Name images on import or export in LR?

Greetings- new fella here. Fast question-
I will be spending 2021 photographing and converting in LR several thousand negatives.
The negatives are in total disarray and span years.
Question: Would it be best to give them a name upon import or name them after conversion and export?

Thank you,

Welcome to the forum, @outsideandy .

Quite a task ahead of you… and you might want to first establish what you’re after in view of asset management (finding the stuff again in a few years…)

  • Do I really want to get rid of the disarray?
  • How much effort am I willing to put into sorting, keywording etc?

I do the following

  • per film (or box of slides) take the shots and add one shot of the film base or the backlight for separation
  • copy the shots into folders that reflect the shots main content
  • make Lightroom read the new folders and shots
  • add keywords (often per film, individual images as needed)
  • make a backup
  • start batch converting along the hints given in the guide

Sometimes, negatives are unevenly exposed on my films (unmetered exposures) which makes batch conversion produce less than optimal results for a few images. These image can be re-converted individually, simply un-convert before re-converting.

Now, if your negatives are way out of anything that resembles some logic, simply do as above, set whatever folder name you like, e.g. Batch 01, Batch 02 etc. You can always sort the shots later in Lightroom, or leave them where they are, which means that you’ll solely rely on keywords.

Rename the files? I’d not do it.

Just to add on to @Digitizer 's answer, you should also check out the section on using film metadata in Lightroom with Negative Lab Pro.. (And in addition to the Negative Lab Pro metadata, the metadata already built in to Lightroom is excellent, too.)

Once you learn how to use metadata, this is an excellent want to help sort and organize a large collection.

Hope that helps!


Thank you for the response. I do have my work cut out, but it will be a rewarding gift for my family this holiday season. You guidance is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for the additional guidance. Must appreciation for the quick reply-

I would definitely do a Lightroom preset to change your filenames on import to something semi-understandable. I use one that basically gives a prefix (mine is CSFA for my archive name) plus TEMP plus the sequence of import number. Once I convert, process, tag, and assess the photos, I run another preset to give the files their final name (usually CSFA plus a Record Group Name plus a Sequence Number. The Record Group is tied to the name I give to the box/bag/envelope of the originals plus their storage folder on my computer. In that way, each frame is tied to a physical location and a computer folder. Plus, if you run a search for files with TEMP in the name, you’ll instantly find those with processing remaining.