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New Year's Resolution / Get Control of your Digital Assets!

2012-01-11 17:56:00 GMT

Part 1 of 2

Happy New Year! Today’s blog post is all about helping our users find a digital photography workflow that will help them gain better control over their digital image assets.

Getting organized is cited as one of the Top 10 New Year’s resolutions made by Americans year after year, according to the National Association of Professional Organizers,  who have proclaimed January as GO (Get Organized) Month.

In the 21st century, getting organized no longer applies to just those things that are right in front of us - our overflowing drawers and cabinets, our messy garages and our piled-high counter and desktops - but also the gigabytes and gigabytes of data stored in our computers and the ways we work with that data. Just because something is out of sight doesn’t mean it isn’t out of control!

With image processing workflows that need to handle batches of hundreds of images, and libraries that can run to tens of thousands of files, digital photography workflow is something can make or break a professional photographer.  Knowing that it’s the time spent out in the field shooting that pays the rent, the pro photographers in our midst work constantly to improve and streamline their workflows to develop a highly individualized process that produces quality results at maximum speed and efficiency.  That’s why ACDSee photo editing and management software has never constrained the user to a specific process, and instead  gives the individual photographer a range of options for rating, tagging, storing, and generally moving images through the process and off to filing and/or publishing.  This flexibility lets ACDSee users customize a workflow according to their unique needs and preferences.

For the professional photographers in our community who are looking for some inspiration or a better, faster way to get it done and get back behind the lens,  we highly recommend a visit to dpBestflow.org.  The site, an initiative of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and supported by the US Library of Congress, is an exhaustive resource and offers best practices for digital photography and workflow, including workflow guides designed to match a wide variety of working styles. (Side note: much of the content on dpbestflow.org was adapted from “The DAM Book for Digital Photographers” by Peter Krogh; another terrific resource.)

But what if you are simply an enthusiastic amateur who’s decided that 2012 is THE year in which you’ll tame your large, unruly image collection and get your digital image assets under control once and for all?  Where do you even start?

We asked a member of our product team who’s passionate about photography and also incredibly well organized, to describe how he uses ACDSee Pro 5  to organize his growing image library:

AN EASY WAY TO ORGANIZE YOUR IMAGES WITH ACDSee

With ACDSee (either Pro or Standard), you have access to the live file system.  This means that you can use ACDSee to browse your Windows or Finder file structure as you like to organize your files.  Many people have different approaches to organizing their files, and each method satisfies different needs.  The term for this is “Digital Asset Management”, essentially collecting data (like photos and videos), organizing it into an archive, and conveniently recovering it later. With ACDSee, a common way to approach organization is to first organize your files into a logical file structure, and then apply a second level organization that leaves the files where they are while providing more information about them for finding them later.  This approach is offered with the layout of the Manage mode of ACDSee.

First, when getting photos off of your camera, I prefer to organize a folder structure of photos by date.  Those with years and years of regular photo shoots could use Pictures | Year the photos were taken | Month the photos were taken| Date the photos were taken. For example, if you did a photo shoot on January 8, 2012, you would have a folder of images in Pictures |2012 | 01 | 08.  When going back to find your photos it’s easy to just navigate to the 2012 folder, and find your photos in the correct date.  The drawback to this is that when you’re looking for that photo of a particular event, you have to remember the exact date, which is difficult if you’re constantly taking photos.

My personal approach has a little more information: Pictures | Years the photos were taken | Month-Date the photos were taken.  For example, if I took a set of photos on Christmas day 2011, my photos will be here: Pictures | 2011 | 12-25 Christmas. This allows me to quickly find my set as the folders would be chronologically in order, and I can easily spot “Christmas” in the folder name.  Another advantage is that I can simply search for the term “Christmas”, and my photos will appear.  Note you may have taken photos over several days, meaning have two options here: 1) organizing your photos by the date you collected the photos from your camera, or  2) organizing your photos by the date they were taken.  ACDSee conveniently offers both methods, but I use #1.

Next, I don’t always take photos of events.  I’m interested in night photography, landscapes, shorelines, etc., which I take in more than one photo session.  If I’m looking for all my pictures of shorelines, my folder structure does not help.  Also, I don’t want to rename my files because that’s just too much work.  Instead, I’ll use Categories by dragging files onto the Category structure that I created.  Not only can you create a flat list of Categories with ACDSee, but you can build your own structure.  For example, you can create a Category structure where Shells is within Shorelines which is within Nature: Nature | Shorelines | Shells.  It’s organization of your organization!  Using this approach, you have folders and file names in chronological order with a convenient short description, and a structure of Categories where you can find all your photos.

We can go further!  When I’m showing off photos, I usually only show off my best.  If I’ve organized photos with Categories, I can also apply ratings to them.  All my best photos are 5/5, next best are 4/5, and so on. (I tend to simply not rate my worst photos, and give a rating of one to moderately interesting shots.)  What’s great about ACDSee is that you can CTRL-click on any category and any rating together.  This means that in two clicks, I can get all my top-rated shoreline photos.

With ACDSee, you have so many options - you’ll just need to figure out what works best for you.  The Import tool allows all the options above, but was built to be expandable to your particular workflow, putting the control in your hands.  I’ve only touched on Categories and Ratings, but you have Color Labels (new in Pro 5 and ACDSee 14), Keywords, IPTC metadata, and searching by EXIF metadata - all of which help organize, archive, and find your photos.

Tell us: How do you organize your photos with ACDSee?

Stay tuned for Part 2:  “Purging Your Digital Clutter”

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