I’ve been trying to figure out a good reliable system to manage my photographs – digital asset management (DAM) to use the lingo. My biggest issue is how to back up my photo archive, particularly since it’s not static. Many of my photographs are still a work in progress – as my photoshop skills improve I revisit old photographs to see whether I can reveal what I had originally intended when I tripped the shutter.
There are a number of great resources for this, check out Chase Jarvis’s video for an overview of how Chase approaches the problem. Peter Krogh’s DAM book is a must read and recently I’ve been reading through Ben Greisler’s ‘Photographer’s Guide to the Digital Lifecycle: Real-life workflow scenarios for managing still and motion photography assets‘
I have been using lightroom to both process and catalog my images. I now use multiple catalogs split by year to help improve the speed at which I can navigate through the catalog. My workflow when working at home is to import the photos from the memory card into lightroom. During the import the photos are named with my name and the date, my copyright information is added and I may add a generic keyword. I then do a quick edit to flag photos that will be deleted – those photos that are out of focus, a miss or generally junk and to find those that are my keepers. The keepers fall into 3 buckets: those that I will process as and when I get to them; those that are worked up in lightroom only and finally those that are worked on in both lightroom and photoshop.
I found that once I reached 50,000 images, navigating in Lightroom was a tedious process. This led me to split the archive up and so I now have lightroom catalogs based on the year, so 2005-2009, 2010, 2011. This keeps the number of images per catalog in a reasonable range. It also means that back-ups are relatively simple since each catalog is less that 1 TB I can have a mirrored copy on an additional external drive.
I am toying with the idea of a server in a secure location but that is something for the future. It’s not perfect but is evolving and with a little more thought I should have a bullet proof system.