How to upload and organize photos to the cloud like a pro

Follow our step-by-step guide for professional photographers on how to upload and organize photos to the cloud.

Jul 09, 2021
Woman sitting on couch looking at laptop screen

You probably already know that having a well-organized and accessible photo library makes working with clients a lot easier, especially if you store everything in the cloud. It's a whole other story to put those good intentions into action, especially when you're on a tight deadline. Luckily, uploading and organizing digital images with cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, is as easy as moving the files off your camera onto your computer. The key to success is staying organized from start to finish.

Store photos in the cloud

The most basic way to utilize cloud storage is to treat it like an external hard drive that you can access anywhere, from any device. Just save your photos into a folder that lives online. Whether it's on Dropbox or another cloud storage service, you'll be able to access and share your images without having to carry around a bulky external hard drive.

Upload your camera roll automatically

An even easier way to make sure all of your photos are stored securely on the cloud is to set up camera uploads. When enabled, your photos are automatically added to the cloud when you plug in your camera, SD card, smartphone, or tablet. Camera uploads automatically renames files to yyyy-mm-dd hh.mm.ss.jpg—based on EXIF data—when copying to Dropbox. It is essential to have your organization structure in place before you start utilizing camera uploads, so it's not a giant, overwhelming mess when you make selects.

Organize your photo library like a pro

Professional photographer workflows differ depending on budget and technology. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran with a large budget or an up-and-comer with your first camera, you should tailor the way you organize your photo library to your specific needs.

Folder and photo naming

Unlike average users, photographers are frequently uploading hundreds of photos at a time. It’s too time-consuming to rename each photo. Also, since you’ll be editing many of the images, maintaining the default image name or the name automatically given when you use camera uploads is helpful for continuity between versions.

It is crucial to set up a consistent folder naming convention and stick to it. A good place to start is with core folders broken down by year housing subfolders within by month. In those subfolders, you could do client names and then the titles of specific jobs.

For example: 2019 > 08-2019 > Ortiz > Wedding Ceremony

Within each job, you can add more subfolders for different days, locations, people, etc. The final and very important subfolder is for your selects. Most likely, this is going to be the folder you share with your clients during the review cycle, so you need to ensure you can always find it and it only contains images that you want to share.

You can even add searchable hashtags to your photos so you can find what you need—fast. Use tags like #summer or #2021 on individual pics or the whole folder to catalog important projects. 

RAW vs. JPEG - Should you store everything in the cloud?

RAW files (.CR3 for Canon, .ARW for Sony, .NRW for Nikon, just to name a few) are between 20 MB and 40 MB an image. JPEGs are between 2 MB and 15 MB. If you don’t have a lot of space available on cloud storage service, one shoot's worth of RAW images could take up all your storage. Only uploading the JPEGs could save you a lot of space. There is a downside—JPEG files aren't as high quality, and sharing them could lead to generation loss.

Everything online always

If you have plenty of cloud storage space, it makes the most sense to keep all of your images stored online. That way, you can avoid the hassle and access them from any device without having to worry about which computer or hard drive you saved them on. You also have the benefit of not needing to separate RAW, JPEG, or selects to save space. Everything is right where you need it all the time.

Dropbox allows you to preview over 30 different image file types, including most RAW files. You can preview Adobe files right in the browser without exporting or any special software. You can even have Lightroom and Photoshop automatically sync all of your photos to the cloud.

Bring it all together in Dropbox

Now that you know how to get everything uploaded and organized, you’re going to need plenty of secure and reliable cloud storage for all of your photos. Dropbox Professional comes with 3 TB of storage and other helpful tools.

Take your photography to the next level.

Explore Dropbox Professional