No, I haven’t forgetten my basic cussword grammar. We are submerged in an ocean of acronyms and surely about to drown by syllabic asphyxiation. DAM stands for Digital Asset Management; the onerous task of keeping track of and protecting the staggering number of images we may now create for little more then the cost of another terabyte or so of additional hard drive space.
For the casual snapper, descent into the electronic version of the veritable shoe box of 3 x 5 prints is not the end of the world. When it’s really needed, they may sit at the PC and scroll through several hundred images looking for that snap of Uncle Harry and Aunt Harriet. However, for any advanced amateur or professional, the scope and importance of finding a particular image becomes vastly different.
It is pointless for a professional photographer to be approached with a request for a photograph of White Breasted Nuthatch in winter on a treebranch if he/she can’t find the image they know thet have amongst the 26,263 images stored on their I: drive, the 10,468 on the K: drive or the unknown number stashed on the C: drive that they’ve been meaning to catalog, keyword and relocate. This is not some memory skill you can perfect. A file naming system may be helpful up to a point but most images have many defining characteristics and often a request may have multiple criteria specified. For example, I have 544 Red Tailed Hawk images, 453 taken at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, 393 of which I know are Juveniles, 221 of which are feeding and one of which is a profile with a perfect drop of squirel blood on his beak.
The only way to attempt retrieval on this level of specificity is to keyword the images. Keywording being a list of characteristics you attach to an image so that at a later date you can search for an image using remembered or requested features, winnowing down the candidates until you find that perfect match.
But keywording is an onerous and mind numbing task. An hour of this and your grey matter gets the blues. Not to mention that as your attention begins to wander or fatigue you will inevitably make mistakes such as multiple spellings of the same intended keyword like Mt. Auburn and Mt Auburn.
It took four separate sessions at the computer to give initial keywording to the 3940 images I shot in April. This initial keywording used 121 word/phrases. It isn’t even remotely thorough or specific enough. I can find..
Aardvark, Abstract, Animal Humor, April 2009, Architecture, Arnold Arboretum, Arthur Fiedler Bridge, Baltimore Oriole, Barn, Beacon Hill, Beacon Street, Bicycle Gears, Bird, House, Bird, Birds, Black Capped Chicadee, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Blue Jay, Boston Common, Boston Garden, Boston Skyline, Boston, Boylston Street, BPL, Branches, Brookline, Buds, Canada Goose, Cars, Charles River, Charles Street, South Charles, Church, Clouds, Commonwealth Ave, Concord, Copper Steps, Daffodils, DG, Dog, Door, Downtown, Egret, Farm Utinsils, Fence, Fenway Park, Fenway, Flora, Flowering Trees, Forsythia, g9, Garden In The Woods, GATPF, Gloves, Grackle, Graffitti, Great Meadows, Grey Vireo, Guitar Player, Hall’s Pond, Hawk, Horses, Hull, Ipswich, Jazz Week 2009, Jazz, Kayak, Kenmore Sq, Killdeer, MIT Bridge, Mourning Dove, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Musician, Muskrat, Mute Swan, Newbury Street, Park Ranger, Passages, People, Pets, Piano Craft Portraits, Pine Cone, Pink, Pizza Shop, Plum Island, Pollution, Rain, Rainbow, Red Sox, Red Tail Hawk, Red Wing Blackbird, Reflections, Robert Gould Shaw, Robin, Rowing, Rt. 9, Sailboat, Salisbury Beach, Seals, Shoe Planters, Silhouette, Song Sparrow, South End, Sowntown, Squirrel, St. Botolph St., State House, Stone Eagle, Stoney Brook, Street, Sunset, Tenor Sax, Traffic Jam, Trash, Tree, Turtle, Walnut Hollow Farm, Windows, Wood Duck, WordPress, Wrought Iron. (However “Sowntown” will need to be replaced with “Downtown”.)
Now, where did I put that shot of a piece of wood that looks like a face? Someone is willing to pay well for it if I can deliver an image by 5pm. DAM! Where is it?