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Book Review: The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management For Photographers by Peter Krogh

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When I was doing film photography, it was hard to keep everything recorded and cataloged in a manner that would allow quick access to individual shots. My perception of the digital revolution was that it would be easier to maintain and manage my photos because, after all, they can be computerized. Boy was I wrong!

The problem was not so much with the idea that digital can be computerized, but rather in the fact that when I was shooting film, I would shoot rolls of 12, 24 or 36 shots. I would shoot one, two or three rolls and that would be that; maybe 75 or 100 shots. Now, with digital, I can shoot 100, 200 or 300 shots without a thought.

For each shot I now have both a raw file and a JPEG. Sure, I get a lot more garbage shots as well as those once-in-a-lifetime shots that I may have missed before, but they are still assets I have to manage. Through trial and error I have come up with my own way to manage assets, but with Peter Krogh's The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers I have found new and better ways to process my images.

The DAM Book provides a roadmap and directions to creating a system that works. The author’s primary focus is on Adobe Photoshop CS2 and iView Media Pro by Microsoft, and if you are using one or both of these tools this book becomes a user's manual. If you are not using either of these tools, it will still provide you with a starting point for what is needed to create your own workflow using the tools you have available. Myself, I use Photoshop, but not iView, and I have found this book enormously helpful.

The book is segmented into nine chapters. There is an introduction to digital asset management. Krogh then moves into the topics of metadata, information structure, hardware configuration, Adobe Bridge, workflow, cataloging software, derivative files and file migration.

In the chapter on Metadata, the author does a great job of describing his method of rating photos, the use of keywords, and the rating pyramid. He points out that when you are rating your photos, you are really building a foundation for the future. Sure you may only have a couple hundred or thousand photos now, but in two years or five years that may become a couple of hundred thousand. And when you are looking for that just right photo, you will be glad you cataloged today. Another note about this book: just about every photo in the book is captioned with the author’s keywords. It makes it nice when you can look at how another photographer keys their photos.

In a further chapter, the one on information structure, Krogh provides a method of storing files within your computer system. It is a simple and straightforward method of collecting your data in a meaningful way so that it is easy to access and retrieve your files when you need them. He calls them buckets and in reality that is what they are. As time goes on, you can combine buckets or you can separate buckets as your needs arise.

All of the chapters have something to offer. In the Bridge chapter, you are led through a method of preparing your images. In the Cataloging chapter, you are introduced to the world of cataloging software, how to evaluate and use the software. In this chapter he refers back to Metadata and how this interacts with, if you excuse my pun, the whole DAM business.

There are some things the author uses that I am not completely sold on, such as his file-naming, and his massive network storage. But like everything else, Krogh is explaining how he has accomplished the task of asset management and you are free to use his advice as guidance and adapt it as you see fit.

It does not matter if you are a seasoned professional or dedicated amateur – there is something for you here. I would recommend this book if you are finding yourself overwhelmed by a growing catalog of photos and feeling overwhelmed by what it takes to manage them. If you are a professional photographer or are just starting out, you will find value in this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

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