Apr 7, 2014

Behind the Scenes at BigCrow Studio

Organizing Archives

The organization of negatives, transparencies and image files is always a major issue for a photographer. Most photographers simply hate the idea of having to organize archives. Many routinely avoid doing it.

It is a hassle, but it is necessary. Over the years I've used a few systems. I seen other photographer's systems and tried to adapt the best features of each into something that works well for me. Eventually I realized I had to indeed reinvent the wheel and create my own system that was simple enough to remember and easy enough for someone else to figure out with little or no instruction.

Databases make the job easier. I've gone from typed lists on paper that live in binders to FileMaker databases and now, what I hope is the final transition, to Apple's Aperture.

I chose Aperture for it's database function rather than its image processing features. It allows me to easily find and retrieve image files stored on external hard drives without having to endlessly search folders on discs or drives.

Every image has a unique number based on the date the roll of film was processed: 040714, a letter assigned to ID the roll - A, B, C, D and so on, and a frame number. So if I processed a roll of film today and scanned negative #6 its unique number would look like this: 040714A-6. That number stays with that image forever in what ever form the image takes.

I use the same system if I shoot a digital camera. The digital take for today would be  coded 040714B-1 for the first image archived then -2, -3, -4 and so on.

This works well for storing my film. My binders of negatives are labeled by year. If I'm looking for negative 030512D-4 I go to the binder for 2012 flip to the sleeves labeled for the 5th day of March (030512) and roll D (030512D). Once I have the sleeve pulled I look for neg #4. It's easy to find should I ever need to scan it again.

The most important thing in any image storage/retrieval system is consistency. The simpler the system the easier it is to remain consistent.

Photo: ©2014 David W. Sumner