I have been transferring gigabytes for weeks. It feels like a near Sisyphian task, moving mountains of data from one hard drive to another, while more pours out from the pipeline of my current shooting. I am still waiting for the day when this is a routine background task, and not the core of my working life.
Through my early months in digital, I vowed that I would make a clean start of my file organization. I failed. Or rather, I picked an organizational mode that didn’t work. File names that referenced content. A file heirarchy that stressed sequence above anything else. As I have jobs that span across several months of shooting, I ended up using the least reliable metadata system for finding stuff—my head.
About 6 weeks ago I got Peter Krogh’s book, The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers. It changed everything for me. Two weeks ago I attended an evening presentation by him, put on by our ASMP chapter.
My 600 gigabytes of RAW files are converted to DNG format and stored in a separate file server computer. So are about 180 gb of derivative files, all the tifs and psds and jpgs. I access it through a gigabit network, so the hard drives on it are as accessible and speedy as my local drives. During the transfer I suffered a major computer crash when I was downloading the data from one of my stored-on-the-shelf hard drives, which set me back about a week. This data transfer task is nearing completion. Everything I have ever shot digitally is immediately accessible now. I'm now making back-ups on hard drives that will live off-site.
I’m learning a new software program to manage all those files: Iview Media Pro. It is quickly becoming the cataloging program of choice for photographers. I wish to heck someone would write a book on how to use it. Peter devotes about half a chapter in The DAM Book to it (he says he’s working on the book I want). I downloaded and printed out the 144 page pdf manual, which is obtuse and in engineer-speak (is there a style sheet in circulation on how to make these things uniformly unintelligable?). I am making baby steps in figuring it out, and probably picking up inefficient habits I’ll have to break when I find out how I’m supposed to be doing it.
Here’s where I am so far. The most recent two months of work is imported, keyworded, and placed in catalog folders. It makes a nice analog to my current slide filing scheme, except that it doesn’t matter where the file itself lives. I make these catalog sets that point to the files. A given file can be in more than one catalog set, so I can have a given shot be in the "Portraits" file, or in the "Assignment: Rural Development Institute" file. I don’t know if my keywording scheme is the right way to go—it seems to be getting unwieldy.
Assignment work is in a lull at the moment, so I have the time to learn this stuff. It’s another steep pitch in the digital learning curve.