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Thread: Organizing Digital Photo Libraries

  1. #1

    Organizing Digital Photo Libraries

    I'm starting this thread as the subject came up in another thread with this very typical question from Biffom...

    I have > 20,000 photos in iphoto. After several upgrades (Machine, OS and iPhoto) my photos in iphoto are in a terrible mess. Along the way I seem to have managed to generate tons of duplicates. Photo stream seems to make matters worse....
    For many of us in the image creating business this is a constant worry, as software systems come and go. I've had the advantage of being an observer of the problems, and expenses that this has caused numerous labs, magazines and photographers, and my own personal solution is to go for absolute simplicity and avoid any software based image library system at all. Instead I use a super simple file based system.

    Here is a quick look at how I arrange things on the server, in the Z8 library all the major events have their own top level folders, while each year also has a folder for all the other smaller things that happen in that year. In my world of work everything is listed alphabetically. It takes me just seconds to access anything, and I never have to worry about software obsolescence.
         
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  2. #2
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Andrew, this is similar to what I do for the same reason. This way Im not bogged down by any one software platform.

  3. #3
    Sport Button On - DSC Off raka's Avatar
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    Andrew brings up a very valid point - if you rely on a catalog app to organize your library, and then lose your catalog, you lose your file organization.

    Backups can help, but corruptions that don't get noticed until too late can get you - as does companies that go under (or discontinue apps).

    Even if you have a catalog, you still need to decide on a folder scheme on your HD, with some good examples already shown in this thread.

    A tip to to keep in mind when creating your HD scheme is to think of one where each image have a single main logical home. (e.g., having top level folder for each member of your family can become problematic when trying to file group photos), which is why date, event, location, or project based groupings usually work the best.

  4. #4
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    Family and friends pics go into "Family" folder and then go by date. Car pics go into "Automobile" folder with the same convention. Thats how I avoid it. If I have pics with both- I make copies. Space is cheap.

  5. #5
    I just compiled all of my digital photos from multiple computers onto one hard drive (30,000 images) with a cloud server backup (box.com), so I'm ready for serious organizing! Any other words of wisdom before I take the next steps to organize this mess?
    My Best,

    Ed

    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red

  6. #6
    Sport Button On - DSC Off raka's Avatar
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    Hi Ed,


    here are a few things that worked for me, good luck!


    - priority number 1: offsite backups! glad to see you have that covered. also be sure to test it every so often to make sure images DO get backed up & ARE recoverable. i use backblaze ($5/month for 3TB) that does continuous automatic trickle backup offsite.


    - simplify - the more apps you use the more hassles you'll have with incompatibilities, learning curves, upgrades breaking things, etc. i find Lightroom does a totally acceptable job of ingesting, cataloging, keywording, and processing images. for heavy lifting, compositing, etc. you may still need Photoshop. Even better, Lightroom is not part of Adobe's 'pay for life subscription' model. and runs on PC and Mac (Apple Aperture a similar app, but Mac only)


    - even if you DO use a catalog tool, make sure you still create a logical folder structure on your HD with a single logical place for each image to make retrieval easy. if you're nervous about the catalog housing your processing steps, you can export your processed images as physical processed files for added security. btw, if you're nervous about the catalog holding your tagging, keywording, etc., you can set it to automatically imbed these into your actual images' IPTC fields (i don't do this, btw)


    - one single top folder on 1 disk for all images if possible (the more you deviate from this, the trickier your backup strategy etc. will become with stuff all over the place)


    - try to mark you selects, and delete (or tag) the flops as when you import (or soon after) - if not, you'll soon fall behind & it will become a more daunting task


    - your usage will dictate your DAM strategy: project base stuff (let's say you're a wedding photographer) will become static after delivery & can be segregated, as opposed to 'your life' (family, etc.), that need to stay on tap, as it will be relevant long term


    - if you DO go the extra step of keywording, tagging, rating, etc., make sure you do it to meet YOUR needs (some folks tag their own images at the level used by stock agencies, which is a waste of time - and invariably they abandon the effort at some time).

  7. #7
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    This is fantastic advice. Well done!

  8. #8
    Thank you for the additional guidance! I learned a few new terms too (Digital Asset Management).

    I'm taking from the above posts that I need to carefully consider the folder hierarchy before starting the Execution phase in sorting through the images. I have PSE11 Organizer on my Mac, but I am open to Lightbox or Aperture if these apps are superior.
    My Best,

    Ed

    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red

  9. #9
    I've never used or had any interest in either of those softwares as they don't do anything I need. I keep it super simple only using two image programs for all my work; Preview (with is an awesome editing tool) and Photoshop, that's it. You can see how I file and organize everything above.

    For work I always keep every image taken on the shoot day, but for Z8 material I edit at the end of the day, junking all the images I know I'll never need, and since I'm shooting blind from the car, that's a lot.

    I create two folders, one for low rez JPGs on the desktop. I then use Preview to edit the low rez files, deleting any images I don't want (with a simple command-delete).
    I then color code whats left, and put it into the high rez folder, which makes it easy to match the edit with it's raw counterpart. Everything else gets deleted, but I don't empty the thrash until I'm sure it's all gone correctly.

    Hope that helps.
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  10. #10
    Z8Mania
    Guest
    I do something very similar to Andrew. I dont get in for all the key tagging etc. But I do make copies to import into Aperture which I use like an iPhoto + software. Its 64 bit vs iPhoto which is 32. And it makes it easy to get images into my iDevices. I dont use it for editing but I do make albums. I keep it real easy and everything is dated Year, Month, Day and a brief description. So I could find "2013, 10, 10 Z8 meet".........

  11. #11
    Thanks again for the above advice! As a first cut, I'm putting the images in folders based on chronological order. Then I'm drilling down into the next level folders based on topics such as: @Home, Events, Holidays, Trips, etc. I'm reviewing the images in Preview, discarding the "rejects" and then once I'm back in the original folder, right clicking on the set of images for archiving for bundling in a folder around a specific topic, for example Danville Concours. So the folder structure is: 2012, Cars, Danville Concours. Easy! In addition to removing the rejects, I'm discarding duplicates that were stored in multiple locations.
    My Best,

    Ed

    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red