We’ve had a number of calls and emails of late asking the basic but REALLY important question, “How do you find an image you shot 5yrs ago?” Finding photos is important and doing so means you’ve taken care of the loneliest, most boring and unrewarding shore in photography, filing (yuck!!!). Truly, I hate it and Sooooo look forward to the day when we have a librarian for the files. In the meantime, I made the mess so I’ve got to take care of it. By the end of the summer, my image library will hit two million images (I’m so bloody fortunate!) and I am quite proud that anybody can come to my files and find the image they need. Here’s how I do it.
YOUR filing system MUST fit YOUR logic which means no one system works for everyone. I work on the KISS theorem so for critters it’s real simple. All images are filed so newest are at the back or end of the file. My favorites are tagged as such but left in order in which the image was captured. Mammals since there aren’t that many species in NoAm are all filed alphabetically under Mammals. Birds are totally different since there are so many species so they are filed alphabetically under their appropriate family by species. Landscape images in my mind are locations on the globe so are filed as such under state and then location name, all alphabetically. So far in 30yrs, this system has worked for us and those coming to work in our office. Then came aviation.
There are lots of aircraft out there, shot in many locations and often, many types photographed at specific events such as the Reno Air Races. At the same time, I at least capture thousands upon thousands of images in a day when working with aircraft. I could have used the Bird system and broken them down into aircraft type, but then when needing those for a particular event (for historic reasons) you’d have to look at the date of each file. That’s not a doable system for a business. I could file them all under the event, but then how do you find one particular aircraft for an editor? What I went to is something I told my partner David I would never use, Keywords (gotta watch when you use that word never). Thank goodness David ignored me and incorporated a killer Keyword and Keyword search engine in DigitalPro6! (You can see my partial aviation Keyword list above)
So last week when I had a client who wanted to look at some specific images for the P-51 Mustang, all I had to do was use the Keyword search, click on P-51 Mustang keyword, hit Find and then Display and then Ctrl T and in less then a minute all my favorite P-51 images from all my network drives were displayed on the monitor. While I was on the phone, I could tell the client exactly what I had and then with two more clicks, the images were selected, thumbnails created and emailed to the client. That’s how you turn images into cash and keep the cash!
Are Keywords perfect? Hell NO!!!! Once you use a Keyword, you can’t modify it (at this time) because it will effect all the libraries. The database of your Keywords can get lost or destroyed which is a royal pain in the %&(@)) so you must get in the habit of backing it up and storing it in other places (Thanks to Adam for that important word of advise!). But for our growing aviation business, Keywords works great and for our wildlife biz, our KISS system works great. Think through how you think about things and find them and you too will find the system that works best for you. The key, is just find the system and start using it today!