Photo Intake Process

This is the process I go through when I pull photos off of phones or cameras to add to my collection. Following this process helps me ensure I keep everything organized and backed up. Plus, with a consistent organization, I can easily find things later.

My photo intake process is very similar to my home video intake process and usually takes place at the same time because the devices with photos usually also have videos.

Photo Organization

I organize my photos by date and logical event. For photos that don’t have a particular event associated, I create a “random pictures” folder by month. For example, you might see a layout like this in my pictures folder:

pictures/
    2012/
    2013/
    2014/
    2015/
        20150101 Random Photos/
            20150103_132230 Crazy Cat Face.jpg
            20150112_165211 Phoenix Dancing.jpg
        20150405 Easter Sunday/
            20150505_094112.jpg
            20150505_101201.jpg
            20150505_104532.jpg

Intake Process

  1. Download the photos from the device onto my computer desktop.
  2. Use exiftool to rename the files to a format like YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS.jpg (e.g., 21050611_113812.jpg) based on the original date/time field in the photo. The command to do this is: exiftool "-FileName<DateTimeOriginal" -d "%%Y%%m%%d_%%H%%M%%S%%%%-c.%%%%e" your_image.jpg.
  3. Fix any files that didn’t have proper metadata or were otherwise corrupt. This happens with some camera programs or photo editors - sometimes you have to manually tweak the original date/time metadata. I use Microsoft Pro Photo Tools for that - free and pretty easy. After that’s fixed, I re-run the exiftool rename command. Rinse and repeat until all pictures are correctly named.
  4. Group photos by logical event. If there are three or more photos associated with a memorable event, I’ll put those in a folder with a descriptive name. The folder will be named in a YYMMDD format with an additional small description, like 20150405 Easter Sunday. All the photos will be put in there and no additional work is required.
  5. For remaining photos - the ones that are sort of “random” - I add a small description to each photo so we can basically tell what it is, like 20150103_132230 Crazy Cat Face.jpg. These photos will get grouped by month into folders with the description “Random Photos” like 20150101 Random Photos.

Exiftool Script

For convenience, I created a batch file for exiftool called picture-rename.bat and put it in the same folder as exiftool. I can now run picture-rename.bat *.jpg and it does all the photos at once.

%~dp0exiftool "-FileName<DateTimeOriginal" -d "%%Y%%m%%d_%%H%%M%%S%%%%-c.%%%%e" %1