Photo Names


It took me a while to stumble across a system for organizing the photos from my digital camera so that related images were all together and in chronological order.  This is the best I have ever seen.

Here's an example, then I'll break it down and explain why the sequence:

2005-12-25_01_xmas-FW_2.jpg
A filename should look like this.
1) Year -  This comes first instead of the month so that you don't have pictures from January of *every* year grouped together.

2) Month -  We're working largest unit to smallest, so this follows the year.

3) Day -  Since it's smaller than a month.

4) Number in series -  Note that I precede and follow it with an underscore so as not to confuse it with the date.

5) Description -  Description of the event.

6) Location -  Which city, state, whose house, etc. (FW = Fort Worth in this case.)

7) Indication if it's edited or original -  "_2" means this is the 2nd copy.  The original (which needed additional brightness) is retained without this designation.

8) File extension -  .jpg, just to know what format.


The process

First of all, I move all my pictures from the camera to c:\temp-digicam-pics.  I have other "temp" folders for various purposes (usually the install files for programs I'm testing or other files that need renaming).  This temp folder is a good place to go through and delete bad, out-of-focus shots before you begin the renaming process.

The next step is I use ACDSee to rename sequences of images by date.  I'm using a really old version of this, so I can't guaranty it hasn't changed, but the program was really good at allowing you to highlight groups of images (via a directory view that is very similar to Windows File Explorer).  I take them by a whole run on a given say and name them a series of things like 2014-12-25_##_.jpg.  The "##" portion is automatically converted into a series of consecutive numbers beginning with whatever value you tell it (although I always start with "1" unless I'm working on a series I'm modifying later).

Alternatively, I have also taken to using NIYoW (Name It Your Way), another renaming program, to renaming the files with their date.  This is an imperfect process, but it has reduced the labor involved from the mostly-manual approach I had to take with ACDSee.  (There is also the possibility of using DOS via a batch file, but I found that to be much more involved than I wanted to get into due to the variable number of characters in a file name.  Too technical to go into here.)

The key here is that I'm left with a bunch of pictures that end with "_.jpg"  I can always search/replace that portion and insert the subject of the image.  In my case, I only name things by a handful of categories.  At least 90% of my pictures fall into one of these: Stan, Stella (my kids) or both (in which case it's just labeled "kids"), kittens (if two or more are in the same shot), house, and Halloween.  I'll name the pictures by the pet's name if only one is pictured; that can be done by hand.

In order to automate the naming process, I created sub-folders for each of those categories.  I just go through the images again and pull out/file the ones that belong in each folder, which is usually pretty each since most of the time I'm only shooting pictures of, say, one kid or the other or Halloween or house projects.  Then the fun begins.

Each one of those folders contains a batch file with just a couple instuctions.  So the folder c:\temp-digicam-pics\stan contains a file called ren-stan.bat.  The contents of the file are below.  The first line simply renames the file to include his name (without removing the date), and the second line moves the file back to the root temp folder: c:\temp-digicam-pics.

ren *_.JPG *_stan.jpg
move *.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics

Once I've gone through all the folders, all my pictures are back in the original temp folder, all properly named now, so they're ready to be filed.  I organize my pictures by year (just to keep the number manageable per folder), so I have a batch file that moves all those files without me having to highlight and drag them.  It contains the line "move *.jpg "c:\my pictures\2014""  (The quotes ensure it doesn't overlook the space in the folder's name).  That files everything away with minimal effort!


Other tools to facilitate fast naming:

Oscar's Renamer - Basically treats a folder like a Notepad document which allows you to Search/Replace or cut/paste text.  Once you've made all the changes to a folder, you just hit "OK," and it's all saved.

NIYoW (Name It Your Way) - Another renaming program that has other options.  I mainly use this to append the folder name as a part of the file name for, say, mp3s where you get track number/song name without the album name (which is the folder).  Will also do the numbering in sequence like I described with ACDSee.


Update: The automated version.

I automated several steps in the process and just saved each step as a series of numbered batch files that remind me which order to do them in.  Here's the command line(s) in each and a short explanation of what they do.
01-move-from-card.bat
Grabs all the images off the camera's card and moves them all into the same folder.  Pictures are normally stored in groups of a hundred each in subfolders for some reason.  Even if I just copied them over, I'd have to unpack those subs to put them into the temp folder for processing.  This series of "moves" looks in all 1000 possible folders (even though only 2 to 4 are usually present) so I don't have to.
move e:\DCIM\001CANON\*.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics\
move e:\DCIM\002CANON\*.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics\
move e:\DCIM\003CANON\*.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics\
move e:\DCIM\004CANON\*.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics\
move e:\DCIM\005CANON\*.jpg c:\temp-digicam-pics\
...and so on up to 999CANON

02-ren-jpgs.bat
ren *.JPG *.jpg
ren *.MOV *.mov
Just makes everything lowercase.  This is mostly an aesthetic preference, but it also helps with consistency/intuitiveness if any images are used in web pages because I don't have to remember to capitalize "JPG" for some images; I just use the same set of templates and search/replace or paste in the image file names.

03-clean-out-bad-shots.bat
Just a reminder.  The file just says "rem" as a place-holder.  This is the stage in the process where I delete any out-of-focus pictures or redundant shots before I start naming the series of them.

04-rename-with-NIYoW.bat
"C:\Program Files (x86)\NIYoW\NIYoW.exe"
This file will open "Name It Your Way" or it can just serve as a reminder.  I use this program to quickly rename files to contain the date in the aforementioned format.  The program allows you to save custom naming algorithms, which I do for this and related tasks.

05-rename-with-Oscar.bat
"C:\Program Files (x86)\RenamerXP\Renamer.exe"
One minor problem with "Name It Your Way" is that it numbers the duplicates but not the first in the series, so I have to go back and manually label a few images as "_01_"  It's a very minor thing but really jumps out at you if you're looking at a listing of images.  UPDATE: I fixed the code I used with NIYoW so that I don't have to do this extra step anymore.

06-rename-with-ACDSee.bat
Just a reminder.  At this point I already have the program open from cleaning out the bad shots.  Now I go through and add to the last part of the file name something about the subject of the images, usually my kids' name(s) or where the shot was taken.  UPDATE: I created a series of batch files for attaching the kids' names.  I put them into sub-folders, then I run the batch files, and it attaches the names and moves them back to the root.

07-move-jpgs-to-2014.bat
move 2015*.jpg "c:\my pictures\2015"
Simply moves the images from the temp folder to my permanent folder.

08-delete-contents-of-card.bat
FOR /D %%p IN ("e:\DCIM\*.*") DO rmdir "%%p" /s /q
Cleans off the images from the card so that I can start fresh without worrying about 1) running out of space on the card or 2) pulling off the same files as I processed/renamed the previous time.  Note that this is the very last step in this sequence because, up to this point, the camera card served as a backup of the images.  If I accidentally did anything to mess up the process or just plain lost files, I'd always have the entire series on the card.






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