If you’re interested, here’s how I organize my media. Since one of your goals is to make people easier to locate, my method might give you some ideas.
First, I store media by macroscopic categories. Within those categories, there may be sub-categories. For example, in the Census folders, there are further subs for year. See screen cap:
For the media themselves, I name them by what the source is. Using Census as an example again, the typical filename goes from largest to smallest component.
Now, here’s where the people come in. You’ll notice they aren’t part of the filename. Instead, they are added as properties of the file … metadata. Specifically, they are added as names in the ‘Subject’ field, separated by a semicolon. I can add as many as I need to, even if there are multiple households on a page that are relevant.
I’ve added the Subject column in Windows Explorer so that I can see them at a glance.
But I can also use the Explorer search feature to find them, even if the file is in a sub-directory at a lower level. Side note: In the Search field, the search parameter is formed by entering in the field name and text value, separated by a colon.
For women I also add their maiden name in (), so that a search for their family surname would return them as well.
You’ll see in the screen cap below that I did a search for ‘McCain’ across my entire collection of Federal Census images.
Caveats & considerations:
- Moving a file between two Windows computers will retain the property values. Example: If your hard drive crashes, but you have a backup, you can restore the files and still have the property values.
- I don’t know if the property values are retained if you move a file between a Windows and Mac computer. I have no experience with Apple devices.
- If you use a cloud storage service, you probably won’t be able to see the property values in their web-based interface. Example: I use Google Drive sync and cannot view the property values through their web interface. But the values are still there and visible via Windows Explorer.
- This method works for media files such as images and videos, as well as MS Word .doc files. It doesn’t work for filetypes .txt or .PDF.