"The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers" by Peter Krogh
Review Date: March 31st 2005
Digital photography is a wonderful thing. Never before have photographers had the opportunity to take so many images so inexpensively, and you can quickly find that you have hundreds or thousands of photos without really noticing. Digital photography can now become less than wonderful, however, as you struggle to maintain control of your growing collection. Where did you store that important image? What was it called? Which version is the best one to use? Have you backed it up, and where?
Enter stage left "The DAM Book" by Peter Krogh, which promises to "show you how to create an efficient photo archive built for the challenge of long-term storage". At last, a book that aims to answer the other half of the digital imaging puzzle - organising, cataloging and storing your photos in an efficient and proven way. If you have a photographic memory and can remember exactly where everything is in your life, then you won't need this book. For the 99.9% of photographers whose memory is not so hot, "The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers" could be the answer to your archiving needs. Find out if it delivers on its promises in my review.
The recommended retail price of "The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers" in the UK is £24.95 and in the US it is $34.95.
"The DAM Book" is divided into 9 chapters. In the first two, What is all this DAM Stuff? and Metadata, Krogh starts at the beginning by explaining why digital asset management is a good idea, and how to use and apply metadata to your images. In chapters 3 and 4, Creating the Digital Archives parts 1 and 2, the book dives into the deep end, looking at information structures (file and directory naming) and hardware configurations for your archive. Chapters 5-7 focus on the software side of things, from using Adobe Bridge to sort and rate images, converting RAW files to the Adobe DNG format, and using cataloging software (iView Multimedia) to manage the archive. The final 2 chapters (8 and 9) consider how best to handle derivative files (think different versions of the original) and how to migrate older, un-organised images into your new workflow. "The DAM Book" is 280 pages long and is produced with full-colour illustrations and photos throughout.
Peter Krogh's book is an unashamedly personal affair, in that it is based upon Krogh's own digital archiving system. "The DAM Book" is not at all theoretical, instead it has been written by a professional photographer who uses the techniques described in his daily work. This approach makes the book immediate and most importantly trustworthy - after all, if the system works well for Peter Krogh, it should also work for you. Another strength is Krogh's enthusiasm for what could potentially be a pretty dry subject. Archiving your digital images, or even thinking about archiving, is something that most photographers avoid, but the "The DAM Book" succeeds in making what is usually un-appealing into a must-do task. Krogh is also a clear writer, and this combination of enthusiasm, experience and clarity is a winning one.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed "Adobe Bridge", "Adobe DNG" and "iView Multimedia" mentioned above. You may have instantly thought "is this book really that specific?" and you would be right. As I've already said, "The DAM Book" essentially describes Peter Krogh's own workflow, and this extends to what software he uses and how he uses it. Adobe Bridge is where Krogh sorts and rate images. DNG is the file format that he uses as his original RAW image (rather than the manufacturer's proprietary file format) and iView is his preferred cataloging software. This focus on particular software prorams shouldn't put you off though. The"The DAM Book" places more importance on the concepts of digital asset management, rather than the nuts and bolts. Sure, you could succesfully adopt every single aspect of Krogh's workflow, but you can also take the concepts behind it and adapt them to your own particular needs.
Overall "The DAM Book" is an extremely well-written and comprehensive guide to everything that you could ever want to know (and a lot more besides) about digital asset management, all based on a tried and tested workflow.
(out of 5 stars)
I started reading this book with the very vague intention of archiving my own images properly, somehow, maybe, one day in the distant future. I finished reading it wondering which file naming convention I should adopt, how many hard drives I needed to buy, which friend's house I could store backups at, and many other details. If, like me, you struggle to find a particular photo in your collection, or you're not sure where the best version of an image is, then "The DAM Book" is a fantastic insight into how to manage your photographs from the moment they leave your camera. It's perhaps even more of a must-read for new photographers who have yet to build up massive collections - reading this book will make you aware of potential pitfalls and could save you a lot of trouble in the long run (I wish someone had given me a copy with my first digital camera). "The DAM Book" turns a potentially daunting subject into an approachable and understandable one, and it should find a place in every serious photographer's library.