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Book Review: Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle by Ben Greisler

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With the growing amount of digital images that a photographer can collect — both still and video — the necessity to manage this data become ever so more important with each passing technology enhancement. The goal of Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle is to help you organize and process your data in a way that protects it from the ages – all the way from the time of conception to the point of archiving it.

This book was created for those who create or manage content that is stored as digital files. It is aimed at all levels of creative from beginners to advanced users. And although it contains the word photographer in the title, it really is meant for artists of all disciplines. Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle is 312 pages in length and is contained in eight chapters.

Chapter One, “A Starting Point,” provides an overview of the author’s experience as well as a brief history of his photographic background. It also asks and answers several questions about the digital lifestyle as well as laying out the basic structure of one.

Chapter Two, “Planning Your Creative Workflow,” starts off by outlining your goals and identifying the various aspects that may impact it. This chapter will help you build a plan by determining your situation and needs. Next you build your workflow, determine what tools you will need, and figure out what kind of capacity you need to have to be successful.

Chapter Three, “Organizing the Ingest Process,” looks at the process of getting your data from capture to storage. This begins with the getting it from the primary (capture) device, to a secondary one — usually your computer, but sometimes to a temporary storage device before the computer. Then it looks at creating naming conventions, automating processes, and the use of a data asset management (DAM) software such as Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom for managing your data.

Chapter Four, “Understanding Storage and Server Solutions,” examines types of devices in which you can store your data. These include solid state devices like memory cards, disk drives, tape, external enclosures, raid devices, servers, and Network attached storage (NAS).

Chapter Five, “Implementing a Backup Plan,” describes a necessity, since you have everything being stored and you don’t want to lose it to a hardware failure or other disaster. The first thing discussed, is exactly what a backup is and then you are treated to ten reasons your backup will fail. From here, you will see what it takes to build a backup plan, choosing hardware, software, how to implement it, and testing your backup plan.

Chapter Six, “Archiving Your Assets,” concerns the storing of material for future use and/or reference. From the prospective of a digital creative, archiving is what you do to your data when you have no immediate use for it, but you don’t want to dispose of it. This chapter will examine what should be archived, and how it should be done.

Chapter Seven, “Recovering Your Data,” is a necessity that will have to happen at some time since there will come a time when you will lose data. This chapter looks at how to recognize a data loss situation and how best to remedy that to get your data back.

Chapter Eight, “Understanding Digital Asset Management Tools,” describes how best to use these tools in your situation. This chapter looks at defining the key attributes of DAM, the tools that you have at your assistance and how to implement them into your workflow.

The Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle is a good thorough book that comes more from the perspective of an information technology stand point rather than from a pure photography perspective. Even though your photographs and videos are forms of art, they are still data, so this perspective is not a bad thing. It becomes even more important the more you collect and the larger the files become.

Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle is well written and follows a natural progression from capture through the archiving process. While the book provides everything you need to create a successful workflow, parts of it may prove to be a bit over ambitious for a small studio that plans on staying small. But if you are planning on growing, especially growing large, then Photographer’s Guide To The Digital Lifecycle will provide everything you need to ensure your data stays safe into the future, and it is for those that I can easily recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.