The DAM Book

Author: Peter Krogh

Publisher: O’Reilly

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Amongst serious photographers, two kinds need to read this book: those who never read the first edition of “the DAM Book”; and those who did. Quite simply, this is essential reading for serious photographers.

Digital Asset Management is the process of storing and recovering digital photographs. It’s the nature of digital photography to create lots of images. How does one find them? The folder, no matter how cleverly named, is the digital equivalent of the shoe box. If you filed something under the subject of the photograph, it became hard to find if you only could recall, say, a date, unless you had some sort of cross reference file. You had to rely on memory, and even for young’ons that can sometimes be a problem, to say nothing of old timers. Computer data bases are great for this, but there are all kinds of tricks to using them effectively.

Then there is the fact that sometimes even computers fail. It always astounded me that folks were willing to trust something like a disk drive, where one of the descriptive statistics is “mean time to failure”. Read your warranty and you’ll see there is no guarantee that covers precious data.

That’s where Peter Krogh comes in. He’s thought a lot about this and gives the reader the benefit of his thinking from the simplest one-man set up with a backup drive and a DVD burner to elaborate networked computers with problems created by multiple people working on many files simultaneously.

For readers of the first volume, much computer technology has changed. When the first edition was written there was no Lightroom with its integrated solutions or blue ray burners. I remember paying $800.00 dollars for cataloging software and several hundred for a CD burner! There are cheaper solutions available today, and as a result different workflow practices that better utilize the equipment available.

Krogh emphasizes that many of the solutions he discusses may be overkill for the individual non-professional photographer, but the points he makes are to be considered in deciding what kind of DAM system you want. For example, getting a blue ray burner may seem extremely expensive today, but recognizing that blue ray or something similar will be available more cheaply means that we should develop a system that can incorporate the change when the better technology is appropriate.

Along the way, Krogh scatters tips that people with better developed asset management schemes will be happy to learn about. For example, Adobe Bridge, while allowing you to add metadata with your copyright information still has no way to fill in the small field that says an image is copyrighted. Krogh provides a little XML (I think that’s right) that one can add to one’s preset to deal with this problem.

For most photographers, reading the technical details of an asset management system is nowhere near as interesting as capturing images or even jockeying Photoshop around. Still if you do all that work and you can’t find the picture, you won’t be happy. I won’t say that Krogh impressed me with the second edition, but halfway through I ordered another back-up drive.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store