Three Reasons Why I Don’t Organize My Photos By Date

I don’t organize by date for three main reasons:

  1. I actually used to organize by date when I first started using Lightroom, but organizing by date requires you to remember, to some extent, when you shot all your photos. I have 15+ years of photos in Lightroom — I can’t remember whether I went to Spain in 2011 or 2012. I can’t remember if it was April, or May or June. It relies too much on my memory, and I spent a lot of time searching through folders and finding out I was searching in the wrong one.

When I organize by name, finding my photos is so simple.

When I want to find my trip to Spain, I go under Travel, and there it is; Spain. If I’ve been to Spain more than once, I will name the 2nd one with something that might separate it from the first trip. For example, my first trip would be named “Spain.” The 2nd trip might be “Spain with the kids” (see above). A third might be “Spain” (third trip)” or even “Spain 2021,” but either way: when I look in my Travel Collection Set, I would easily find all three Spain trips in order alphabetically. Easy peasy. I don’t count on my memory to find my Spain trip; just simple organization using plain-English descriptive names.

When I was shooting football, I would organize by Season at the Collection Set top level so that I would have a Collection Set named “Football,” and then inside of that I’d have 2018, 2019, and so on, but inside of each of those Collection Sets, there would be no dates. Just Bucs vs. Raiders, Cowboys vs. Eagles, and so on.

The 2nd reason might be even more compelling

2. I don’t have to organize by date because Lightroom is already doing it for me, automatically behind the scenes, so if I ever want to organize my photos by date…well…they already are. So, me naming everything by date is redundant to what Lightroom is already doing for me. Here’s how to see your images sorted by date.

STEP ONE: To see your images sorted by date (and even by the day of the week), start by going to the Catalog panel and clicking on ‘All Photographs” (as shown above) so you’re viewing your entire catalog.

Want to see the shots you took on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2012. Here they are.

STEP TWO: Next, go to the Library Module; press the Backslash key ( \ ), which brings up the Library filter. The first column shows the Date, and there they all — every image in your entire library, sorted by year, month, day, and even day of the week. This is all happening automatically without any input from you whatsoever.

For example, if I wanted to see just the images I took on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, I would just go to 2012, then click on ‘May,’ and there, listed by day, are all the shots I took that month. Look to the right of Tuesday the 8th – that 26 to the right of it means I took 26 shots on that day. If I click on Tuesday the 8th (as shown above), Lightroom brings up just the 26 photos I took on that day. How cool (and effortless) is that?

Actually, maybe the third reason…

The third reason is that with my collection sets, collections, and even the files themselves named with simple descriptive names, I don’t have to do any keywording. None. Zero. I don’t do any keywording whatsoever, and I can find the images I want in just seconds. I got a whole segment of my life back when I stopped keywording, and I haven’t looked back.

Note: There’s no reason to be defensive in the comments if you organize by date — if you feel it’s working for you and you’re happy with it, there’s no reason for you to change. I’m just showing you how I organize my images using descriptive names and the reasons why I do. I’m not telling you that you have to do it this way. I’m just sharing how I do it.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


P.S. I’ll be teaching at B&H Photo’s OPTIC 2022 Outdoor, travel, and wildlife photography conference this weekend in New York City. You can still sign up and either go in person, or you can watch virtually online, and the amazing thing is – whichever you choose, they’re both absolutely free! Why not register right now (it’s free, did I mention the free part?) over at bhoptic.com – I’m teaching classes on travel photography (Monday) and how to post-process your travel images (Sunday). Hope I see you there (or online).