The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers Paperback – Nov 25 2005
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About the Author
Peter Krogh is a commercial photographer in the Washington DC area. He is an Alpha Tester for Adobe, helping with the development of workflow and asset management tools for Photoshop and Adobe Bridge. He is on the board of directors of ASMP, the American Society of Media Photographers, and speaks frequently on Digital Asset Management to photographers' groups and other computer users.You can see his photography work on his website, www.peterkrogh.com, and some of his work promoting digital standards at www.digitalphotographystandards.com
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By word of mouth, postings in on-line forums and an occasional magazine article I figured out that I'd better back up my photo files to non-erasable media and that I could more easily find old files by cataloging them with cataloging software. But I can't say that I developed a comprehensive system.
The DAM Book does that. (I wish they had taken a different title; the pun soon becomes boring.) Krough presents a system for sorting, archiving and finding photographs using Adobe Bridge and cataloging software. After defining digital asset management (DAM) and metadata, he talks about creating the digital archive both as an information structure and as a hardware configuration. Because he presumes that serious photographers will be using Photoshop, he discusses the use of Adobe Bridge as an asset management tool and describes a DAM workflow. He then discusses cataloging software, what he calls derivative files (which are generally files derived from a master copy) and strategies for file migration, including computer upgrades, software changes and even film migration.
The author's own system seems beyond the needs of most photographers. (He claims to catalog 135,000 pictures a year.) But even though his own system includes rack-mounted servers, raid configuration and multiple back-ups, he also suggests simpler systems that include a single computer, an external drive and DVD backups. But what is most important is not the description of systems but the presentation of concepts that most digital photographers can apply. For example, even though I could see the difference between browsers and cataloging software, articulating the distinction between the two makes it easier to analyze my own requirements. And understanding that for a digital cataloging system, that uses keywords, the title of a picture is not essential to finding it makes it easier to use titles that are system related rather then content related.
Krough describes useful software that supplements Bridge that can be downloaded for free and will make DAM easier. (Unfortunately he hasn't found a way to make Bridge run any faster, but he does suggest time-saving procedures.) He also suggests procedures that some photographers will not need, like embedding a rating in every photograph, and other procedures that might be a little premature, like converting every file to Adobe's DNG format to better preserve metadata. On the other hand, before I even finished the book, I had made several changes in my own DAM system. For example, although he uses iView MediaPro as an example of cataloging software, he made me wonder if my cataloging software had the same capabilities that I had never used. A little time with my software manual and I now have a place to store external metadata that are not embedded in a picture file, but are associated with particular pictures.
There are other books that discuss DAM but this is the first I've encountered aimed at photographers. I consider it essential reading for serious digital photographers.
Alas, the author chose to tie VERY CLOSELY his mostly sensible conceptual framework (i.e., HOW to organize) with very specific software and hardware. Often, more general advice is difficult or impossible to separate from his step-by-step, software-specific recipes. So, unless you use exactly the same software and hardware configuration as the author, much, if not most of this information will be of little use.
Since the book was first published, new, DAM- and photographic workflow-oriented software has become available (Adobe CS3, including the new Bridge is now in public beta nearing its release; and Apple Aperture 1.5 and Adobe PS Ligtroom 1.0 are the new, more workflow-focused tools), and more up-to-date (although dispersed) discussion of problems in question can be found in numerous articles on the web. This makes large portions of the book obsolete, as new tools enable different workflows that may be better suited to many photographers' preferences.
The book has other issues.
First, the author LOVES using technical jargon. While technical vocabulary is appropriate in discussing technical issues, creating new terms and elaborate taxonomies for everything is an overkill. The author's misguided argument for using "controlled vocabularies" (a common term, which he uses in his own, very peculiar way - p. 47) is a good case in point. As Eric Abrahamson (Columbia Business School) aptly points out in his excellent book "A Perfect Mess," organizing is always good in principle, but OVER ORGANIZING by creating systems more complex than it is necessary to get the job done, comes at a very steep price in time and resources needed to maintain the system. Enough said.
