File Naming in Adobe Lightroom

When using Lightroom to export your photos, there are a ton of options to adjust the dimensions, file format, and color space. Today, I just want to focus on the File Naming section.

Yvette Young, of the band Covet, performing at Brooklyn Made in 2022

By default, Lightroom will keep the filename you used when importing the photos, but maybe that doesn’t work well for you. It is very likely that your client won’t want to look for “DSC123” when they need to pull up an image. In the context of music photography, you may need to add context to your photos like the location or specific moments of an event. If you’d like to customize the filenames, there are ways to streamline the process. Under the File Naming section of the Export dialog window, you can check the box marked “Rename To” and then select “Edit…” from the dropdown menu.

The File Naming menu

After that, you should notice a new dialog window called “Filename Template Editor” and it gets pretty robust from here. You can build a filename structure using the properties of the photo. Select the attribute from one of the dropdown menus and click “Insert” to add it. I won’t go into every option but here are some of the options that I find useful:

Image Name

  • Filename - The name of the file at the time of import. 
  • Original filename - The name of the file as it was created by your camera. If you change the names of your photos when importing, this will show the original name. Otherwise, it serves the same purpose as Filename.
  • Copy name - If you are working with virtual copies, this will add the copy number. For example, your first virtual copy would display “Copy 1.” This will not display anything for photos with no virtual copies, or for the original image used to make virtual copies.

Sequence and Date

  • Sequence # - This adds a number to the filename. This can be padded with 0-3 zeros. When you add this to your filename, “Start Number” will be added to the File Naming menu. This can be handy if you’re going to export photos and add them to an existing group. If you’ve already exported photos 1-10, for example, you can start the number at 11 for the next batch to avoid accidental overwriting.
  • Date - Adds the date the image was taken, and you can specify a variety of different ways to express the date.

Metadata (my personal favorite) - This uses metadata that you enter on the Library module 

  • Title - The title you provide for the photo. I use this one often.
  • Caption - The caption you have entered for the photo.
  • City, State/Province, Country/Region - Adds location data. This must be added to the Metadata panel beforehand.
  • Dimensions - The original, uncropped dimensions of the photo, in pixels. 
  • Cropped - The cropped dimensions of the photo, in pixels. Useful if you’re exporting the same photo in multiple aspect ratios.
  • Make, Model - The brand and model of the camera used to take the photo. Note that this will may not always produce the name you expect. For example, my Nikon Z 6II appears as “NIKON Z 6_2”

You can also add text before or after any of the attributes to create prefixes, suffixes, or separators for your filename. For example, if I’d like to have the date, title, and sequence number separated by underscores, I can do that by typing an underscore between each attribute.

The Filename Template Editor

Once you’ve got your filename template set the way you’d like, click on the Preset dropdown and select “Save Current Settings as New Preset…” which will allow you to give your preset a name. Type in the name, click “Create,” and you’re done!

Using Format