Re-naming your files in Windows

Re-naming your files on a Mac

This App can be used to batch re-name files in Google Drive


Over to You

I hope the tips in this guide help you to choose a filing system for your photographs, and get them organised. If you missed the first part in this series, you can find it here. And if you’d like to receive the final part of this series straight into your inbox, simply sign up to my newsletter below.

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Picture of Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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