How to Catalog your Architectural Photography

Architectural photography

Now with all our digital cameras we can take hundreds or thousands of pictures while traveling and visiting architecture and if they are not cataloged well how can you ever find anything or make use of all those great ideas and inspiration.  These are ways I have cataloged my architectural photography which have been helpful and made it easy to find what I need when I need it.

By location:

This is fairly easy – starting at a large scale and working our way to a smaller scale.  I begin with a folder of the country and then subfolders of each city and often within this folder I will also catalog by building if there are a significant amount of pictures.  It is nice to put the date after the tiles so if you return to that place the pictures are separated by date.  See example below

Main folder:  Japan – 2008.03

Subfolder:  Tokyo – 2008.03.05 to 2008.03.10

Sub-Subfolder:  Prada – 2008.03.08

Subfolder:  Tokyo – 2008.03.20 to 2008.03.22

Sub-Subfolder:  Mori Art Museum – 2008.03.20

Best of:

I always make a ‘Best of’ folder.  These are your best shots that can easily be turned into a slideshow in moments and don’t all have to be about architecture, I try to limit the photos in this folder to 200 maximum – this pushes the attention span of my audiences.  I usually upload these to Flickr or Picasa to share with friends and family in other cities.  This is just a great go to folder.

By Category:

If you use your architectural photography for other purposes such as work, like me, I recommend replicating these photos and placing them in folders by category.  Those quick snap shots can come in handy but if they are not organized by appropriate categories they will be hard to find and remember.  Here are some examples:

  • Architectural elements: ie. doors, staircase, windows
  • Architect
  • Building Type: ie. Museum, Office, Retail
  • Detail: ie. roof, cladding, materials,
  • Architectural Style


Picasa is free downloadable software by Google.  It makes viewing you photos easy.  The features are extensive, a few at the top of my list are:

  • photo editing
  • web albums which can be shared through the internet
  • keywords can be added to images which are later searchable
  • movie maker

Here is a quick 5min video to quickly learn the basic features (a bit dated but helpful for the basics)

Note:  Picasa 3.9 has removed the buttons to get them back just go to Tools > Configure Buttons and add them to the bottom

However you choose to organize your architectural photography do not forget to backup your pictures!  I have lost a lot of photos because I didn’t back up and it was devastating.

An organized GROUPIE is a happy one.

Visit a Modern and Contemporary Architecture Travel Guide

One comment

  1. Thank you for the advise. It’s a great thing to organize you pictures after a trip because it also helps you appreciate what you have seen after you have seen it. I often don’t grasp the full impact of where I have been until after I get back. This is a great exercise to help people realize and appreciate their tip even more.

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