I’m getting old. Who remembers the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum? Well, I do. I also remember my first digital camera, a Casio QV-10A. I wasn’t really interested in photography (I had never owned a film-based camera). If I would have been, I probably never would have bought that camera, since the picture quality was pretty useless for anything else than tiny illustrations on a webpage. But, it was the digital aspect that was exciting. Just to have your pictures sitting on your harddisk, instead of lying in a shoebox in the basement was intriguing. The future was here and I was part of it.
Nobody believes in the paperless era anymore, but digital photography has become the standard. Some artists might still prefer film, but most professionals have long made the switch. Nikon has announced it will stop making most of its film cameras to concentrate on digital models.
The problem with this is starting to get obvious. Since few of the pictures taken today are being printed out, they end up on a harddisk or a CD-ROM. For many people this is the end of the story and they will sooner or later loose those pictures. For those who had a different fate in mind, this is the beginning of a lot of considerations. Photographers must now familiarize themselves with the concepts of digital archiving and Digital Asset Management (DAM).
The Casio I bought only a decade ago. Still, the camera and all the pictures I took with it, are long gone. Hardware changes rapidly, so do formats. The 5¼-inch floppy was still widely available in the early nineties. Given such a disk today, very few people would be able to retrieve the data. I don’t even have a 3½-inch floppy drive on my desktop anymore. And what about CD-ROMs? Even if you would be able to read a CD-ROM twenty years from now, chances are that the data on it is corrupted. A CD-ROMs lifespan generally doesn’t exceed five years. Then there is the format. Are you sure, you’re children will know what you’re talking about when you mention JPEG twenty years from now? How about organizing the pictures you have? Picasa is cool, but will it be there ten years from now? Once it’s gone, so are all your tags, keywords, notes, categories, etc.
I’m struggling with this and still have to find a comfortable workflow that makes my pictures manageable and future-proof. I’ve already lost a lot of pictures over the years. I’m determined to hold on to the ones I still have and to make them manageable. This is not an easy task. I own more than ten thousand. The latest weighing around 20Mb each. So, today I ordered The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers (O’Reilly Digital Studio) by Peter Krogh. I’ll give you a review once I read it.
UPDATE: I just found out that Adobe is working on a new project named Lightroom:
Lightroom is Adobe’s effort to engage the professional photography community in a new way, giving you the opportunity to kick the tires and shape the feature set of a new tool being created just for you. Ultimately, we want Lightroom to be truly built from the ground up by photographers, for photographers, helping solve your unique workflow challenges.
It looks pretty cool watching the video. Unfortunately I can’t try it out. There is a beta version available, but only for Mac. What I don’t understand though, is why Adobe is pushing three programs that essentially are trying to accomplish the same. There was already Photoshop Album and they only recently launched Bridge (as a replacement for File Browser). This all seems a bit redundant. Why not one program. They could release a full version for professionals and a light version for consumers, like they do with Photoshop. Why don’t they concentrate on Bridge and drop the rest? Bridge and Bridge Elements should be enough.
1 comment February 18th, 2006