There are many schemes that can be used to
organize your image files. I have found that simpler is better. Let me share my method for your consideration. I create a folder for an entire year. Inside that folder, I create (surprise) twelve folders, one for each month. They are labeled with the year first so that they sort into the proper order (e.g., “2011-06”). Adding the zero keeps things tidy, with months having only one digit taking up the same space as months with two. All photos taken in a month are stored within that one folder. I sometimes shoot as much as 4-5,000 images in a month, but they all go within that one folder. If I do take a significant amount of pictures of one subject or a special trip, I may create a subfolder inside the month labeled with that subject. That doesn’t happen very often. This keeps everything chronological and surprisingly easy to locate.
I am also using Adobe Lightroom, which is a database program, so locating a specific image through key wording is easier done via that program. I don’t change the image names from the original name given to it by the camera when I download them to the computer. After editing a photo in a photo editing program, I may change the name - but I will always include the number of the image that was given to the original file. For example, “Osprey_2114,” so that I can easily find the original file.
So, what are the advantages to this system? Well, for one, it becomes like a visual diary. I can look back over several years and see exactly where I was on a particular day. It has settled some arguments about when a specific event occurred. But, that is just an aside. A real advantage is simplicity. There is no time spent renaming files, which has the potential for being time-consuming. So, there is no need to remember what you renamed files. Everything, including the individual image files, sort out chronologically instead of some arbitrary order based on an image name. Admittedly, this system works because specific files can be located in Lightroom using key words. Windows Explorer is capable of showing the actual images, so the files can be viewed with this native program. Explorer can even show images in RAW format.