Sat 26-Jan-13 03:02 AM | edited Sat 26-Jan-13 03:06 AM by ericbowles
Many photographers believe a cataloging system eliminates the need for file structures. While it reduces that need, I rely heavily on a naming system, In addition, I am increasingly trying to apply title, captions, and keywords as early as possible in the workflow.
I ingest 30-40,000 images per year. Of that, I rate all the images on a 1-5 scale as follows: 1 = trash 2 = clear reject - reasons vary from soft to simply a lack of a key feature such as head position, catchlight, etc. 3 = keeper for a variety of reasons but wit a flaw - generally not edited 4 = Possible select - good enough to provide to clients, sell, etc. May include duplicates, verticals and horizontals of the same image, etc. Prob 5-8% of images shot. 5 = Best Selects of the year - these are rare and might be 5 -10 per year
After rating I discard all images rated 1 or 2. The 3's are my safety net - nothing borderline is ever discarded. And I have occasionally had to use my 3's for a client with a very specific request.
I make another round through the 4 and 5 rated images to identify my selects - the ones I plan to edit. These are color coded with a Red flag. After editing the flag is changed to Orange.
At ingest all folders and files are named. The folder name starts with the location, event, or other key identifier, then adds a sequential 2 digit code for the folder number of that day. A typical folder would be named Death_Valley_01_20130107
The images are renamed with the location, a 5 digit (now 6 digit) sequential number, and with the date in YYYYMMDD format. A typical image would be named Death_Valley_101357_20130107.NEF
This approach means I never repeat a file name, I can quickly identify the file and folder, and I can find the file and folder by date.
Everything is backed up into a primary and secondary offsite backup. When I backup a file I group them by location or event. So I have a master folder called Death Valley, a folder in it called Death Valley 2013, and one or more folders per day with images from that location.
This means I have a very organized set of files. Every file has the same basic information and is searchable by more than one criteria. This can be very helpful if you need to find a specific image or review images for a particular location or event.
I try to caption and keyword everything before backing up. When traveling or dealing with large volumes, I do high level keywords on ingest and keep a backup copy of the unrated images. Then I do full keywording, rating, etc. when I return home and those are my backups.
This approach works pretty well for me, but there are certainly variations. I am headed toward a catalog program - probably from Camera Bits who makes PM. That will improve the ability to use the data in keyword fields and other fields.