The Scariest Part of Digital Photography

Digital photography has been a revolution. The clumsy stage of major innovations, breakthroughs, and failures seems to be a thing of the past. Cameras are reliable, fast, friendly, and affordable. Digital storage is cheap and expandable. Software is usable and powerful. Everything is just perfect, right?

Creative Commons License photo credit: *B.G. Lewandowski*

Wrong. Nothing is free in this world. With each step forward, we pay a price. Sure, digital cameras are great… but what about the headaches they cause? The more photos we capture and store, the harder it is to keep track of them and keep them safe. Many new photographers don't realize this, but a year or two down the road they're going to find themselves in a sticky situation due to poor data management techniques.

I can hardly imagine that many people have a foolproof plan laid out for photo management the instant they buy their first camera. The need doesn't become apparent (or necessary) until you reach a certain critical mass of files. And the brutal realization for this need usually crops up shortly after you decide that you want to make money from your photos. But that's the catch, you never can tell if that's where you're heading until it's too late.

Experienced photographers will tell you that photo management is very important… yes, we've all heard it. Again, this advice doesn't become obvious until it's too late. It's easy to find reasons for skimping on the data management, but it's hard to find time to fix our mistakes. I often wish I could send my past self a piece of advice:

apple evolution-sharpple?
Creative Commons License photo credit: atomicshark

When it comes to data management, do it right the first time… and do it religiously. Do your research and take the advice from the experts — they know what they're talking about. Spend a few extra minutes managing your photos NOW, and save yourself hours LATER.

While I'm in no place to call myself an expert at this point in my photography career, I feel that I can offer some bits of expert advice on certain topics within data management. Neil's series on Image Organization really helped to drive home a lot of things that I knew I should be doing. From that point forward, I've been developing and refining my good habits and practices.

I'd like to expand on Neil's articles, but with a heavy emphasis on my most important tool for file management. I now use Adobe Bridge to manage my photos and I can't believe I haven't been doing this for the last several years. In the course of the next few weeks, I'll cover topics directly related to using and utilizing Adobe Bridge — sort of a user guide, tips, tricks, and reference.

The Ventriloquist and the Dummy
Creative Commons License photo credit: TCM Hitchhiker

By the looks of our current poll on Photo Editing Software, nearly 40% of us use Photoshop/ACR. For those folks, Bridge is at your fingertips. We also have over 25% Lightroom users — and (from what I've seen) it looks like Lightroom shares many common features with Bridge and Camera Raw.

So I'll lead some discussions on targeted topics and functionalities within the software, and I'll rely on you more experienced folks to fill in the cracks and expand upon what I present. For those of you with access to this software, listen closely as the discussions go on and don't take the advice lightly. And for the folks who don't use or plan on using these pieces of software, listen up anyways — you may need it someday.

I'm looking forward to it, but is anybody else interested?