Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photo management from the shoe box to the digital shoe box --- edit out the good ones!

I was annoyed with how I didn't have the right lens with me when I went out shooting, so I designed a camera bag to get me carry what I needed and get to it.

With the computer and digital imaging we are making it hard to find the good shots. Slide shows show all the photos at the same size, mix up the order and often show similar shots showing the same thing.

I always saw taking photos was like a reporter taking notes. Back in the office you review your notes, listen to the tape recording, research and they write the story. Same for the photographer, take lots of photos and then come back and pick the best. The beauty and challenge is to get the one picture that tells the story.

This all ties around how today we are taking photos with a DSLR that saves the image on data card that gets transferred to a laptop and then uploaded to Facebook, or Picasa, or various other websites, or a client.

Gigaom recently published a survey on the need for apps to manage photos, seeing this a calling for software to browse cell phones, tablets, laptops and the cloud for "dispersed" photos.

What they are trying to figure out is how to organize. Adobe solved the problem simply by tracking by date taken. This works okay, except I like to change the filename and have separate folders for month and assignment during the month. If you open and SAVE AS it is another photo at a different time and you are challenged to group them all together.

Gigaom studied picassa, picturelife, myshoebox, thislife, etc and saw variations with organizing "dispersed photos." Many sorted by unloaded date, but they wondered about browsing and see an "unmet need" of syncing, browsing and backing-up the hi-res images. Many online services simply have thumbnail shots. 

I remember the old days at the newspaper where photos were sent up to the morgue, the library. It varied at the various newspapers. The negatives were all saved, we made a few prints and only the photos that ran in the paper were saved in subject folders.

For example, there was a folder for baseball, then another for the local team and a few others for individual players. Organized to meet the needs of editors looking for a photo to go with future stories. They couldn't save everything.

They saved all the photos for a week, by day, then sifted through files some by subject and threw the others away. A lot of photos that showed life during the time, feature photos, special events, have been lost.

What's interesting to me is how I took photos like the reporter takes notes. I'd go back to the photo lab and develop several rolls of film. The photo editor would look over the film and pick just 2 or three shots that stood out and told the story. My goal was to try to get the one shot, you don't know until your done, but you keep shooting. It was always nice to agree with the editor and get your favorite shot run on the front page.

It was the bad editor who was insecure and nervous about running anything different. Many of the old-times always took the over-all shot because they knew that's what the paper expected.

But I want to address archiving photos and the need to better organize the images. Newspapers didn't save everything, I liked seeing the one photo that captured the moment. Like the returning POW photo by Sal Veder that covers the end of the war.

Or, Joe Rosenthal's flag raising on Okinawa, is one photo that gets the message out.

I see taking the photos and then having the filenames changed to include a "slug" word that tells what they are about and the date. During the year, or on the computer's hard-drive I find it useful to keep the photos in a folder under the year, with a folder that starts with the month then the "slug."


But as time goes by, the photos need to be edited down. Just save the favorites. I usually have an "edit" sub-folder where I have cropped and toned my favorite shots. Like I use to do at the newspaper.

These are hi-res shots, 300 dpi, too big for the web. If it is going to be uploaded I reduce the size and save in another folder, labeled "web." Inside this folder the photos are saved by subject.

What I want to so is after a year, save the photos by subject not by date. Get all my landscapes in one folder, all the shots of Fort Worth in another, shots take around home of the family in another.

Changing names and changing folders goes against the save everything Lightroom program, it won't find the new files and keeps telling you that it has lost images.

For this reason I like using Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits. I can move things and find it. Simply because of the name and folder.