BitDepth 696 - September 08

Peter Krogh updates his essential book on Digital Asset Management.
The DAM thing self

The second edition of Peter Krogh's book on digital asset management embraces the new workflows offered by Lightroom and Aperture.

Students of digital photography will find fun, sexy books about photographing good looking people, informative, simple books like Scott Kelby's "Digital Photography" series and books covering very specific subjects, like Matt Kloskowski's book on Photoshop's layers feature.
Even today's plethora of books on the subject lag behind the dozens of websites offering tutorials, features and portfolios covering almost any subject that the modern photo enthusiast might wish to explore, and most of those are free.

Curiously, the three books that have made the biggest difference in my appreciation of the potential of computers to revolutionise the craft I've been engaged in for 33 years now aren't among the big sellers.
They are, in order of discovery, Real World Camera Raw by the late Bruce Fraser, updated since his untimely passing by Jeff Schewe, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom book by Martin Evening and The DAM book, by Peter Krogh.

Each of these books deals with the management of RAW files, which are an option on every modern digital SLR today. There's been a lot of back and forth on whether photographers should bother with these files, which are an unprocessed dump of the data captured by the camera's sensor. They demand additional attention after capture and are much bigger than JPEG files, but they are the closest that the digital photography process has come to replicating the flexibility and potential of the film negative.
As I write those words, I am reminded of the fact that for most of today's young photographers, a film negative is an abstract term that hearkens back to a bygone era when processing images involved arcane rituals in darkened rooms.

Krogh's concepts
I found Peter Krogh before I discovered his book. Stumbling into a dimly lit lecture hall three years ago at PhotoPlus Expo in New York, I was engaged by his talk, a flood of concepts and systematic approaches to digital asset management, the managing and archiving digital files.
I've always been a sucker for a system and when photographs begin to pile up, a system is your only salvation. Two and a half decades of negatives and transparencies were corralled with a system of my own invention; numbered negative pages in binders that referenced contact sheets filed in envelopes according to subject.

Krogh's book is about a much deeper method of not only referencing much more slippery digital files but defines ways of corralling them and gathering them in ways that were simply impossible with film.
Much of what I do to manage digital files today has been directly lifted from or influenced by Krogh's book and I expect to make more adjustments now that the revised and updated second edition of his book is out.

DAM principles
Central to the principles of the DAM book are the following:
Filenames are almost useless as a way of attaching information to digital files. Embedded metadata is designed for this purpose and photographers must embrace the many ways such information can be placed easily both automatically and manually.
There are only two kinds of files, master files (originals from the camera) and derivative files (images in which significant work has been invested) and both must be archived and backed up aggressively.

Files should be arranged around the concept of "buckets," folders filled to the capacity of optical media backup, so that archives can easily be archived on both DVDs and hard disks.
The DAM book discusses the three steps of image handling: transfer from the camera card (ingestion); editing and post-processing; and archiving, approached from the perspective of a passionate librarian undertaking the responsibility for creating an accessible, information-rich database for huge datasets.

Krogh's the big cheese on this topic, and years after the first edition was published, he still stands alone. His principles are referenced and sometimes lifted wholesale in website stories and in more general books about the photography business, but the DAM book is the lodestone and source of the best concepts available.
This isn't an easy subject and it's an uphill climb for the terminally messy, but it is absolutely essential for every professional photographer and extremely useful for any snapper with a fidgety shutter finger. 
The alternative to studying and implementing the most basic principles of this book is at best, chaos and at worst, the disaster of data loss that dare not speak its name.
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