Do you know where your files are?

If you took an image but can’t find it when you need it, does it matter that it exists?

Last week, I got an email from a magazine editor trying to locate an image I took of the owner of a very unique sculpture. The problem? I had taken the photos for the San Francisco Chronicle–on film–on a very fast deadline. In Scottsdale, Arizona. Ten years ago. All of the workflow systems and archiving processes I’ve developed that work well for me now were not even a glimmer in my eye back then.

Good that things do change. Workflow and secure archiving are something I’ve worked hard to make a strength of mine. The two together, known as DAM (digital asset management) should be the rock upon which any professional photographer’s business is built.

Do you have a good system for archiving your work and locating it again? In my contracts with clients, I state that I’m not responsible for storage and retrieval of client images…but let’s be honest here. My clients aren’t photographers; I am. They don’t have thousands of dollars of computer storage and software dedicated to backing up everything three times and locating it in seconds. I do; so the reality is that I can and will do whatever my clients need.

So if last year’s client calls me because their CD walked away, or if (more likely) they need an image re-outputted for poster size rather than web delivery, I can do what I enjoy doing…and that’s helping them out instead of digging through endless files on my desktop.

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