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Managing Your Photographic Legacy: Part 2

In all the years I was traveling and giving talks to photo groups on Adobe products and end-to-end digital workflows, the number of photographers I met who had truly developed a rational system for managing their digital library was very small. In retrospect, this isn’t all that surprising, given the sea change photographers were experiencing trying to make sense of the new workflows that digital capture had forced upon us. The more you were shooting, it seemed, the more likely your digital asset management was going to be underwater.

While trying to evangelize the benefits of an end-to-end workflow, I discovered that in the search for a magic bullet, many photographers actually believed that a cataloging or library program could or should automatically organize them, without first building a logical workflow that started with a simple organization scheme in the operating system.

My system is based on the premise that I explained in my previous article in the December 2009 issue of DPP, “Managing Your Photographic Legacy, Part I.” The premise is that the goal of the library is to provide the most obvious and straightforward organizational scheme possible, and that the resulting archive has the greatest chance of being readable and accessible for you and for generations to come. That article also lays the groundwork for separating objective metadata from the subjective, and why I feel that subjective metadata belongs in your daily working catalog or catalogs, and probably not as the structural basis of the library or archive itself. We’ll have more on this distinction in a moment. Here are the broad strokes on the five steps:

Pictures flow first from your camera to a local hard drive for editing and immediately to a scratch, or backup, drive. Finished shoots are copied to your Working Library drive or RAID, then from there to your Archive Library device.


Step 1: Create your Working Library drive with a file system organization that’s based on objective metadata about each shoot.

Step 2: Create an entire backup drive as a duplicate of your Working Library drive. This becomes your Archive Library drive. Label it as such.

Step 3: Download your daily shoots to your local hard drive, and make a backup.

Step 4: Push your finished shoots from your local hard drive to your Working Library drive.


Step 5: Push your entire Working Library (or just shoots that have been modified, and your updated master catalog), to your Archive Library drive on a frequent basis.

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