Photography Tip: Digital Asset Management

In the history of my adult life I have read ONE technical manual. You might not even classify Peter Krogh’s The DAM Book as a technical manual but I do. You see this book deep-dives into the darkness and mystery of “Digital Asset Management,” or in other words “What we do with our images.”

Digital photography changed the core DNA of photography itself, and one of the changes digital brought was the amount of images the typical shutterbug created over a given time. What we do with these images, how we label and rank them, where we put them and how we find them has also changed. The photographer without a plan is a photographer walking a dangerous line of making images they can no longer utilize or even find. The days of negatives in file cabinets have been replaced with stacks and stacks of hard drives.

As many of you know, I make A LOT of books and magazines. People ask how I find the time to do this, and my first response is always “I have a system in place,” and that system starts with my images. Although I don’t follow Peter’s advice to the letter, he’s far more advanced; I do have a system in place, which allows me to quickly access images for bookmaking.

Digital photography changed the core DNA of photography itself, and one of the changes digital brought was the amount of images the typical shutterbug created over a given time.

Each time I complete a shoot, regardless of size, I label, rank, export and archive my images in the exact same way. Personally, I use a year/month/day style of label, use the star keys to rank and when I export I create three different sizes of each image, in three different folders. These sizes include a web size, a printable, 8×10 size and finally a large archive TIFF file. When I need an image I don’t want to have to find the image, correct the image and then export. I want finished, polished images ready to go at all times. When I do my conversions I only want to do them once and never again unless I’ve got a strange or unique need. (Like a 40×60 print.)

The days of negatives in file cabinets have been replaced with stacks and stacks of hard drives.

So when I open Blurb Bookwright and select my book size, paper and cover type I then hit the “+” button under photos and know that the images I have on ready are perfect and ready to go to print. All I have to do is design. This saves me a tremendous amount of time but also allows for more enjoyable bookmaking.

When I think about bookmaking I think about the process in three parts. Pre-book, book and post-book. In other words, what images do I need to make or utilize, what book do I want to make and what do I want to do with that book? Being organized with your images is the first step toward being able to create publications in a more fluid, fun way.

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