How I organize my Photos to play nicely with Capture One and Lightroom

Updated on in Photography
Tags: Capture One Lightroom Organization

As mentioned before, I use Capture One and Lightroom for processing my pictures. In this article I will explain how I organize my pictures to play nicely with both programs and potential others in future.

Before I explain how I organize my photos I would like to take a moment to layout the goals I try to solve:

Physical Organization

The physical layout, by that I mean how the files are stored in the file system, is a follows:

Here is a visual representation how my files are organized

  + 2014
  |   + 2014-01-01---Paris
  |   |    + Capture
  |   |    |   + 2014-01-01---Paris--0001.NEF
  |   |    |   ...
  |   |    + Output
  |   |    + Selects
  |   |    + Trash
  |   |    + Videos
  |   |
  |   + 2014-01-02---Hamburg
  |   ...
  + 2015
  |   ...
  + Mobiles

The approach is relative simple, every photo is at maximum 3 levels from main folder. While being on the road I can create a new Capture One session for each project/location, organize and process my pictures. When I am back home I simply copy the whole folder into my main folder hierarchy and import the images into my main Lightroom catalog.

Virtual Organization

In the previous section I described how I organize the images on the filesystem. In this section I describe how I manage my photos within Lightroom and Capture One. Both Lightroom and Capture One offer collections, but unfortunately there is no way to sync them across programs. I therefore decided to organize all my images via hierarchal keywords. Meta-data, like keywords, can be stored in the file itself (or in side car files). Using this approach I not only can have the same organization between both programs, but also can use other programs that supports hierarchal keywords. As added bonus this also serves as a backup of my organization system in the file system.

Settings and Configuration

Storing Meta-Data with Files

Both Lightroom and Capture one allow you to store/sync metadata in the actual files (or side car files). This crucial for my approach. In Lightroom you can enable this in the catalog settings:

In Capture you can enable this in the Image -> Metadata settings. You can choose to either have full synchronization enabled or just load:

Rendering out the Keepers

One of the issues you have with using multiple, non-destructive software systems is that they do not create physical files. This is a great way to conserve space but will require you to open the corresponding app to access the images. To avoid this issue I started to render out my keepers (i.e., photos that would more than happy to show to other people). While this requires a little more space, it allows me to access the image without having to open application, directly from the file system and allows the other application to see it too.

To DNG or not to DNG

The clear answer is not to convert your files to DNG (This is not an article about DNG, but most of the Adobe’s makreting facts do not hold up in real live). I used to do this for a while an regret it. There is simply no real advantage of using DNG over the native file format. Once Adobe converted the files to DNG other software (e.g., Capture One) cannot unleash its full potential due to the fact that the original information has been altered or lost.