Monday, June 18, 2007
Digital Asset Management
Keeping track of the images that pay the bills requires a foolproof system
Basic Workflow With A DAM System
To get the most from your new filing system, spend time planning how you use and find your images. Begin by deciding on a common naming scheme that makes sense to you. I store my RAW images in a folder with the date and subject as the name, such as “050601_bodie” for images shot at Bodie on June 1, 2005.
Both iView and Portfolio support direct import from a camera or memory card, but I find it best to use the Watch Folder option. This allows me to set up a master folder, which I named “Photo Transfer.” Any images placed in this folder are automatically added to the catalog. If you prefer to use your DAM to import files, I still recommend copying them to a standard location for the initial edits. One advantage to doing the transfer from within the DAM is that keywords and other metadata can be added at the time of import as well as image renaming. This is ideal if all of the images in the file are of the same event or subject type, such as a wedding.
After importing and renaming, I archive all the images to a backup hard drive and to DVD or CD. This is insurance against either a failure or, more commonly, accidentally deleting a file. Both iView and Portfolio have the ability to back up to all of these media options.
The next step is to review the imported images and delete the poor ones. Both applications have a slideshow function that works well for viewing images interactively and in much more detail than the standard thumbnail view, allowing you to delete or tag the files as you go.
After narrowing down the list to the keepers, it's time to add keywords, rate images and organize them into collections or groups of similar subjects.
Like file-naming schemes, the important thing with keywords is to be consistent and to use a set of keywords that makes sense to you. Adding more keywords helps to reduce the number of images found to just the ones you're looking for. As an example, for images taken on a job photographing Coca-Cola executives in Atlanta, I'd use the following keywords: Coca-Cola, executives, Atlanta, portrait and the name of the individual. This gives me a number of options when searching. I can use any combination of these keywords to return only the specific image I need out of hundreds. I've added custom fields for my use that track whether an image is licensed, who's using it and how much revenue it's generating.
Once you have these basic steps completed, you're ready to edit in Photoshop or any other image application that you use. Portfolio has a feature called Portfolio Express that's essentially a mini-palette application that can be used to drag and drop your image into any application.
The final step in my workflow is to burn another backup copy of the remaining images to DVD. I use the Contact Sheet feature in both applications to print thumbnails that are stored with the DVD for future reference.
If I know that I won't be needing these images for a while, I'll have the program update the location when the DVD is burned. This keeps a thumbnail in the browser, but updates the location information on the source file. When I need the file again, iView or Portfolio will prompt me to insert the correct disc to retrieve the image.
Keeping The Customers Happy
As pro shooters, we need to keep our customers happy, of course. That means quick turnaround times and easy-to-browse images. Both applications have several features to help you in this area, including a free viewer program that you can send out on CD with images and an extensive selection of web page templates that can quickly build an online photo gallery. Both iView and Portfolio offer the option of sending only a low-resolution image or including the full-size, high-quality file.
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