3 TOP TIPS: Jayne Lloyd on Using Descriptive Filenames

Our 3 TOP TIPS series is all about sharing snippets of inspiration and information from some of our favourite people in the photography industry. Something for everyone, and short enough to absorb with ease! So here’s Shutter Hub’s Jayne Lloyd, with her advice on using descriptive filenames when sending images out into the world…

Everyone has their own system for filing their images and their own system for naming/numbering them, but I thought it would be good to mention the benefits of using descriptive filenames for images that you send out into the world, and how to get the most from them.

Behind the scenes, I generally go for something like ‘Jayne_170526_3499′ for my filenames. The middle part is the date and the end is the number given by the camera. It’s basic, easy to keep things in some sort of order and helps me track images down. When I send images out to a client or onto the web, however, I try to add some descriptive words, like Jayne_Lloyd_DocumentaryTravelPhotography_SingaporeWindowStars_3499’, and this is what I’d suggest you think about when naming your files too.



1. Make them easy to identify 

Particularly important if the images are saved from the web or going to someone who is receiving lots of images from different people (a picture editor, or someone putting together a newsletter or blog etc.) Make sure they can easily see whose photo it is and what it is of without having to open the file, especially as they are likely to put images from lots of different people into one folder. I am sometimes this person and I can tell you it’s extremely helpful! Keep the text relevant though – if the image is for an assignment keep it short and to the point – really long filenames can be annoying.



2. Include photo credits

Picture credits are more likely to be accurate (or exist at all) if the photographer’s name is right there in the caption. Although I would always include an email/document saying ‘please credit Jayne Lloyd’, it’s likely that in the future the two will be saved separately, so this gives a bit of backup. If someone wants to re-use your image they don’t have to hunt around to find out who took it, they can just see it in the filename. Time is short for most people so anything that makes the whole process quicker and easier is always appreciated by everyone involved!



3. Think about SEO

Yep, that mystical concept we all hope to achieve to get our website ‘seen’ can benefit from having descriptive titles, so I’d suggest adding a few keywords to images you’re putting up on your website/blog. Search engines can use this information when looking for relevant results for a query – it’s still not clear if they are use embedded metadata in searches, so including a few relevant keywords gives them something further to work with. ‘ Jayne_Lloyd_DocumentaryTravelPhotography_SingaporeWindowStars_3499’ might help my image show up for people searching for areas I’d like this image to be found for –  Documentary Photography, Travel Photography, Singapore/Window/Stars or for images taken by me! If there’s no text on the page with the image they can use the filename as the snippet in the search results too, which helps users. Find out more about Google’s recommendations here. Beware of putting too many keywords in though – search engines will penalise anyone ‘keyword stuffing’

I know it’s not always practical (sometimes you just have to get things sent out quickly!), and the recipient may well rename them, but it is a good idea to try when you can. Adobe’s Lightroom has a great way to make it really easy.



Extra tips:

– I try to avoid spaces and special characters in filenames – I usually replace them with ‘_’ to break up the words.

– I usually keep the number the camera adds to help me identify the image later, as that’s in my master file too.

– Don’t make the filenames too long – short and sweet is best but 255 characters absolute max.



Shutter Hub’s Jayne Lloyd shares tips like this in her monthly newsletter – sign up here to receive them!

All images: © Jayne Lloyd

See more of Jayne’s work on her Shutter Hub profile here.


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