Photography Workflow and Backup Strategy

As technology improves so do my working methods for capturing, collecting, and saving my photographs.

My Current Work Flow
I shoot a lot of images. There was a time when many of these images where captured, uploaded and subsequently stored on my hard drive never to be found again. Until one day, I sat down and started reviewing all the work I had collected over time. I asked my self, “self, why have you taken all of these images? and why on earth did you keep that one?” My inquisitive nature led me to following two cataloging techniques:

  1. Create a series of folders that are labeled with thematic titles. These tiles can be anything from the ordinary, such as: family outings, close-ups, or landscapes, to the more abstract and obscure, such as: skin-fold explorations, physiognomy, and anatomy of. . .
  2. If there are not two or more of any image series that fit within any one of the aforementioned titles, then toss the image or capture similar images in the future (like tomorrow).

The two points that I made above led me to seriously consider the images on my hard drive. I found that I was keeping images just because I captured them but with no real intention of doing anything with them. By “anything,” I mean at least one of the following:

  1. Uploading the image to facebook to share with friends
  2. Uploading to flickr to share with my photography pools
  3. Add to my growing body of images I consider part of my life’s work as an artist, i.e. serious work. Eventually added to my web site and respective, “thematically titled folders” (see point #1 above).
  4. Print and give away to friends, frame and put on the wall, or submit to my print portfolio for gallery submissions. Subsequently these images have a special “thematic title” (see point #1 above).

The objective of this process was, for me, a method of realizing the work I had collected and ridding myself of the burden to hang on to every image I captured. The greatest lesson I learned from this was the skill of self editing.

As you advance in your skill and craft, I encourage each of you to begin the process of self-editing your work. In the words of Terry Barrett, ask yourself his four basic questions, “what is here? What is it about? How good is it? and is it Art?” BTW: I also use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.

What work-flow and backup strategies to you employ? Share your comments using the form below.


4 Responses to “Photography Workflow and Backup Strategy”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Trefethen Studios, MerchantArts. MerchantArts said: Sorting through my collection of #photographs. I've come up with a system that helps me self edit my work. […]

  2. I’m working on this right now.I get behind with this idea but part of my plan is to upload images onto the computer, put them in folders on my desktop like the month of July. At the end of each month I burn them on a disk and take them off my computer.I also have folders in Pictures which are family ,cityscapes etc. I use Lightroom so Lightroom will tell me if they are not in my computer. I then know i have the images on a CD. I have subject folders in pictures. The trouble is some of the images in the folders have been burned to a CD. Then I add new pictures to the folder. Now I don’t know what is on a CD and what hasn’t been burned onto a CD. This answer is a little muddled but I’m a little muddled right now! I’m working on it

  3. trefethen says:

    Carla thanks for the comment. It’s been about a week since you posted. How’s it coming along? Have you begun to implement your new strategy? You should set aside some time this weekend to consider your back up, management and organizational options. CDs and DVDs will someday be gone as new forms of recording media hit the market. You really should be backing up all of your work in at least three places. My advice is to look into some external hard drives. like the ones by Synology.

    Also, there are tools that will help you keep track of your images by automatically creating folders and archives allowing you to keep track of your bank of images while backing up from a central location.

    I’m sure you have hundreds if not thousands of photos and generate more every day. One great option for cataloging your images with ease of use and many sharing options is ACDSee Pro. They’re offering a Free Trial Download of their ACDSee Pro 3. Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to work with.

    Also, if you need any help setting up a Synology Back Up System, just let me know.

  4. Hi John
    I just found this while looking through your website not sure how I missed it. . I have Drobo and Lightroom 3. I haven’t sat down and started editing yet. But I do know I have all my images stored on site at home on Drobo and CD’s- not a good idea.Thank’s for commenting. I have LOTS of photos to delete!