Workflow - Stay organized!


I’m currently following the Commercial Photography at Dawson College in Montreal. Since I have a lot of assignments to deliver to my teachers and clients, I thought it would be good for me to have a clear and fast workflow for file handling.

For the last couple of months, I have been testing many workflows that other photographers use in the industry and I came up with my own and I am sharing it to you. 

If you have any suggestions, comments or questions, feel free to contact me at

The Structure 

The first thing you need to do is to set the structure of your workflow and that is creating all the main folders on your computer or on your hard drive.  A good way to start is to create a main folder under your system’s Image Folder called Your Company Name or Your Name - Images. This folder is where all the other sub-folders will be created. Then, in that same folder, you create your category folders. You can create the ones that apply to you.

  • Architecture 
  • Collaborations
  • Commercial
  • Events
  • Lifestyle
  • Model Agencies
  • Personal
  • Portfolio
  • Travel
  • Weddings

After you’ve created the necessary category folders, you make your project folders within each category. I suggest you name them according to the date of shoot, your client’s name or company. The trick is to give it a name to easily recognize the project. 

In these folders that you just made, you need to create one more folder called 1. RAW or 1. Captures. This where all your raw images or original captures will be stored. 

Now that you have everything created, you will need to make Lightroom catalogues. One for each category. Name them “_LRCatalog_CategoryName


  • _LRCatalog_Collaborations
  • _LRCatalog_Commercial
  • _LRCatalog_Personal

Save those catalogue in its category folder

Importing To Lightroom

 Now that you have the folders created, you are ready to import all your raw images into the ”1. RAW” folder. When the task is done, drag the 1. RAW folder into Lightroom.

In Lightroom, make sure to select “Add” as the import setting. This will leave all your files in its existing folder (1. RAW).

After the import is finished, right click on your 1. RAW folder (located on the left side of Lightroom when you’re in Library mode) and select “Show Parent Folder”. This will show the folder in which the 1. RAW is (which should be the projects folder).

Now, right click on the parent folder and select “Create a new folder in ‘Name of your projects folder’ ”. Create these folders:

  • 2. Selects
  • 3. Masters
  • 4. Outputs
  • 5. Submissions (optional)

The selects folder is where you put all the selected photos that you’re considering for editing.

The masters folder is where you export the selected pictures that you’re actually going to retouch. Usually exported as .TIF or .PSD files. Quick note: .TIF files can save up to 4GB of data and .PSD can save up to 2GB. It is something to consider when you plan on doing heavy retouching or composites.

The outputs folder is where you export your final retouched/edited photos that are ready to be delivered to your clients. Usually saved as .JPG or flatten .TIF.

The submissions folder is optional. I usually use this folder when I plan on submitting my editorial to a magazine and they need the pictures to be their custom settings such as a certain size, crop and PPI. I don’t create the submission folder for all my projects.

Select “Show Parent folder”

Create new folder inside the project’s folder

Your structure should look like this.

Making Your Selection And Exporting For Retouch

Once all your photos are imported to Lightroom and all your folders are created. You are ready to start selecting the images that will make it to the delivery. 

I usually use the stars to rate my pictures:

  • 1 - 3 stars : Not using it.
  • 4 stars : Considering for retouch
  • 5 Stars : Retouching
  • Flagged : Must Retouch

After making my selection, I take all my images that I have with a 4 + stars rating, grab them and move them to my « 2. Selects » folder. By doing that, I know that I have quick access to my selected raw images without using any filter to sort them. 

From now on, you can make all the necessary adjustments on your pictures and when you’re ready, export them as TIFF or PSD to the ”3. Masters“ folder for retouch.

Exporting For Delivery

After you’ve done all the necessary retouching in Photoshop and you’ve saved your files, go back to Lightroom and select your 3. Master folder, right click, and click on ”Sync folder“ this will sync your retouched pictures, its metadata and all the information that you did in photoshop. 

Select the images and export them. Enter your custom settings in the export menu and export your images to 4. Outputs folder.

Every time that you retouch your picture in Photoshop, make sure to update its information by synching the folder.

When all your files are exported to your “4. Outputs” folder, go back to Lightroom, right click on the 4. Output folder and select ”Sync Folder“ this will bring (import) your JPG images in Lightroom.


I usually archive my projects 2 – 3 months after I delivered the finals images. I archive them in two separate hard drives (because you never know what can happen). 

To archive a project, go to Lightroom, right click in the main folder and select ”Export this project as a Catalogue“ A menu will pop up asking you to name your new catalogue. I suggest giving it the same name as your project. 

Save everything to the desire place. 

Note : By using this method for archiving, you have a quick and easy access to your projects. Just open your catalogue and all the settings / editing folder structure and photos will already be there. Fantastic isn’t it?

This is pretty much it.

I hope I help a few to stay more organized in their workflows. Remember, being organized is crucial in this industry. 

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