Lightroom: My File Naming Conventions

category: Lightroom • 2 min read

This is what works for ME. Use it only if it makes sense to you. You can easily adapt these principles to your own workflow.

The file name out of my camera, a Canon, is IMG_0123.CR2 and what does this mean? Absolutely nothing. This was shot on Wall St in New York, 12-Oct-2005 at 11:34am.

Renaming files

  • I don’t think in date, I think in places or people.
  • I use either the project name or the person’s initials with a numbering scheme.
  • I use the date from the EXIF.
  • I don’t use the time for the original photo.
  • I number the files in the series to know: the sequence guaranty the file name will be unique

So my: IMG_0123.CR2 becomes: NEWYORK-20051012-0006.CR2. This tells me that this photo is:

  • from New York
  • was taken on 12-Oct-2005
  • was the 6th photo taken on that day
  • it’s raw

Because of the dates being used for the naming scheme, you must keep the clock and time zone accurate on your camera.


For people and pets, I can’t use the family name, because I have:

  • Two (2) Arden Angela
  • Three (3) Dealy Art (2 are Dealy Art and 1 is Dealy Arthur)

In my customer database, I assign them an ID based on their Last Name initial, First Name initial and a number from 001 to 999. So I will have the Angela Arden as AA001 and AA002, but they are easy to find because I already know that it will start with AA… Art Dealy will be DA001 and DA002 with Arthur Dealy being DA003.

Whose initials to use? For me, it’s the paying customer. If not, it’s impossible to deal with groups. You can put the people’s name in the IPTC description.

So my: IMG_0411.CR2 becomes: DA002-20071119-0062.CR2. This tells me that this photo is:

  • a portrait
  • from Dealy Art, the second one
  • was taken on 19-Nov-2007
  • was the 62nd photo taken on that day
  • it’s raw


I don’t use Bridge or Lightroom for renaming the photos, because I need to rename them by project or person:

  • I connect the card through the USB card reader.
  • I import the photos through the Explorer to a to-process directory.