Digital Asset Management (DAM)is a tool you should learn about.
I want to present two basic ideas, in 3 simple steps (and tips), to help you manage your photography work better. The first is managing you work on you computer (organizing it), and the second is the keywords and tags you add to it when submitting your work on-line.
A few words of introduction first. If you are a starting photographer, this is very important for you. The experienced ones will find it hard to Re-manage all the work they have done, and they probably have a system they work with (working, or not). However, if you are starting now to accumulate your photographs and submitting it on-line, this is essential for you, and easier to do.
Shell we begin?
1. Managing your photographs
This simple method is based on dates and places. The steps are all centered on creating a folder structure organized around the dates and places you took the pictures on.
This organization method is based on dates and places. Why? Its simple: You can browse through your folders by the general time you remember the shots were taken, and easily find the places when it was taken. It's easier today, in this digital age, to find pictures by the dates they were taken and all you need to fill is the places they were taken in.
STEP 1: Have only ONE folder that contains all your pictures folders.
All your pictures folders should be contained in only one folder. If you start creating multiple folders on your drives, and duplicate, you will be lost.
STEP 2: Start with the year. Open a folder for 2008 (for example) and add inside a folder for the month (let's say June). Inside this folder you can add a folder for each date you took the pictures in, and add to the folders name - the location of the shoot (for examples 06_08_11-NewYork_GroundZero, 06-08-12-Paris_Museum). If you taken the photographs in different places, split the folders to show the same date but the different locations they were taken in.
REMEMBER: These folders DO NOT represent the subject of the pictures, but they are groupings of dates and places. Were just grouping them into large categories. This way youre dividing a large quantity of pictures into more manageable chunks.
It should look something like that:
» My Pictures
» 06_08_11-NewYork_GroundZero, 06-08-12-Paris_Museum
STEP 3: Be consistent!
Now, use the same techniques every time you transfer more pictures from your camera to your computer. However, it is very important that you remain consistent every time you transfer new pictures to your computer. If you become lazy, you will have to go through the same process later on. However, it will take more time because you will not remember what has been organized and what hasnt.
After you used this system for a while you will see a map of your work by dates and places. All you will need to remember is the rough date you took it in (month is enough), and if you don't a few clicks is enough to locate it. It will also make it easier on you to remember the names of the places you've been. The EXIF data in your files will make it easier on you to find the specific shoot your looking for. Let's say a friend sees one of your pieces on-line and asks you if you have a few more shots from there... simply see the date this shot was taken on (the EXIF shows it) and locate the date in your folders.
Easy, isn't it?
1. Besides your folders run by dates make a special folder in you "My pictures" main folder. Call it "My collection" (or something like that). Add to that folder a few photos for each shoot you really liked. Not everything, just 2-3 photos you feel you might want to publish later. It will make it easier for you to backup you most treasured photographs, and also locate pieces for uploading later on
2. When you do post processing on your work, don't overwrite the original piece. Open a folder inside the folder your looking at and add the edited pictures in it. Also add the resized picture (for uploading) in a different folder inside of it.
2. Keywords and Tags
What do we need these for? Well, the Internet sort of works on that to help you get better marketing. You can also use software to add keywords to your files, but I just think it's too much work to begin with.
I can tell you from my experience that adding keywords and tags is not something I did from the beginning but once I learned, I found it made a big difference. 20% of my Flickr account traffic comes from the Tags I add. Different searches in Google, or Yahoo have generated lots of traffic to my images.
STEP 1: Imagine what searches you would be performing
Try to think about the kinds of pictures youre taking and imagine what you would be searching against. For example: You want to find out all the pictures taken in New York with a yellow taxi showing. All these highlighted words would represent actual keywords but at this time try to think in terms of categories that these keywords fall under. So, would you be searching against cities? Or cars? Or colors? There might be more than one answer to this question, like both cities and cars, or both cars and colors. The answers to this question would help you identify the domains that you currently have for your pictures.
You should think like a searcher - Add "USA" since it defines the location, and also "NY" "NewYork" "New York" "NYC" and continue to the next word - "Yellow" "color", and "Taxi" car" "taxis" "cab" and so on.
STEP 2: The subject of the photo is not enough
OK, you added keywords for the subject of the photo. What about the atmosphere in the photo, or the general colors, category? You can always add categories, as you know them, like "Urban" "Abstract" "Landscape" "portraits" and if the pictures shows strong color you should keword it, like "red" "yellow" "black" and so on. The most important (for me) is trying to capture the atmosphere of the shot, like "lonely" "happy" "expressive" and so on. Taking it further you can add to a landscape shot the words "sky" "clouds" "meadow"
STEP 3: Who is you audience?
Who do you want to attract to your photographs? Do you want people that buys stock to find it? Animal lovers? Friends your age? This is an important issue since it defines the way you choose your words. If you want them to attract stock buyers you will use "stock" "landscape photographs" "paris postcards". For animal lovers you will emphasize what animal lovers like "cute kitten" "my cat" "whiskers". For friends your age you will use the words in your lingo and so on... You need to think about that when you choose your words.
Generating traffic to your on-line work is important, and Keywords and Tags are the ways to do it (among others). You should be a "copy writer" and try and aim the photo to the possible searches that may want to find it in the results. Don't be too predictable since you result won't show. Find the unique thing about your photograph and highlight it.
1. Use combinations of two words or more (don't forget to put them in commas). You have more of a chance they will be found in a search.
2. Search engines look for the title of the piece, the name of the file, and the keywords/tags before all the text in the description. If it's really important to you - try and insert a strong key word to the title of the image and even the file name.
3. Follow the statistics of what searches brought up your photos. It's possible on Flickr, but not here.. I know. You can learn from it a lot about what you did good, and where you missed.
OK - Good luck!