Secondly, since this is a workflow book (not a coffee-table book), the full color print is totally unnecessary, and the price point is consequently too high. This should have been one of those $9.95 O'Reilly quick-guide booklets. Most photos reproduced in the book are simply decorative, or used as examples for things that are obvious (e.g. an example of a "group shot" - duh!; or a photo of wine barrels in a cellar as a metaphor for file storage system). Photos are not interesting on their own merit; screen captures and simple diagrams would be just as effective in greyscale.
In summary, you may want to flip through the pages of the book at a local library or bookstore - what's really useful and noteworthy here, can be easily grasped in less than 15 minutes; otherwise, your money may be better spent on a good book focused on the actual software tools YOU are committed to using.
The best thing about this book is it describes, in detail, one whole methodology for setting up a reasonable system for storing, naming, cataloging, backing-up, rating, and organizing photos. I would much rather a book that describes one method, rather than trying to describe every possible methods and the tradeoffs of each. Krogh describes how he does it, why he did it that way, and what the advantages an disadvantages were. You may object to some of his choices- (I am not a fan of digital negatives), but opinions are like you know what...everybody has one.
If you use the same software that Krough uses, you will be very satisfied with his book. If you use others (Photoshop downrevs, ACDSEE, etc), I can see the book being a bit of a disappointment. However, since I use the same tools (and these probably cost close to $1000 to duplicate), the price of the book was easily made up in just a couple of the hints.
I do have one complaint. The interface between CS2 and iVIEW is clunky in that it doesn't point to the same metadata for some fields- specifically the star rankings. Krogh suggests a number of work-arounds, none of which I really liked. None of that is Krogh's fault- Microsoft and Adobe need to have a meeting. However the one thing that really annoyed me was that Krogh offered one script to address the problem, which is offered on his website for a fee- don't remember the exact amount- $20 seems to ring a bell.
If there is one thing I hate, it is laying out cash for a methodology book, only to be hit up again for downloading a script.
If stuff like that doesn't bother you- I wholeheartedly recommend the book, subject to your having the same toolset. If stuff like that bothers you- hold your nose and buy it anyway.
Krogh's system combines Photoshop CS2's Bridge with separate cataloging software (he uses IView Media Pro, but points out that Extensis Portfolio and others work just fine too). He also makes a persuasive case for using Adobe's DNG format in your Raw file workflow - i.e., for archiving your images.
The DAM Book covers everything - from setting up to backing up. But the best "advertisement" for Krogh's system? He uses these techniques to maintain his own digital file - one that grew by more than 135,000 images in the past three years alone!
The most important contributions of this book are it's clear explanation of the big picture of the cataloging process. He suggests developing a systematic way to name, store, and archive each file.
He answers important questions such as: How does Browsing software (like Bridge) differ from cataloging software (like iView MediaPro). Where in the work flow should metadata be added. Why convert all your RAW files to DNG? What are all those confusing IPTC panels used for?
I suspect he suffers from an Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. Instead of being satisfied with a 5-star rating system, he pulls in color labels to pull out the nuances of images that are in some way flawed. This is simply overkill for those of us that need to be out taking pictures. If one fully embraced his meticulous file management practices, there would be no time to shoot pictures.
His naming system is baffling to me. He proposes naming all of the files with names like: "Krough_010501-1234.dng". Personally for me using some descriptive language that others may be able to understand is useful, so my naming convention would be: "Tiger "Swallowtail_1234.dng"
Hardware for storage is discussed at some length and is quite helpful. I do disagree with his statement that " buying expensive RAID setups for archive files doesn't make sense for most photographers." In the past I used his proposed method of multiple external hard drives, but two years ago, after I had two LaCie hard drives fail, I made the jump to Apple's Xserve RAID. Now my data is fully backed up at all times. It has performed flawlessly and does not have to be much more expensive than multiple hard drives.
He is enamored of using Scripts with Bridge. Most users (including me) find Scrips confusing and simply ignore them. However, his descriptions are clear and I'm tempted to try them.
Despite the negative comments I do recommend this book. Nowhere else have I seen these topics covered in such detail. For Professional or serious amateur photographers, keeping track of your files is a growing problem. This book shows you how to structure your images so that in the future you can find that needle in the haystack.
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