Getting photos organized into date specific folders.

It’s difficult dealing with a large number of photos. Over the years I have accumulated a lot and I’ve also deleted a lot. Though I’m sure not as much as some people, right now I have around 1.25TB. Before I go into more specific details about my personal quest to get things organized and backed up to some degree, I wanted to mention the main purpose of this article.

To get things organized into the most logical format possible, it was difficult finding something that would work, at least on Windows. After some experimentation and searching I wound up using Exiftool. It’s a somewhat simple command line tool that can do batch processing on images and source EXIF data in that process. Other tools I found didn’t work as I had expected, or were a hassle to use.

In Windows, you download the standalone EXE from Phil’s Exiftool website, extract the EXE, rename it by removing the (-k), and copying it to the C:\Windows directory for ease of running from the command line, because no path to the EXE is needed if it is in the Windows directory.

I’m still unsure on what everything means in the command line here, but here is the process I’m using right now to get things ordered (Windows 7):

exiftool -r -d F:/IMAGES/%Y/%m/%d/%Y%m%d_%H%M%S%%-c.%%e "-FileName<CreateDate" "-FileName<DateTimeOriginal" F:\PHOTOS

The gist here is that my photos are in a jumbled mess in F:\PHOTOS. The tool takes those, and in the process of moving them it renames them and places them in new folder structure F:/IMAGES with further paths for the year, month, and day based on internal EXIF data. The main details on how to write calls to the application can be found here.

In my case:
%Y = 4 digit year
%m = 2 digit month
%d = 2 digit day

%H = 2 digit hours
%M = 2 digit minutes
%S = 2 digit seconds

%%-c = When photos have duplicate timestamps, this will give them a unique batch number, so it is an important step.

%%e = the original file extension

The other parameters “-FileName<CreateDate” “-FileName<DateTimeOriginal” (and “-filename<filemodifydate”), are related to what tags or information about the file it pulls from to form dates values.

That’s it. Running the line from Window’s CMD.exe with administrator privileges should result in a reordered file structure. For me, it’s running as I write this and appears to be working.

I started with most of the photos duplicated manually over two disk drives. Recently I purchased a second 3TB drive and set that up as RAID 1. Copying the photos, just barely, onto a 1.5TB external drive I had. I eventually got them back on the new RAID1 setup and have been trying to get them organized. Even though the photos are technically on 3 disks now, it still feels like bare minimum in regard to backup. I’m not too worried if someday I lose everything, because they are not that important (“I can always take new photos”) and I have a good deal of them on in my Zenfolio gallery as high resolution JPEGs as well as sprinkled around social network websites in smaller format.

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