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.