10 March 2009

Workflow vs. archiving

This post is a step to the side in my process of looking at image archiving software. But I think it is a quite important one.
The question I want to address is how workflow can impact archiving.
My own workflow is rather fuzzy, but there are a few regular milestones.

1. I take pictures. (wow, eh?)
2. Load onto computer
3. Cull the captures (conservatively)
4. Rename files
5. Post-process

I have been through all randomisations of points 3-5, and believe me, it gets uncomfortable when this order is distorted...
I would like to argue that archiving is implicit in points 2-4, but that the process is not complete. In my opinion, an archive is not complete until backup and keywording is done.
Backup should be done regularly, of course, but maybe an extra backup should take place just after an upload from the camera?
Keywording is also best done when memory of the shoot is fresh. I would like it done on the master copy of the file (ie. the raw file), so it can be propagated to post-process created versions automatically.

Keeping post-processing at the end, I end up with this workflow:

1. I take pictures.
2. Load onto computer
3. Cull the captures
4. Rename files
5. Put keywords on 'em
6. Unscheduled extra-backup
7. Post-process

For many photographers it is probably not acceptable to postpone the post-processing to after the culling, keywording and backup is done. Fashion, news and sports, for example, often have tight deadlines and need to fix up some captures fast to get them off to the customer or image desk.

The workflow for them may be more like:

1. Take pictures.
2. Load onto computer
3. Rename files
4. Post-process and send off to customer
5. Cull the captures
6. Put keywords on 'em
7. Unscheduled extra-backup

This is something to keep in mind when considering photo archiving software. In my scenario, I emphasize archiving functionality over image throughput, while other photographers may do the opposite.
I find that this difference is reflected in the software. Some are dedicated archiving tools, some are archiving tools with raw file conversion functionality, and some are raw file converters with archiving functionality.

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