Workflow Dilemmas


I was browsing through some of the last year’s photography magazines at the weekend, looking for articles to tear out and keep before throwing the rest into the recycling bin. The only article I kept was one about digital workflow, an area which has given me plenty of trouble.

Going back to my film days (here we go, blah blah blah, don’t listen to the dinosaur…) workflow was relatively simple. Each film was the same length, it got cut into strips and slid into a transparent page which could be filed in a big folder. Each page was numbered, contact printed and logged in a simple index. Done.

But film also was simpler in other ways. For the most part there was only one subject on a film. Often, there was only a handful of pictures worth printing on a film, for that matter! I wasn’t shooting transparancies for stock or anything like that, so there was no real indexing to worry about, other than the basic subject matter which was usually the name of the sitter in my case.

Now I’m digital and I have thousands more images to deal with (literally thousands more). There are plenty of programs out there which (up to a point) help with this. I have used Adobe’s Photoshop Album for a number of years and really liked it, up until the day I decided that my pictures were not filed all that sensibly and had to re-link all the pictures which can be pretty tiresome.

And there is my dilemma – what is “sensible filing”? I have read so many differing ideas on folder structure and file naming and even sat down and tried to work out what is right for me and nothing ever seems to be quite what I need. I think the real problem is that every time you find a way to improve what you do, you either have to dedicate a lot of time to modifying everything you already have or you have to live with a legacy of varying methods instead of one cohesive solution. This makes me reluctant to try something new.

So now I’m getting to the stage where I have tens of thousands of images, in hundreds of folders, with various naming conventions and some are tagged and catalogued and some are not. About the only constant in all of this is the timeline – as long as I can remember when one set of images was taken in relation to another, I’m okay. However, being a dinosaur means the old memory is not as sharp as it used to be.

Someone, somewhere, has the definitive workflow. Please find them and get them to tell me what it is!