If you are like many of the photographers that I know, the importance of proper digital asset management (DAM) has not set in. For many of you, your DAM solutions involve a similar wofkflow that involves shooting an assignment, ingesting/downloading photos, applying metadata, tagging and editing your selects, delivering edited photos to your client, backing up to an internal/external drive and hopefully burning a backup of the complete take on CD/DVD. For those of us that shoot RAW, this is time consuming process that yields little long-term protection to our photos and no chance to quickly locate our files should a client need a something specific in a rush. For those reasons, a hosted DAM solution like Critical Axiom’s Photocore is a logical choice that can save you time and money. In this post, I will share my workflow and why Photocore is so important.
In 2007, shortly after shooting the SEC Tournament here in Atlanta, I lost my whole take due to a hard drive failure in my Mac Book Pro. Every game of the tournament was shot RAW, and as unfortunate as it was, I never had a chance to edit the complete take or back it up — great strobed photos lost forever. The only photos left are the photos that were edited between games and uploaded to US Presswire, the first Photocore client.
As a photographer or an organization that owns your photography, your digital assets are priceless and should be treated as such. All too often, it takes the loss of important photographs before an organization buys into the needs of establishing such a system — I saw it with the Buccaneers and nearly saw it with the Braves. Your photographs are the backbone of your organization or portfolio and should be revered as such. Establishing a proper DAM workflow will ensure that your photos can be found within second, saving you or your organization time and money.
As the team photographer for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Braves, a great percentage of my time was spent researching and developing Digital Asset Management Solutions that eventually led to final online image archives residing on Getty Media Manager (Buccaneers) and Critical Axiom Photocore (Braves).
For the Buccaneers… An Overview
Upon arriving in Tampa, my first order of business was to review the Buccaneers digital and analog archive and determine a solution that would enable it to become one of the most comprehensive and searchable sports archives in the world. This was not a small task but one I knew was achievable with the commitment from the Bucs ownership. Prior to my arrival, not a lot of value was put into the need of having an in-house storage system for the Buccaneers digital assets and because of this, many of the Buccaneers Super Bowl Parade photos were lost on crashed drives.
After a thorough review of the Buccaneers imagery, I found that 90% of the digital archive existed on various CDs/DVDs, external drives that had crashed or were barely working and various laptop/desktop computers. Much of this work was organized in random fashion and had very little attention to detail in regards to file structure, naming schemes and metadata.
I implemented the following File Structure & Naming Schemes:
- Year Folder: 2007 (EX)
- Game Folder: YYMMDD_AwayTeam_HomeTeam
- Unedited Images: YYMMDD_XX_AwayTeam_HomeTeam_0001.jpeg (XX represents photographers initials)
I will upload a PDF that further explains the system that I established for all photographer shooting for the Buccaneers. However, for now know that this is the most important part of establishing a solid Digital Asset Management solution. Once this was established, all Buccaneers photographers had to follow this system just as if they were shooting an assignment for one of the sports wire services. The 2007 season saw the first in the Buccaneers history were high resolution images were available for download within an hour or so following the game.
Early on, my request of having an in-house Apple XServe was shot down, but about a week or so into the project, we began experiencing problems with files disappearing on a PC based server. After much research, it was determined that the lack of structure with file naming was the issue and days later, an Apple XServe was approved and ordered. Several weeks later, we hit the ground running and never looked back. During the spring, summer and fall of 2007, I managed a team of nearly 20 student interns whose main focus was organizing, renaming, captioning and uploading photos to Getty Media Manager.
The relationships I developed while in Tampa will never be forgotten, and for what it is worth, it was the best job that I have ever had. I will never forget my time there and value the commitment that the Buccaneers organization made for developing such an archive. I left for one reason, and that was my daughter who lives in Helen, Georgia.
In later posts, I will be discussing file structure, naming schemes and metadata in greater detail. Additionally, I will cover my research on various Digital Asset Management systems and the programs we used to get the job done. Programs like Apple’s Aperture and Adobe’s Lightroom provide reasonable solutions but do not have the metadata capabilities or speed in workflow that Photo Mechanic has in combination with Photoshop.