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Organize Your Photos! The Five Cs of DAM Repair

As I prepared to migrate my back catalog from Aperture to Lightroom, I realized I had a problem on my hands. When working for clients, I am meticulous about Digital Asset Management (DAM). Files are carefully cataloged and multiple archives are created to hand off.

When shooting for myself, not so much.

Good Intentions… Bad Execution

In the field, I always make two backups. But, I was not very disciplined about moving those archives to my workstation back at the office. As a result, I accumulated a raft of data, floating on a river of mobile hard drives. To make matters worse, I made a couple of previous, aborted attempted to consolidate these archives. So, I had several partial backups on my office RAIDs.

To cap it all off, I had synced my iPhone (and my wife’s) into both my iPhoto and Aperture libraries at some point in the past. I never turned off the sync. So, years of iPhone photos found their way into the mix.

In short, I made a mess.

If you already have everything well-organized within Aperture, stop reading and check out Rich Harrington’s “The Essential Guide to Moving an Aperture Library to Adobe Lightroom“. It has everything you need to make the move right now.

My Migration Workflow

If, like me, you have some work to do to get your archives in proper shape before moving to Lightroom, I am creating a guide to help you escape the quagmire. Briefly, here are the steps:

  1. DAM Foundations
  2. Consolidate
  3. Conform
  4. Cull
  5. Copy
  6. Clear

This process applies to both Aperture/iPhoto libraries and folders of raw, unprocessed photos. Each step is detailed enough to merit it’s own post. As each post is released, I will link to the individual posts in the list above. Once the series is complete, I’ll assemble the whole process into a short ebook; available here for free.

As should now be clear, my old DAM was broken. Fortunately, I did not lose anything in the “flood”. The lessons learned have helped me understand the need for a more disciplined approach to managing my ever growing catalog of still and motion images. Hopefully, some of you can benefit from my mistakes.

Stay tuned.

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