How to file for easy retrieval with Photoshop CS6

How to file for easy retrieval with Photoshop CS6

How to file for easy retrieval in Photoshop


With a strike rate of one in a hundred, the storage of digital negatives for street photography is critical. I have a method based on the wise words from Don Han and his co authored book ‘On being a photographer’, which every photographer should spend the few pennies and sharpen up their skills.

Storage these days is easy, with external hard drives and the cloud but the process should be equally simple. This is how I do it from SD card to save and close.

1.Create two new folders on your desktop. One simply with the FULL date as it’s title and the second following these parameters.

<Intitials (first name and first two letters of surname>_<ddmmyyyy>_<Project_Name>


2.Insert your SD card and begin the process of conversion to a file photoshop can use, using ddmmyyy as a label, and make the destination for these files the full date name file on your desktop.


3.Delete files from your SD card and eject

4.Once the files are converted open in CS6 and begin post processing. By the very nature of  this you will probably work through something like Rob Heron’s method and be left with your images.


Open these as images in CS6 , attend to any more post processing you feel you might need to do and then title and save each file into the second folder on your desktop. Don’t close the file just yet.

Editing 2

5.In CS6 go to File>Automate>contact sheet II and change your settings to the ones shown.

Sheet settings

The reason I’ve chosen a 9×6 contact sheet with 4 x 3 images on it is a. it gives the images enough room to breath and secondly printing at this size is a LOT cheaper than the next size up. Press OK.

6.Annoyingly CS6 creates a white background for the contact sheet which you can keep or if your me, I select the white and Ctrl-I to make it black.


Name your contact sheet like this

<Intitials (first name and first two letters of surname>_<ddmmyyyy>_<Project_Name>_<colour_type>_<Page No 001>

I usually place this at the bottom left of my contact sheet.

(Hint : copy this type and use it for naming.)

Save this contact sheet to your desktop.

6.Close Photoshop. What you have now is a folder containing the RAW files, a folder containing your edited images which need no more processing and a contact sheet.

7.I basically have a photography master folder leading to a JPEG and RAW folders. Inside both are folders for each year and inside those a folder for each month ( 01 Jan 02 Feb – by putting the 01, 02 etc the computer realises them in order). The only difference between them is inside the JPEG folder, inside each month is a 01CONTACT SHEET folder.

Contact sheets to the JPEG folder for the pertaining month, the JPEG images to the pertaining month and the RAW files into the RAW folder pertaining to that month.


What this achieves is a simpler way to scan through your photos for retrieval by utilising a contact sheet and getting you into the habit of creating a contact sheet for when you have client work. By using a very clear but dedicated method small things can be changed to suit the project but the base is similar throughout.

This of course uses a date and project heavy filing system but I think for street photography those are the strongest elements. I of course do like a little efficiency in the back rooms so if you use another method or have better ideas leave a note in the comments box.


  1. Thanks for the tips and I always enjoy your website and photos.
    However, I do things considerably differently. First, I start with Lightroom (CS is only a click away for those few images who need "special" help) and rename every image on import to yyyymmdd_file name. This way the images are always sorted by date no matter where they are. Then if necessary I can move them to appropriate folders or apply keywords for project/subject separation. Plus, as you know, any editing in LR is non-destructive.
    Finally, for backup, I use Crashplan (there are dozens of others) to backup everything to the cloud once a day.
    Thanks again,

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