Digital Asset Management Tips for Photographers

Image of a woman looking at a screen full of images on MerlinOne's website

Photographers tend to be prolific creatives, with a single session often resulting in hundreds of proofs. Before you know it, your collection consists of thousands upon thousands of photos, which becomes increasingly difficult to manage as it grows.

The challenge of storing, organizing, and accessing your digital photos is shared by amateur photographers and seasoned professionals alike, making effective digital asset management (DAM) an important investment at any stage of your career. Here’s what you need to know to implement an efficient DAM solution to manage your growing body of work.

Define Your Goals  Black and white image of married man using canon camera to shoot a photo

First and foremost, you need to know what you hope to achieve. Obviously, you want a secure solution that provides safe long-term storage for digital photos that you want to keep, coupled with the ability to quickly locate specific photos when you need them. You might also be looking for a solution that allows you to convert digital photos to various file formats and easily distribute photos to clients or other channels such as social media. Clearly define your goals – and write them down. Doing so helps you evaluate whether a DAM solution, other tool, or process fits into your framework and meets your needs.

Use Consistent Photo Naming Conventions

As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to incorporate the date of an image in its file name. That way, it’s easy to find photos taken during a particular time frame. Decide on a specific format, such as YYYYMMDD, and use it for all files. In addition to the date, you might want to include some version of your name (such as your last name and first initial) to indicate ownership and provide a layer of copyright protection. Some photographers also keep the suffix generated by the camera, which can be useful for determining chronological sequence or tracking down the original file if needed.

Leverage Keywords and Metadata to Improve Findability

The file-folder hierarchy most computers rely on seems logical, but that’s just because it’s what you’re used to. If you’ve been in the photography field for a while, you’re probably acutely aware of the massive shortcomings of the file-folder structure. If you don’t remember what folder a photo is stored in or what it’s called, the effort becomes more like a Where’s Waldo? activity than a structured, clear-cut way to find what you need when you need it.

That’s where keywords and metadata come in. They go beyond the file name structure to provide more context and other information about every individual photo. Metadata consists of structural metadata, which can indicate whether a digital photo is part of a particular collection, administrative metadata, which can indicate valuable information such as the camera used to take the photo, the light source, and resolution, and descriptive metadata, such as Pantone colors or file dimensions, and keywords, such as the subject of a photo or client a photo was taken for, the location, and other contextual information. Develop a metadata tagging process with consistent rules for tagging photos to enhance searchability.

Add Copyright Information to Every Photo

Copyright is a major concern for photographers, and in the digital world, copyright infringement is rampant. To protect your work, add copyright information to every photo when you import it to your DAM or any storage solution. By embedding copyright details into your photos’ metadata, you’ll ensure that that information travels along with your photos wherever they go.

While it won’t totally prevent copyright infringement, it can help to deter theft. If someone uses your photo without your permission, copyright information embedded in the image’s metadata proves ownership. For photographers who sell their photos on stock photography websites, it’s a necessity to support stock photo rights management.

Use Versioning and Permissions

Colorful filmstrip of tropical images

Versioning and permissions are important features to look for in a DAM solution. If you work as part of a team, access permissions mean you can control who has access to what photos and when. For instance, you can restrict access to raw photo files, preventing marketing and other departments from utilizing photos that haven’t been edited or approved for use. Photos intended for use in a specific campaign can be restricted so that only team members working on that particular campaign have access to those assets.

Photographers often spend more time editing than they do actually taking photos, making version control a sought-after function in DAM solutions. Thanks to versioning, you can check files out, edit and revise them, and then check them back in, ensuring that only the most current versions are used. What’s more, you can easily browse through your asset history to locate a previous version. In other words, you’re never at risk of permanently altering an image without the ability to revert to a previous iteration. Download our white paper to learn more about the importance of Version Control in a DAM.

A DAM solution provides a single source of truth for your entire body of work, supporting your need to quickly and easily organize and find your digital photos whenever you need them. Coupled with smart metadata, versioning, and rights management functionality, MerlinOne provides an efficient and effective way to manage thousands of digital photos with ease – and protect your work from copyright infringement. Book a meeting today to find out how MerlinOne can help you manage your growing collection of digital photos.

Leave a Reply