I do not subscribe to the idea of more being better. I have a very limited interested in acquiring new software packages, or hardware devices. To that end I try to keep my digital image manipulation and management tools to a very basic set. Furthermore, I am a photojournalist and do not typically produce the high volume of images that sports, fashion and product photographers produce each day. Keeping this in mind, here is what I loaded on my white core 2 duo macbook.
iView MediaPro: this is an image management software application that I use for importing, annotating, naming, organizing, archiving, resizing, searching and distributing my digital images. To use this product effectively you must also have a very basic file organization strategy so that you know the follow:
- What folder should your RAW take of the day be downloaded to & how to name it to differentiate the folder from the previous day’s shoot and future downloads
- What are the naming conventions that you will consistently use for your RAW image files?
- Whether you wish to use the industry standard .DNG RAW format or leave your files in their .NEF (Nikon), CRW (Canon) or other vendor exclusive RAW file format.
For example, I will have a main folder called AJMER PROJECT. Under that folder I would have one called RAW IMAGES. Under that I would have folders for each individual day’s shoot and named appropriately using dates in the names e.g. AJMER SHOOT 10-07-2009, AJMER SHOOT 11-07-2009, AJMER SHOOT 12-07-2009 and so on. This way you now know where your RAW files are, and they are organized by the day the images were taken. Remeber that your RAW filles also need to be renamed once they have been imported and I again suggest names that reflect the day of the shoot e.g. ajmer_110709_001, ajmer_110709_002, ajmer_110709_003, ajmer_110709_004, ajmer_110709_005 etc. for all images shot on august 11th, 2009 for example.
iView Media Pro can then be used to create multiple ‘views’ into your RAW folders – 1 st selects, 2 selects, etc. so that the original files remain where they are, but you use the visual editor and its thumbnail links to move around and organize the files the way you wish to see them. All IPTC metadata updates to the images – captions, location details, copyright information etc. can be managed from within iView Media – make sure that you hit the ‘sync’ buttons once you have inputted the data otherwise the IPTC metadata details will not be updated to the original files!
Note, those of you shooting video and audio should also think about how to create a folder structure such that audio, video and image files that are related can be maintained and kept together. Naming conventions can be very critical when it comes to such matters.
The same concept applies as you work on your images and create your JPEG versions fter photoshop adjustments. Note, you can open your images from within iView Media Pro and import the image straight in to Photoshop or Gimp.. You can create a folder under the main project folder for your selected, JPEG images, leaving the names as they were so that you can retrieve the original RAW file should you need it, but of course change the .DNG/.NEF to .JPG.
You can of course read all about Digital Asset Management (DAM) from any one of a number of interesting books published on the subject. It can be a complex process and depends on your type of work and the different media types you are managing and creating.
NOTE: It appears that iView was bought by Microsoft (thank you Sara Terry for pointing this out to me!) and this product is now available as something called Microsoft Expressions. I have no idea how much of the original iView Media has been retained, however, you can probably find downloads for the original product on the internet. Send me a private email to ask how. Alternatively, if you are freaked out by Microsoft as I am, try Photo Mechanic, another product popular with professionals. Has pretty much all the same capabilities as iView and then some. Also, there is always iPhoto for those of you on Apple machines. And then of course there is blueMarine, a free open source photo workflow product. I am in fact experimenting with it as we speak as it does offer some very nice capabilities.
Photoshop CS4 Or GIMP; I don’t know how many of you know but GIMP is the Gnu Image Manipulation Program – a free image manipulation software that does most everything Photoshop does. Those of you looking to save cash and work with an excellent and reliable product can look in to this. I do use GNU, but I am a heavy Photoshop CS3 users because of my reliance on layers to carry out my image work. GNU handles them differently and I am still more comfortable with the Photoshop approach.
And that it it! I do all backups to extenal hard drives manually. And there may be some who would argue for a different approach, so be it. The key is that you are organized, that you can retrieve images from your archive efficiently. Feel free to create folder structures, naming conventions etc. that best suit your work and style. Just be consistent and do indeed keep it simple.
Aside: I do not use Lightroom or Aperture because I do not produce on any given day the volume of work that would justify the use of any one of these products. I am familiar with both and have so far preferred Lightroom because it seems to be a smaller, faster program. But again, I do not use these for my work. At least not yet.