If you work with a lot of photos and are an organization freak like I am, renaming your photo files to something recognizable is a really good idea. I mean, say you’ve got hundreds of folders full of images and all those images had names like “IMG_1724” or “DSC00526” (Yes, I am looking through some of my old folders right now). I’ve got photos that data back to 2003 and while different makes and models of cameras use various naming conventions, attempting to search for an image using your operating system’s file search feature simply wouldn’t work. I suppose you could search for the folder you created and named, but as for finding specific files quickly, unfortunately you’d be out of luck. This is where Adobe Lightroom’s “File Renaming” panel comes in handily.
In this post, I’m going to explain how you can go about changing the file names of your images so they make more sense to you. I’ll also explain what types of naming conventions Adobe Lightroom offers as far as names go. Now, the “File Renaming” panel becomes available in Lightroom when you are pulling your images directly from your camera. It’s not available when you are importing from either your local or external hard drives.
The “File Renaming” Panel
If you haven’t already, you might want to read my previous two posts that talk about importing images into Lightroom. In this post, I’m going to start, basically, from almost the end of the process. In order to see how I got here during the import sequence, you may need some background.
If you already know how to locate your destination images and if you’ve already chosen which images you’d like to import, you’re in good shape. This next image should look very familiar. What we’re looking at here is the “File Renaming” panel in the right column.
NOTE: If you’d like to view the larger example image in this post, simply right click on it and choose “Open Image In New Tab.”
If this panel isn’t open yet, go ahead and click the small triangle that’s to the right of the panel name. Once the panel is open, click the checkbox that’s called “Rename Files.” Once that’s checked off, your renaming options should come alive.
The first, and most important, option we’ve got is in a dropdown box to the right of the word “Template.” If you click on that, you’ll see all the variations of how Lightroom can name your image files during import. Take a look at this image first and then check out the options available below it.
Here are the available options:
– Custom Name (x of y)
– Custom Name – Original File Number
– Custom Name – Sequence
– Custom Name
– Date – Filename
– Filename – Sequence
– Shoot Name – Original File Number
– Shoot Name – Sequence
Generally, as I mentioned above, the idea is to organize your files in such a way so they make sense to you and are recognizable. Also, it would be nice if they were searchable on your computer. With this in mind, a popular choice photographers make when it comes to renaming their images is the “Custom Name – Sequence” choice.
So, if we choose “Custom Name – Sequence” from the dropdown, we can see we’re given a few options. The “Custom Text” field is where we fill in what we’d like the first portion of our filenames to be. In my case, since I’m only importing the pictures of a dog running around my back yard, I’m typing “Dog Running” in that field. Obviously, you fill in whatever describes the photos you’d like to import the best.
Next up is the “Shoot Name” field. If we had chosen one of the shoot name options from the Template dropdown, we’d be able to fill this field in. Since we didn’t, it’s blacked out and unavailable.
After Shoot Name, we have a field called “Start Number.” This one has a lot of flexibility because Lightroom allows us to begin our sequence at any point we’d like. If this is a fresh import with no other similar photos already stored in our folder, we can go ahead and just type “1” in this field. But if we already have 49 other images from the same shoot imported, we’d fill in “50.” This way, every file imported from this point on would have the number 50 or larger attached to the end of it.
In the “Extensions” dropdown, we’ve got a few choices. We can either leave or file name extensions the way they are as they come out of the camera, make them lowercase or make them uppercase. This is simply based on preference.
Finally, and as you may have already noticed, we’ve got the file name preview below the Extensions option. With this preview, we’re given a live view of what the first of our file names will look like. This is handy because if you imported your images and incorrectly named them, you’d have to perform your import all over again.
Take a look at what my example looks like.
After you’ve got everything set, you can click the “Import” button or wait until my next post, where I discuss the “Apply During Import” panel.
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