Photographer File Organization and Workflow

This month’s Rising Tide topic, organization and workflows really spoke to me. I may not be a social media guru or the most talented photographer in the world, but I can tell you, I am a chaser of efficiency, folder organizing, workflow fanatic type of gal. After listening at our Tacoma Tuesday’s Together meeting, I was inspired to share my way of doing things. Several people reached out to me and I figured, what better way to explain folder organization and Lightroom catalogs than a video tutorial? I am constantly changing and perfecting things but I can offer you a great place to start.

So first things first, I work off of 4T WD Mybook external hard drives. When one becomes full, I copy the current year to a new hard drive and move forward from there. My computer and external hard drives are constantly backing up to back blaze which helps mitigate any loses of data should something happen.

Inside my hard drive, I organize my folders by year. Once in the current year, each project has a folder titled with the date, clients name and type of session. This is the “master project folder” that encompasses everything else. I use Photo Mechanic and import all of the raw files into a folder titled raw.  Once they’re uploaded, I cull by color labeling the photos and then drag all of the photos I’m going to edit into an “edit” labeled folder. This is helpful because at the one year mark, I can delete the “raw” folder with all of the unused raw files with one click and open up some more hard drive space.

Once I finish culling in photo mechanic, I create a new catalog in Lightroom for that specific project. Once you start working out of multiple catalogs, catalog titles will appear when you go to open lightroom. If you’ve never created a new catalog, when you’re inside of lightroom, go to the top bar select file, then create new catalog. Find the “master folder” for the project you created and save the catalog in there. If for any reason you need to go back into the catalog and it’s not in your recents, you’ll be able to easily find the catalog file in your master folder. Once the photos are edited, I export them into a “jpegs” folder that is saved in the master project folder as well.

If for any reason, you forget to rename or organize the photos before you export them to jpegs, you can “add” the jpegs folder and take care of it in lightroom as well.

On a side note, if you use Blog Stomp to create collages or blog your session, you an also have those specific photos exported into a stomped folder in the same “master folder” as well. you can do that by going to your settings and output. Select your external hard drive under the browse folder and check the box that says “save to image source folder -create stomped folder next to source images.”

This file organization system will save you time and will set you up for success in the future. Using multiple catalogs also increases light rooms speed and the catalog integrity.

To finish up file management per client, I use 17hats. There are tons of awesome client management systems that offer workflow options. I know that all of my clients photos are secure and love knowing that I can have my quotes, contracts, invoices, notes, emails and questionnaires all in one place as well. I have templates set up for all of those things and have created workflows to help guide me through a client’s project and ensure every client is taken care of and getting awesome service. You can set up things in the workflow for approval, to send automatically or to simply remind you to take action.

The biggest thing with workflows and organization is not the exact  management system you use or the process you follow but just finding or creating a workflow that works for you, is effiencet and gives your clients consistency across the board. I hope this helps and please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at all!

File Organization Cliff Notes :

Hard drive > Year > Project (Date | Names | Type of Session) > Folders inside project (Raws, Edits, Jpegs, Stomped, Catalog)

Products I love mentioned in this tutorial:

WD Mybook External Hard Drive

Backblaze – Referral code for discount


17 Hats – Referral code for discount

Gentle CC is welcome as I’m new to creating tutorials! Thanks 🙂

comments +

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome to the blog! I’m a small-town Florida girl and Army wife relocated to the Seattle Suburbs, documenting love from one coast to the other. I live for a good PNW mountain breeze, sweat pants, and local eats. Let's be friends!

Hey there! I'm megan-
Washington Elopement and Intimate Wedding PHOTOGRAPHER



The Sanders Estate is the perfect combination of southern vintage elegance and outdoor beauty. It was no surprise that these two had a stunning day filled with sunshine, beauty and sentiment.

read next:






on instagram


Follow along for all adventures to come. #meganmontalvophotography