I finally went to camp. Metadata Camp. As part of the Association of Professional Photo Organizers. Man, did I learn a ton of useful things. I also got to walk around in the parking lot of a Marriott Courtyard. It looked like this. Metadata, archiving and image retrieval is the massive White Elephant in the room of professional photography, let alone the outside world of “civilians” or “enterprise” who have assets that need to be managed, stored and retrieved. This isn’t easy. To really understand, utilize and form a metadata plan you truly have to want it.
I have a plan but it’s not great, and I’m way further ahead than many others. What I find to be true is when I run into a photographer who tells me this is no big deal and that they have everything figured out…they need help more than anyone. Why do I say this? Well, because I’ve run into plenty of “photographers” who say things like “This is no big deal.” “I bought a second hard drive, so I’m good.” Or, “I have a second drive on the floor of my closet, so I’ve got the archive thing figured out.” Or, “I use a RAID system.” Or, “Just put everything in the cloud,” but when I ask how they do it, or what service they use, or how much data they have and what they are paying monthly they get really squirrely and end the conversation. (Cloud is super smart, and I learned a new strategy in regard.)
None of these are long-term solutions. Now, I am running into a new category of “photographer,” who isn’t interested in having an archive so they are deleting most of their work as they go along. And if you think this is reserved for consumers you are mistaken. I’ve spoken to thirty-year wire service vets who keep only the images they transmit and delete the rest of their work. I’ve talked to younger photographers who don’t understand their archive might be the only thing that provides for their future who are only interested in getting images to FB and IG. I personally know a lot of photographers, older people, who are living entirely off their archives because they not only own the rights to their own work, but they have a full handle on the power and value of what they hold in their archive. I have a long way to go. Yesterday I searched for two random images and it took FAR too long to find them. FAR TOO LONG. So, the great metadata trek begins.
Yeah. I’m struggling to find a solution to that problem. It needs to become part of my workflow or else it’ll fail. Serious thinking needs to be done here. I do have a second external hard drive, next to the other one… I’m failing miserably right now. The only good thing is that my image bank is still tiny, less than a year worth of photos, but it’s growing fast.
YOu just have to make a plan and stick with it. The sooner the better.