Sorry for the TL;DR

I am desperately trying to find a solution which satisfies all my needs and I cannot find any. All my googling showed answers for the different questions then I am interested in.

The question is about how to organize your photo collections properly.

Everyone now have digital cameras and smartphones which produce big amount of photos. If we don't organize them properly we will never be able to find anything. And this is just a waste of space.

I tried many approaches and tools. I will tell what I have now and please

Recently I used to keep photos using the following folder structure

Photos\1990. Very first photos

Photos\2013-01-10. Some event

Photos\2013-01-10. Some other event happened the same day

Photos\2013-03-06 – 03-20. Some long running event such as vacation

Photos\2014-02-10. Some other event

Photos\2014-02-11. Yet another event


  • Easy search by a specific event or date.

  • Sorted chronologically


  • Older photos are always on top, you have to scroll down all the time. When I used SkyDrive as my cloud backup, I had to scroll to the bottom and wait all the time since it loads top folders data first.

  • Incredibly difficult to watch photos from different folders. You have to switch between different folders manually.

Recently I tried to google better approaches and found more nested.

Photos\2014\2014-02\2014-02-11. Some event description\Photo1.jpg


  • Less top-order folders, so no scrolling required, generally faster.


  • Even deeper structure. Two watch photos from 2013-12-31 and 2014-01-01 you'll need to change four folder levels: two times up, two times down...

That's all plain approach – just folder structure.

Let's talk about software solutions.

I tried different ones and probably the best one I found is Google Picasa which I thought I will make my choice of preference.


  • Face recognition

  • Tagging

  • Integration with Google+


  • Keeps metadata inside image files. If you add extra tag to 1000 photos you will need to reupload that 1000 photos. I want to metadata to be stored separately. It should be reasonably small, so I can just upload metadata changes.

  • Metadata is somehow highly coupled with the system. I saved Picasa metadata from ApplicationData, then reinstalled Windows. But after that all my face recognition metadata gone.

  • Metadata does not seem to be compatible with Google+ metadata.

  • Could not find a way to search photos that has Tag1 AND Tag2. For me only Tag1 OR Tag2 worked.

Cloud storage

So far I tried SkyDrive and Google Drive (with integration to Google+)

SkyDrive cons:

  • Seems to be very slow, I uploaded my 70 Gb archive for more than 3 weeks on my reasonably fast ADSL2+

  • It was somehow losing its cache and tend to resync whole 70 Gb twice!!!

Google+ cons:

  • Does not support nested albums.

  • You cannot tag a person if it does not have an email. To tag my one-year-old son I used Leonid.Naumov@fakeemail.com, but this just looks ridiculous. Moreover Google+ doesn't remember emails if you don't have a person in your circles so "IntelliSense" for next photos won't work.

And the last bit I'll explain why I worry about nested folders.

As I described before I am ok with flat structure now. But for "legacy" photos from old times where I don't have EXIF information, they look something like









And I have no idea how to reasonbly flatten up such structure.

I described the issues I have and I willing to see how you smart geeks and nerds deal with similar problems.

Here is the list of "requirements" I have but feel free to criticize them or propose a new one

  • Face recognition

  • Quick search base on dates, events, faces and tags

  • Support complex queries like select all photos made in July 2013, made in Ashfield, contains ((myself and my wife and my baby) or (my friend))

  • Local storage with cloud mirror

  • All meta information should be stored externally, not in the EXIF tags. Otherwise, if you add extra tag to 1000 photos you will need to reupload that 1000 photos. But instead you have to just upload changes to your metadata, which should be reasonably small.

And one bonus question about video: I have DVD with this AUDIO_TS and VIDEO_TS folders. If I convert it to mp4 I'll lose some additional materials including menus. Is there a reasonable way to keep everything without DVD format? Ideally it should be just mp4 files (to be able to upload it and watch online) with some additional metadata file which allows me to view with menu if needed.

Regards, Michael Naumov

  • FYI: picasa has hidden files (picasa.ini) in each folder containing pictures. This is why you have the fail after re-install, the old values didn't match the database. – cybernard Feb 11 '14 at 5:33
  • I think that you need to break this into several questions. Certainly break out the cloud storage question. There are a couple of possible candidates that might be helpful there. – Julian Knight Feb 11 '14 at 8:27

This is can be a locally hosted web based gallery. It typically uses Apache for the web server and mysql for the database.


You there are plugins for this project. You may be able to find a cloud plugin.


Although it stores its data in a mysql database it is possible to dump the contents into text files.

It would be possible to even write your own plug-in, if you have the skills.

I personally use this and picasa for 20,000+ my pictures.

exiftool --ee dsc10001.jpg >whatever.txt will dump exif data to a text file.

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