Joost van der Laan

Photography Workflow for Linux and MacOS

Joost van der Laan
#photography#workflow#linux#macos#digikam#darktable#rapid photo downloader#photo mechanic#lightroom#gimp#borg backup

Photography workflow for Linux and MacOS


  1. Importing – (Rapid Photo Downloader)
  2. Culling – Digikam (Photo Mechanic MacOS)
  3. Organizing – (Digikam)
  4. Editing – (Darktable/GIMP/Lightroom)
  5. Backup – (Borg backup)

An overview

First of all, you take photos with your camera. When you’re happy with the results, you want to import them to your computer to start the rest of the workflow discussed here. Preferably, at that point you already take a backup of the photos imported to your computer or keep them on your memory card, to make sure the photo’s are always available in 2 places. Nothing worse then loosing your best shots! After importing, you need to sort and organize the photos. Once that is done, the RAW files must be processed and edited. Done? Now’s a good time to share your pictures with your friends via cloud photo sharing services or maybe your own website gallery.

Let’s get started.

Import and Culling (sorting, picking, cleaning)

1. Importing

Rapid Photo Downloader is a Linux replacement for PhotoMechanic’s ingest and rename feature.

How you name your files is somewhat up to personal preference, as a wedding photographer might want different filenames then a travel photographer. There is good and bad practices in file naming, however.

Organise by date and location

My main folder structure goes like this:



If you are a travel photographer and want to go more detailed, you could use:


Example: 2021/2021-01-18_Netherlands_Amsterdam

Set with destination folder: Date and job code

For the file naming I use:

Year Month Day _ VANDERLAAN _ Job Code _ Random Sequence**

Which in Rapid Photo Downloader translates to:

<Image date (YYYYMMDD)>_VANDERLAAN_<Job code>_<Downloads today (One digit)>

<Video date (YYYYMMDD)>_VANDERLAAN_<Job code>_<Downloads today (One digit)>

Important! The last number should be a random sequence, to have unique photo numbers.




For every new import or partial import, you create a new job code or use a pre-existing one. Select the job code and import your photos at once.

Alternative file naming for travel

Year Month Day _ VANDERLAAN _ Country ISO Code _ Random Sequence**

Keep 2 copies at all times

You don’t want to lose photos.

After import, run Borg backup to make sure the pictures folder is backed up.

Digikam linux - a Linux tool for serious photographers

2. Culling (sorting, picking, rating and cleaning)

Once the photos are imported and renamed, I am going to start culling trough them. This means I work my way trough them one by one in Digikam.

Out of focus, blurry, or accidental shots are tagged to be deleted. I often already delete them on-camera when I see them.

If nobody will use or buy this photo, delete it.

Only the photos I think might be worth it, get 1 star, to inspect later on.

Be quick and use your instinct.

  1. Remove blurry, error, out of focus photos.
  2. 1 star for pictures that stand out on first look. Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-0...5

Digikam tagging shortcuts




Embedding Metadata & Tags

Add tags, geolocation. Tags in Digikam:

Country/Cuba, City/Havana, Trip/MexicoCuba

Go to: Captions > tags tab


IPTC vs. EXIF metadata

People working in media and news use IPTC metadata, which contains things like a description, keywords, credits and copyright information. This needs to be embedded in every photo to know the who, what, where of it.


Use Digikam.


3. Editing

Add photos to catalog (For using Lightroom or Darktable only)

If you want to use Lightroom (on MacOS) instead of Digikam, we now need to add the photos to the catalog. Be aware that Lightroom catalogs are not very portable & flexible, if you ever decide to use another tool then Lightroom. I like the software, but not the lock-in, therefore I don’t use it.

For Darktable, a Linux alternative to Lightroom, you need to import your photos here as well.

When using Digikam, you can skip this step.

Create collections & sets

Edit photos

Use your editor of choice to edit photos. There are tons of options here.

“Photography Cheat Sheet” by Michael Kanemoto is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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